2016 Boston Figure Painting Competitors

Jennifer Balkan

Jennifer grew up in New Jersey and began to draw at a very young age. She studied neuroscience in college and considered pursuing a path in psychology. After living in Boulder and Seattle, she moved to Austin. She attained her Ph.D. in 2001 after conducting anthropological fieldwork in Mexico. Although her experience in Mexico was rich, Jennifer longed for artistic creativity. In August of 2001, Jennifer spent a month in Spain, France, and Italy where she saw masterworks that would become her inspiration. She then threw herself into oil painting and now paints fervently. She writes “my time studying the human psyche both psychologically and sociologically must have left its imprint on my brain permanently…because I cannot seem to stray too far from it in my painting.”

Jennifer has taken art classes at Laguna Gloria Art School, the Austin Fine Arts School and at the Art Students League in Denver. Jennifer currently paints in her studio and in life painting groups. She has been teaching figure and portrait painting in oils to private groups of students since 2005. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and in Europe and has been featured in a number of art publications.  In 2015, two of her portraits received awards by the Portrait Society of America.  She has recently and proudly been named “Best Visual Artist of 2015” by the Austin Chronicle’s Readers’ Poll


Julie Beck (ARA Boston Representative, not eligible for main prizes)

Julie Beck was born and raised in Rochester, New York. In 2002, she graduated valedictorian from Roger Williams University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. From 2002 to 2011, she worked as a self taught freelance graphic designer by day and a self taught artist at night. In 2011, a move to Massachusetts introduced her to classical training at the Academy of Realist Art, Boston. Since then, Julie has become both an instructor at, as well as the Assistant Director of ARA Boston.

Julie’s work has won such honors as the Gold Medal at the Guild of Boston Artist’s 2013 Annual Non-Member Competition, has repeatedly been a finalist in the Art Renewal Center’s Annual Salon, and won Best in Show for the Richeson 2016 Still Life competition. Julie is currently represented by Williams Fine Art Dealers.


Emanuela De Musis (ARA Boston Representative, not eligible for main prizes) 

Born in Boston, Emanuela De Musis traveled to Italy in 2008 to study drawing in Florence and subsequently enrolled at the Academy of Realist Art Boston where she now teaches figure drawing and painting. She holds a BFA in Painting from Carnegie Mellon and is a graduate of Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

In 2015, she was listed among Poets and Artists Magazine's 50 Memorable Painters. Her painting, Miss Rachel, was awarded the Gold Medal at the Guild of Boston Artists Regional Juried Exhibition and her painting, Fritter and Waste, was featured in International Artist Magazine.  Emanuela is represented by Williams Fine Art Dealers.



Alia El-Bermani

Alia El-Bermani was raised in a small town just south of Boston, where she spent most of her childhood enjoying the outdoors and discovering the natural history of the south shore of Massachusetts.  She received her BFA in 2000 from Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach CA. This talented figurative painter has had several solo exhibitions as well as her work featured in numerous group exhibitions across the country.  Her award winning paintings and drawings have been showcased in museums such as the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in Alaska, the West Valley Art Museum in Arizona, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto and the Greenville Museum of Art in North Carolina.  In 2015 her painting Paper Wishes was acquired by the Museu Europeu d'Art Modern (MEAM), in Barcelona, Spain for their permanent Collection.

El-Bermani is also a seasoned instructor who has taught at both the college and workshop level.  She currently teaches ongoing classes in Apex, NC as well as workshops around the country. She has been honored as a guest lecturer at several universities including East Carolina University, Meredith College, Texas A& M University as well as Laguna College of Art and Design.

She has occasionally taken on the role of curator, as she has coordinated several thoughtful exhibitions. January 2017 will mark her most ambitious curatorial project.  The exhibitionWomen Painting Women: In Earnest, which features 34 contemporary, figurative artists, will begin its museum tour starting at Texas A&M Universities J. Wayne Stark Galleries. El-Bermani is a member of the Portrait Society of America as well as a co-founder of the important blog Women Painting Women. Several articles have been written on her work in such periodicals as American Art Collector, iArtist as, ArtSee, Art Week, The Independent and LA Weekly.  She currently lives and works in Apex, NC.


Rose Frantzen

A native of Maquoketa, Iowa, Rose Frantzen is known for her oil paintings from life that bring contemporary perspectives to a traditional alla prima approach. In addition to landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works, Frantzen creates serial and allegorical works that incorporate diverse stylistic elements along with gilding, stained glass, and mosaic.

Frantzen’s work has shown at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Figge Art Museum, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Brunnier Museum, the Denver Historical Museum, the Iowa State Historical Museum, and as the People's Choice award winner in the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition, 2016. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Figge Art Museum, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Dubuque Museum of Art, Iowa State University, University of Iowa Hospitals, the World Food Prize, the United States Department of Agriculture, and many private collections.

Portrait of Maquoketa, Frantzen’s yearlong project in which she invited anyone in her hometown to sit and be painted, resulted in 180 portraits that were all shown at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. In 2012/2013, she completed her vision for Portrait of Maquoketa by painting a 315 square foot landscape view of the town on 34 vertical panels that hold the portraits on the other side. In the new installation, now part of the permanent collection of the Figge Art Museum, the panels are suspended from the ceiling throughout the gallery. When visitors sit at one end of the installation, all 34 landscape panels coalesce into a unified panoramic view.

Frantzen is a frequent demonstrator, guest lecturer, and panelist discussing art and the artist’s life in the 21st century at museums and national art conventions, and her paintings have been featured in national and international art magazines, podcasts, and journals. She is represented by Gallery 1261 in Denver, CO and Old City Hall Gallery in Maquoketa, IA, and her work can be found at RoseFrantzen.com.


Bruno Galuzzi Corsini

Bruno Galuzzi Corsini is an artist who is originally from Brazil and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. He first graduated, in digital design at the Instituto Europeo di Design in São Paulo, Brazil, and then moved to Florence, Italy to undergo an intensive three year classical drawing and painting program at the Angel Academy of Art. He also taught drawing and painting at the Angel Academy for two years while being a student there. Bruno has always been interested in art, may it be traditional/digital paintings, video games, movies or design in general. Mixing both traditional and modern interests is his goal and with them show his ideas and passions through his work.

Bruno's art has been published in the "Infected by Art" 2015 and 2016 artbooks, has shown his work in Florence at a group exhibition and exhibited at the Art!Vancouver art show. He received the People's Choice Award at the Portrait Society of Canada "Miracle of the Portrait"2015 competition.

 Currently he is a drawing instructor at the Classical Realism Atelier located in Vancouver.


Johanna Harmon

Johanna Harmon, began designing and recording visual observations at the age of seven, but it wasn’t until almost two decades later that she was introduced to the traditional language of art at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, the Fechin Art Institute, and the Art Student’s League of Denver where she studied painting alongside prominent figure artists with varied artistic philosophies and approaches.

Over the past decade, her work has been presented in numerous solo, group and juried exhibitions including Newbury Fine Arts Boston, the Portrait Society of America (PSA), Oil Painters of America (OPA), Art Renewal Center, and California Art Club’s Gold Medal Exhibition, where she received numerous prestigious awards. Most recently she was honored with both a Certificate of Excellence at PSA's 2016 International Portrait Competition and 1st Place in their 2015 Non-Commissioned Portrait Category Members-Only Competition.  In 2013, Harmon received OPA Signature Member designation, and acceptance into OPA’s 22nd National Juried Exhibition where she received her second Gold Medal Award, becoming the first artist to receive two OPA National Exhibition Gold Medal Awards in the organization’s history.  Her first Gold Medal was awarded in 2007.  Her work is collected internationally and has been published in American Art Collector, International Artist, Fine Art Connoisseur, Southwest Art, Artbook of the New West, and Focus Santa Fe.


He Lihuai

Mr. He Lihuai was born in Chongqing in 1961. He worked as an art designer at Capital Museum from 1985 to 1996 after receiving Art of Bachelor degree in oil painting at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 1984. As a member of Beijing Artists Association and a professional artist, He has been honored as a very talented oil painter in contemporary China.

His paintings have been exhibited regularly at home and abroad as well as at the art sales held by the organizations like Baoli and Zhongding, many of which have been kept by domestic and overseas art lovers.


Iliya Mirochnik

Originally from Odessa, Ukraine, Iliya Mirochnik immigrated to the United States in the early 1990’s with his family. From a young age Iliya pursued training in the arts in the Russian academic tradition. He studied in LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Art and in the Bridgeview School of Fine Arts in New York under the tutelage of professors trained in the art academies of the former Soviet Union. Iliya studied in St. Petersburg, Russia in the prestigious I.E. Repin State Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture from which he received his Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting. In his paintings he aims to connect the Russian aesthetic with American sensibilities, creating images that go beyond their origins. He has been recipient of a number of prestigious scholarships and awards both in the United States and in Russia, winning the “First Place” award in the American Portrait Society’s International Portrait Competition. Iliya was recently selected to develop his design for a public monument for Iconbay Residences in Miami, Florida in collaboration with The Related Group architecture firm. Currently, Iliya resides in Brooklyn, New York.


Cesar Santos

Santos’ art education is worldly, and his work has been seen around the globe, from the Beijing museum in China to Chelsea NY. Santos studied at Miami Dade College, where he earned his associate in arts degree in 2003. He then attended the New World School of the Arts before traveling to Florence, Italy. In 2006, he graduated from the Angel Academy of Art in Florence where he studied classical art.  In his work, he places the sitter in a world richly populated with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. With superb technique, he infuses a harmony between the natural and the conceptual to create works that are provocative.

Santos has received numerous accolades, including first place in a Metropolitan Museum of Art competition, and he was recently presented with the 2013 Miami Dade College Hall of Fame Award in Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, including the Villa Bardini Museum in Florence and the National Gallery in Costa Rica.