Public Art Team Members

Charu Bakshi

Charu Bakshi comes with 25 years of experience in leading global advertising agencies and media houses, with her last 10 years in leadership positions. Charu is a fearless crusader of out-of-the-box ideas and a believer in the philosophy that innovation actually saves cost in the long run. She is now applying her advertising and marketing learnings to a field she is fiercely passionate about — Fine Art. Her company, Earth Studio, is invested in championing the path breakers and their new conceptual genres in the art world.  From scouting talent to nurturing artists, helping them build their brand, and pricing and selling their art, Charu walks the entire journey with the artist. Charu serves on the Public Art Team as the liaison to the Metuchen Arts Council, beginning January, 2020.

Eileen Castronova

Eileen is a scientist with 20 years experience in molecular biology, biochemistry and pharmacy. She balances work with art, and has been working with ceramics for the past year and a half. Her previous outreach activities included education and grant writing, and she looks forward to putting her passions to work in Metuchen. Eileen began to serve on the Public Art Team January, 2019.

Jeanne Coogan

Jeanne Coogan is currently a Computer Systems Manager for the City of New York. She has developed technical documentation, instructional design, eLearning, and instructor led training for firms in the financial services, military consulting, computer training, real estate, and pharmaceutical distribution sectors. She is also a Life Member of the Art Students League of New York, where she works primarily in printmaking. Her prints are in the permanent collections of the ASL and the New York Public Library Print Room, as well as private collections in NY and NJ. Her work was recently in a group show at the Old Print Shop, New York City and Frontline Arts, Branchburg, NJ. Jeanne has been a resident of Metuchen for 27 years. Jeanne began to serve on the Public Art Team of the MDA January, 2019.

Carol Gaffney

Carol Gaffney is an educator who has enjoyed teaching art and enrichment to the students of Moss School for 20 years. Having lived in Metuchen for over 30 years, she has been active in local school and community affairs, including founding Trustee and former President of the Metuchen Education Foundation, and serving as Board of Education Liaison to the Metuchen Library Board. A working artist in watercolor, photography and jewelry design, she was also the Special Events manager at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. There, she was responsible for designing special museum programs for University students and families. She also freelances as a Museum Educator at the Grounds for Sculpture. Carol began serving on the Public Art Team January, 2020.

Laura Griffith

Griffith is the Associate Director of the Association for Public Art (aPA), a position she has held since 1990. She has served as a reviewer for the Heritage Preservation and Smithsonian Institution’s Save Outdoor Sculpture! (SOS!) Treatment and Achievement award programs, Peer Review Panelist for the NJ State Council on the Arts, Steering Committee for the College Art Association’s Public Art Dialogue, and is currently a member of the Conservation Advisory Committee for the City of Philadelphia and is the co-founder and facilitator of the Philadelphia Public Art Forum. Prior to her current position at the aPA, she was the Coordinator of the Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Curator of Children’s Programs at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She served as a member of the Metuchen Development Commission from 1997 – 2017. Laura began to serve on the Public Art Team of the MDA April, 2017.

Beryl Koblin

Beryl has lived in Metuchen, NJ for 30 years and is a fiber artist and retired HIV researcher.  For weaving, she uses found materials and a wide variety of fibers.  She also weaves and knits practical items for the home with an eye for their aesthetic as well as functional value.  She has shown her work at the Metuchen Junebug ArtFest/MetFest, Highland Park Arts in the Park event, Metuchen Eat, Drink & Buy Art event, multiple galleries in Metuchen and the National Arts Program at Rutgers NJ Medical School.  She is a member of Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild.  She is a member of the Metuchen Farmers Market Board of Directors and participates in Metuchen’s NJ Fiberworks. Beryl began to serve on the Public Art Team of the MDA, January, 2019.

Lorraine LeSter

Lorraine is now retired from a 37 year career with the NJ Division on Civil Rights, where she was Manager of the Special Investigations Unit.  She has lived in Metuchen since September 2001, and is thrilled to be a part of the changes in Metuchen. Lorraine began to serve on the Public Art Team of the MDA January, 2019.

Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella (Team Leader, 2019)

A resident of Metuchen for 25 years, Linda has worked and taught as a full-time artist in both formal classroom settings as well as from her studio, Earthsongs.  In addition to her work in ceramics, primarily wall-sculpture and permanently installed large scale ceramic murals, she has been passionate about making the arts a vibrant part of the community. To that end, she was the originator of Metuchen’s “Mystical, Magical Junebug Artfest,” a month-long celebration of the arts that continued from 2007-2018.  Additionally, she  established several community galleries:  the Gallery of the Edison Arts Society, The Rotunda Gallery in Metuchen’s Borough Hall, and Nails in the Wall, the Gallery at St. Luke’s.  Connected to both her work as a ceramist and her interest in having the arts enliven the community, at the request of the Metuchen Arts Council, in 2017, she completed a four-panel mural project, “Mud Making Magic” that invited over 300 people of every age and ability to help create the permanent, outdoor ceramic art work, “The Seasons.” For more information about Linda’s work, visit www.CLAYSONGS.com. Linda began to serve on the Public Art Team of the MDA April, 2017.

Grant Funding has been provided by Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division of Department of State.