Meet the Instructors

H. Ben Encinias

Ben started actualizing his artistic desired when he attended a series of weekend classes on “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” Since then he has attended art therapy workshops. As a school counselor, he used art therapy with the students he served. He has taught adult classes using “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” concepts. He has exhibited in juried shows in Grand Rapids. Michigan and Pensacola, Florida. While living in Pensacola he participated with other artists on a weekly basis to draw and discuss art.

Since moving to the Blue Ridge area his artistic style has been expressed through the landscape of his home. He has also made specialized props for Blue Ridge Community Theater and Gilmer Arts. He is currently working with Gilmer Art’s B.E.S.T. for Kids outreach program by teaching a puppetry program in the schools of Gilmer County. He presents, writes scripts and makes the puppets used by the children.

Heather Huck

Heather Huck, E-RYT,  and Owner, Wild Branches Yoga & Wellness

Heather has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. She pioneered teaching yoga here in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains 14 years ago, after receiving her first certification in 2003. Regionally, she teaches weekly yoga classes, workshops, private sessions, retreat classes, and has taught SUP Yoga and lead Yoga Hikes.  Off the mat Heather finds solace in the woods, usually near some body of water, loves spending time with family & friends, and believes that laughter, sleep and meditation are the best medicine.

Mark Menendez

Mark Menendez -

As a traveling teacher, I have taught throughout the southeast United States, offering instruction in drawing in various mediums:  pencil, charcoal, pastel, color pencil, pen & ink; and I’ve taught painting in watercolor, acrylic and oils.  My North Light Books art instruction videos are among the highest-rated on their website. My unique classes are a place where anyone can express their creativity and individuality, and enjoy the friendship of wonderful encouraging fellow-students. From beginner, to intermediate, to advanced students, as well as the many young artists’, all are welcome.

For the last eight years I have had the privilege of offering art classes at Gilmer Arts, and have enjoyed the company and support from everyone.

Noor Moody–

Yoga Teacher, Certified Phoenix Rising Therapist, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. Noor has been a student/ teacher of Yoga since 1978. She graduated from Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy in 1995 and is currently a retired Physical Therapy Assistant in Georgia.

Noor has conducted and presented Yoga, meditation and breath work to a number of public and private organizations interested in physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Noor instructs to all populations including Creative Movement Classes for children and Prenatal Classes.  She was a faculty member of The Center for the Reversal of Heart Disease Program in Orlando, Florida.

Along with excellent instruction, Noor creates a safe environment for personal development, health, and spiritual well-being, through the practice of Yoga.

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley -

Business owner and graphic designer by trade, Annie also finds time to draw, paint, build, sew and bead whatever comes into her creative mind. She currently has several canvas paintings, jewelry and painted glasses on display and for sale at Gilmer Arts. Find out more at

Vicki Wagoner

Vicki Wagoner –

Vicki Wagoner is a self-taught intuitive guidance therapist and hypnotherapist who teaches expression and self-love through art.

Vicki has taught many creative workshops right here at Gilmer Arts.  Some of the classes she has taught are “Express Yourself” (self-expression through art), “Heart, Hands and Healing Art”( a gentle and healing way of painting with your hands),  “Sip-‘N-Paint” (wine and painting expressive art), and “Jewelry Workshops”(beading basics).

Right now her focus at Gilmer Arts is a “Jewelry Workshop” that includes beading and the introduction to jewelry making.  Vicki will teach you how to create a unique piece of jewelry with group and personal guidance.

James Weaver

James Weaver –

James Weaver is a Songwriter/Producer/Performer with more than 40 years of musical experience. He has won numerous awards and honors from several International Songwriting Competitions. He was the lead guitarist with the 60’s Garage Band – “Red Beard & the Pirates” and co-wrote the single Go On Leave that is considered to be a “Garage Band” collectors item today. Recent honors: Two – “Honorable Mentions” in the Unisong International Songwriting Competition. This contest had entries from more than 90 different countries. Three – “Top Five Category Finalist” Awards in the VH1 Song of the Year International Songwriting Competition. Recent Releases: High Rider, I Want To Be Me and Leaving Behind. All 3 songs received “Honorable Mention” in the 15th Annual Billboard World Song Competition. James also served for three years on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Songwriters Association. He was Showcase Chairman for the annual showcase featuring artists such as The Georgia Satellites and REM.

Megan Williams

Megan Williams –

Megan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Music Therapy from the University of Iowa as well as a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Florida.  In 2012, she retired from her 30-year career, working at a residential center for developmentally disabled adults in Gainesville, Florida.

Megan is an accomplished musician who began her musical training in High School. She studied voice and has performed in many Chorus groups and Church choirs over the years. She also played the guitar with folk and bluegrass groups before learning to play the mountain dulcimer.

Megan has been playing the mountain dulcimer since 2007.  Her first dulcimer classes were at the John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.  In 2013, she retired to Ellijay, Georgia and joined Blue Ridge Dulcimer Club.  Megan has been teaching the dulcimer since 2014.  She is now enrolled in a Dulcimer Teacher Certification program at Western Carolina University which she will complete in 2017.

Megan’s dulcimer students often say she is a wonderful, patient teacher.  She loves to share her enthusiasm for the dulcimer.  She says “It is a beautiful sounding traditional mountain instrument, a joy to play and enjoy with others.”  She is very proud of her adult students and their excellent progress.  Most of them started as absolute beginners with little or no musical background.  Now they can play as a group and enjoy playing for Nursing Homes and an Assisted Living Center.