ArtTalk Volunteers

May 16, 2022

Over the last year and a half Phillips’ Mill’s popular ArtTalk series has produced over 35 conversations with artists, educators, collectors and others engaged in the arts. It’s incredible what the small team of volunteers has been able to achieve in such a short time. Join us behind the scenes with the team that set out to keep people engaged with the arts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — and beyond.

Executive producer Jen McHugh, host Laura Womack, and content producers Dennis Riley and Jean Mihich are now transitioning into a new phase with the possibility of more studio visits and other interactive content. ArtTalk is live on the fourth Wednesday of the month, with new interviews, more artists and a few surprises. Click Here for more info about ArtTalk.

Jean Mihich, Jen McHugh, Laura Womack, and Dennis Riley

Jen McHugh, a former project planner in the pharmaceutical industry, keeps the team on track with planning future shows. She also has a deep knowledge of local arts.

“Jen McHugh is a docent at the Michener Museum, so she knows a lot about art history and is a great resource to our program,” says Laura. “She is also an extraordinary producer who runs a tight ship.”

You see Jen on camera with Laura and the guests. They have a natural rapport, with Laura interviewing the artist and Jen taking audience questions. But there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes prep. That’s organized by content producers Jean Mihich and Dennis Riley.

Jean Mihich was the registrar of exhibitions/conservation at the New York Public Library before she retired. She’s a great researcher for ArtTalk. Asked about working on ArtTalk, Jean says, “I love it! I love hearing about the artists’ creative process and the journeys they’ve taken to get where they are. It’s inspiring.”

Jen says, “Jean is thoughtful and has great ideas for programs. She always has an interesting perspective.”

Dennis Riley is trained as a school psychologist and was a director of special education in California schools. He goes to many art openings and frequently tours area galleries. "We’re helping to foster our community of artists and art lovers,” Dennis says. “It’s intellectually and emotionally rewarding.”

“Dennis Riley is an incredible ambassador for the program. He does a terrific job reaching out to artists and keeping up with events happening in our community,” notes Laura.

Since its debut, the show has been hosted by Phillips’ Mill President Laura Womack, who previously hosted her own syndicated show in Virginia before joining WAMU in Washington, D.C., where she also contributed to NPR. “Laura and I work so well together," says Jen. "Her interview skills are such an essential part of the program. At this point I can often tell which way she wants the discussion to go and the appropriate image to share.”

The ArtTalk team is tight and their operations are smooth. Join in as they bring our area’s artists to you.

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus