Nimbus Arts, a community-based nonprofit, ignites artistic expression across the Napa Valley.

Founders & Board

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Dana Johnson, Founder and Board President

A long-time believer in the power of art to bring joy, empower, heal, and connect people, Dana Johnson was inspired to to create Nimbus Arts after her family’s experiences with art in a children’s hospital. “At Nimbus, I love seeing people get completely absorbed by the process of creating something,” Dana says. “The calm and joy is contagious.” At Lewis and Clark College, Dana combined her study of art, English, and psychology to create a Community Arts major. She then studied library and information science at the University of Washington. After working as a librarian and then as a software designer in New York, Dana moved with her family to Napa Valley where she and her husband started Ovid Napa Valley Winery and where, in 2005, Dana founded Nimbus Arts. In addition to being empowered by art in general, Dana finds herself inspired by Ernst Haekel, Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Goldsworthy, and all the artists at Nimbus Arts.

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Jamie Graff, Executive Director and Co-Founder

Jamie brings a unique perspective, diverse background, and incredible creativity to her role as Executive Director of Nimbus Arts. After graduating with a degree in Enology and Marketing form UC Davis she has had a career as a winemaker, an agricultural educator, and a business owner. Jamie has continuously followed her passion for education and using her talent for creating amazing experiences and for connecting people. As a winemaker and part of the education team at Fetzer Vineyards, Jamie designed innovative “farm to table” programs for schools in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

Through Jamie’s civic passion she also founded the Napa Valley Soapbox Derby and St. Helena Harvest Festival Fun Run. In addition to the juggling of raising two children while running a retail business, Tapioca Tiger, Jamie offered hands-on arts and science workshops to the whole community. It was through these workshops that Jamie met Dana, and when they discovered their mutual passion for community-based arts activities, Nimbus Arts was born.

Since its inception in 2005, Jamie has been developing the creative programming and organizational direction for Nimbus Arts. A strong believer in the strength of collaboration and the connections we make though the creative process, Jamie has remained true to her passion for developing high quality and high impact arts experiences and community events. “I marvel at the art of writing, painting, and sculpting in the same way I admire someone who is passionate about preparing a beautiful meal or able to describe the intricate function of a bee colony. ‘The artist’ exists in all of us and when given room, surfaces in so many ways.”

Jamie is inspired by both big thinkers and how the tiniest creative action can remain emblazoned in our memory and ignite something deep within us. “If I could fuse the magical imagination of Disney with the scientific artistry of DaVinci, have Goldsworthy chat with Walden, mix the palettes of Kandinsky and Picasso, or frame every moment that I witness between our artist instructors and students at Nimbus, the cumulative inspiration would be a fraction of the artistry that leaves me in awe.”

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Martha Doornink, Board Treasurer

Martha Doornink, M. Ed. is a trained Montessori teacher and a practicing Certified Integrative Health Coach. A founding member of the Nimbus Arts board, she spends some of her time in St. Helena and most of her time in Los Angeles. She is a passionate educator, gardener, and philanthropist with targeted interest in supporting both education and cancer prevention projects via the Doornink Family Foundation, which she and her husband Ron direct. With four nearly-grown children, Martha appreciates all travel opportunities and is inspired by the creation of art wherever she finds it – from the most humble personal efforts to the art found in the great museums of the world. She especially relishes the concentration and creativity occurring at every art camp and class at Nimbus Arts. Martha also serves on the non-profit boards of The Besant Hill School of Happy Valley in Ojai, CA and Growing Great, Inc. in Los Angeles.

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David Garden, Jr., Board Vice President

After majoring in film production, David created award-winning shorts as a film editor at Colossal Pictures in San Francisco. In 1998, David moved to Napa Valley and in 2005, when he heard about a new art center called Nimbus Arts, he jumped at the chance to become an instructor. He has been jumping ever since, working with students and bringing the joy of art to the Napa Valley community and beyond. “I am grateful for the freedom to include a variety of arts and sciences in my curriculum,” David says. “From outer space studies to toy-making, puppetry to music, alternative energy to game design, Nimbus Arts helps me ignite the creative spark.” Although David is six-foot, two-inches tall, he lives in a chicken coop. “The close quarters are a constant reminder to watch out where I’m going and to observe the world around me.”

In addition to serving on the board of Nimbus Arts, David is also a board member of Arts Council Napa Valley.

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Jennifer Risher, Board Member

Jennifer fell in love with Nimbus Arts watching her two young daughters create papier-mache circus animals and ceramic sea creatures. As she attended lectures and experimented with SoulCollage, cookie decorating, and mosaics classes, her appreciation for Nimbus only grew. Jennifer studied Michelangelo and Donatello in Florence her junior year and graduated from Connecticut College with an art history major. She then tried her hand at ink painting and flower arranging as an English teacher in Tokyo and now brings her Microsoft marketing and business experience to the Nimbus Arts board. Having living in Barcelona for seven years with her family, she also brings a fresh perspective and an appreciation for Gaudi, Picasso, Dali, and Miro.

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Matt Rogers, Board Member

Matt is an artist and community leader living in St. Helena with his wife and three daughters. A graduate of The San Francisco Art Institute, Matt works in various media and focuses on painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. Matt’s work is the visual manifestation of his inspiration, travels, and life events—and he finds inspiration everywhere. When not working in his St. Helena studio, Matt is turning life into an event, bringing people together. As a working artist, father and philanthropist, Matt brings his extraordinary energy, commitment to art, and enthusiasm to the Nimbus Board.

Matt shows his work at the Caldwell Snyder Gallery in St. Helena, San Francisco and New York, Ma(i)sonry in Yountville, and recently exhibited at St. Supery Winery.

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Claire Stull, Board Member

Claire grew up in a family of artists and art-lovers and this early appreciation for artistic expression formed the basis for her successful career in interior design. Moving to Napa a decade ago, Claire is one of the valley’s most important and influential art patrons. She served as a di Rosa board director for six years and brings incredible passion and a deep understanding of the importance of art in education and as a means to connect communities to Nimbus Arts.

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Laurie Shelton, Board Member

Laurie is the daughter of an artist: painting, crafting and creative endeavors were a part of her daily life growing up. After the birth of her daughter in 2001, Laurie’s passion for art was renewed and she began to paint seriously. She furthered her art studies at Napa College and later at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco. Over the years Nimbus Arts became a place of great joy and comfort for Laurie and her daughter, especially after losing her husband Tom to cancer in 2008.

Art is centering and foundational for Laurie, now remarried and living in Palo Alto. Her art is shown in the Silicon Valley Open Studios and in Paris. Laurie finds inspiration in the paintings of Diebenkorn, Bonnard, Gregory Kondos and Lucian Freud.

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