SOBA Board Members

Marie Burgeson


Mary Ann Burgeson (Marie at SOBA) was active in the Art world from a museum perspective while living in the Chicago area. She was on the auxiliary board of the Art Institute of Chicago and a founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 1981. After moving here she took painting and drawing classes at SOBA and now exhibits at our gallery. She says the talent and friendliness of the members are what makes leading the board such a pleasure.

Cynthia Van Nus

Vice President

In addition to being SOBA’s Vice President, Cynthia Van Nus is a member of the display committee. She is committing to ensuring that SOBA grows to become a leading art gallery in Bluffton as we enter the decade of 2020. Cynthia paints from her own photographs and experiences, usually scenes or objects of interest from the Lowcountry, New England, and Michigan (where she lived much of her adult life).

John Kenney


Art allows us to look at the world around us differently. The relationships between shape, line, color and tone come to life and are constantly changed by light. John Kenney’s oil paintings are about the manipulation of light and geometric shapes. The direction and intensity of light controls image and texture. He finds inspiration in the every day. John’s art is an expression of what he sees and feels, whether as an abstraction or as modern expressionism. To see more, visit his website.

Jeanne Francisco

Recording Secretary

Jeanne Francisco and her husband, Bill, recently moved into the Low Country via Keuka Lake, NY and Siesta Key, FL. Jeanne got involved with SoBA through the many great classes she took (and still takes) at The Center for Creative Arts located next door to the gallery. Although she loves dabbling in any creative endeavor, she has focused in on oil painting as the perfect mindful pastime. She serves on the board to help support the efforts and talents of local artists.

Mary Burrell

Membership Chair

Mary Burrell was the first-place finisher in SOBA’s 26th Annual Judged Show. Her artwork — with its distinctive textures, shading and detail — has been exhibited in restaurants, libraries, galleries, public offices and boutiques. 

Mary lived in New York until August 2017, when she moved to Bluffton with her husband, Mark. She is a founding member of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Women Artists, and served on the SOBA board from 2019-2020. Burrell currently teaches children’s classes at SOBA and gives private lessons.

Marian Sanders

Community Relations Manager

As the community relations manager, Marian Sanders attends and reports on the Old Town Bluffton’s Merchants Association and Bluffton’s Art and Cultural Association and District. In the past, Marian also has served as president of SOBA’s board of directors. As an artist, Marian is an oil painter who is inspired by the Lowcountry — painting landscapes, still life, birds and pets. Her paintings are on exhibit at Brick Wall Gallery in Beaufort SC and in Bluffton SC. Marian studied art with Daniel Edmondson at his studio in Denver, Colorado.

Barbara Pecce

Director SOBA Art School

Barbara Pecce is a watercolor artist and teacher who has recently moved to South Carolina from Puerto Rico. During the 47 years she and her family lived in San Juan, she was a founding member and long time president of the Asociacion de Acuarelistas de Puerto Rico. She also taught watercolor at the Lisa de Arte in Old San Juan and at the Museo de Arte. Barbara is now an active member of the Society of Bluffton Artists ( SOBA) and currently volunteers as Education and Workshop Coordinator at the Center for Creative Arts.

Lin Hilts

Staffing Manager

As the staffing manager, Lin Hilts’ duty is to ensure that the gallery is open to the public every day (except for national holidays). Thanks to the tireless efforts of member artists who display their artwork each month, the SOBA gallery’s exhibit changes regularly — the first Monday of each month or on the first Tuesday if the Monday is a holiday.  Our artist members volunteer 3.5 hours on a day of their choosing. Staffing is critical to the success of the gallery to be open for business.

Kim France

Marketing Manager

Kim France came to the Lowcountry via Raleigh, NC and Cincinnati, OH. When she arrived, she had never held a paint brush. But, the Bluffton and Hilton Head scenes inspired her to try her hand at oil painting. Primarily self taught, Kim has nurtured her desire to improve artistically through workshops at The Center for Creative Arts which is run by SOBA Gallery and is located next door to the gallery. She serves on the board because she values the exposure that SOBA gives to her art and enjoys the camaraderie of the Bluffton Art community.

Pat Diemand

Gallery Display Manager

Pat Diemand began her journey as an artist as a young child, guided by her desire and natural ability. She was a member of the Western New York Artists’ Group in Buffalo, NY and the WA Project for the Arts/Corcoran in Washington, DC.

Diemand’s work has appeared in a variety of exhibitions over the years, including the Albright Knox Sales/Rental Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Artful Gifts Exhibition at Art Dialogue Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and the Cumberland Valley Artists’ Exhibition in Hagerstown, Md. Locally, her work can be seen at Alexander’s Restaurant in Palmetto Dunes. She also teaches the Summer Art Camp for kids at SOBA.

Mary Ann Ford

Gallery Manager

Mary Ann Browning Ford is an award-winning artist, who received “Best In Show” at SOBA’s 25th Annual Judged Show. While growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio she attended children’s art classes at The Cleveland Museum of Art and years later, the Cleveland Institute of Art and Western Reserve University.

Ford is a member of the National Association of Women Artists, a board member of SOBA and Hilton Head Island Land Trust. Additionally, she’s scenic artist and designer University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Center for the Arts. She also teaches art to seniors at TidePointe and Bayshore assisted senior living communities on Hilton Head Island.

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