Amanda Thomas Named ARTsmart Executive Director

Board President Connie Axton announced on November 27, 2017, that Amanda Thomas has been appointed to the position of executive director at ARTsmart New Mexico. “The decision came naturally,” said Axton. “Amanda has been with ARTsmart since 2013, first as an instructor and starting in 2014, as our program director. When our current executive director, Sharon Peterson, elected to reduce her workload, our candidate of choice was Amanda. We are excited to promote her into this critical position.” Peterson, who has served as executive director for the past two years, will remain with ARTsmart in the part-time position of operations manager.

Amanda (Neiter) Thomas was born and raised in Montana, where she received her BFA and teaching certificate from Montana State University. Before joining ARTsmart, she taught in Montana and in New Mexico charter, public, and private schools. Her experiences with modern teaching practices, interdisciplinary learning, curriculum development, assessments, and serving students with special needs were critical to ARTsmart’s decision making. “While teaching in underserved areas, my eyes were opened to how crucial creative outlets are for children,” says Thomas. “As I experienced the transformative impact of the visual arts, I developed a passion for bringing the arts to all youth.”

Thomas envisions growing ARTsmart programs within Santa Fe and the state. “Today, ARTsmart reaches more than 9,600 kids in Santa Fe public schools and in nine of the eleven elementary schools in the Espanola School District,” she says. “We are developing partnerships with other educational organizations and foundations and, with our new facility, we hope to offer classes for adults. I envision our ARTsmart Community Studio evolving into a space where the community at large comes together to be creative, find inspiration, and experience the benefits of the arts.

“Children, however, will always be our focus,” she continues. “Many of our students experience a multitude of problems, including a lack of consistency, which they actually crave. We have a successful and provable training program for our teachers that ensures consistency. Our students know what is expected of them, which sets up a safe and supportive learning environment where they feel comfortable taking risks in art, as well as sharing and talking about their work with others. Our teachers facilitate a learning experience that encourages students to see clearly, benefit from mistakes, and perceive themselves as unique, capable, articulate, and praiseworthy. It’s a formula for success that has made ARTsmart one of the state’s top-performing advocates for kids. Our goal continues to be growing the strength, impact, and numbers served by ARTsmart’s innovative programming.”

ARTsmart congratulates Amanda!

ARTsmart Students Win 2nd Place in Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival is the country’s largest and oldest recycled art market. It showcases art created from discarded materials –all art consists of a minimum of 75% recycled materials. ARTsmart’s after-school ARTclub students from Sweeney Elementary recycled the famous 1970’s environmental campaign Give a Hoot Don’t Pollute and created their own take on Woodsy the Owl by repurposing old CD’s, jar lids, bottle caps, buttons, and vintage jewelry into adorable owl ornaments. Our submission won 2nd Place in our age group. Congratulations, ARTclub kids! The collection of owl ornaments will be on display in the gallery of the ARTsmart Community Studio at 1201 Parkway Drive so come take a look.


#GivingTuesday Success! Donation Page to Remain Open Until Dec. 31st

Thank you to all that donated! Because of you we will be able to bring high quality visual art programming to more students who lack art within their lives.The #GivingTuesday campaign was a rousing success with $5,000 in matched donations from Aleta Pippin and Pippin Contemporary for a total of $13,170. The DONATION PAGE will remain open until December 31 so if you haven’t finished your end-of-year-giving please remember ARTsmart. Donations benefit ARTsmart’s ARTreach Program.


ARTsmart Kid’s Plate Painting Project

Last month 5th graders from Santa Fe Public Schools came to the ARTsmart Community Studio to transfer their 13” round original paintings to dessert and dinner plates and -new for this year: flowerpots. The original paintings will be laminated to become placemats and the plates and flowerpots will be for sale at our Annual Dinner & Auction. A free reception and awards ceremony for the children to showcase their fired ceramics will be held at ARTsmart Community Studio on Feb 10 at 1pm.

Meet the ARTsmart Instructor: Melinda Baker

We interviewed our Senior Art Instructor, Melinda Baker, who has been with ARTsmart (and FACT before the merger) longer than any other staff member.ARTsmart: How long have you been with ARTsmart/FACT and what inspires you most about working here?

Baker: I started teaching with the FACT program in the fall of 2001.  I had recently moved from Santa Cruz, Ca. where I taught art in a variety of capacities for children and adults for several years after graduating from UCSC with a degree in Printmaking.  The unquestionable highlight for me has always been the interaction with the students.  I love finding ways to develop curriculum and combine the richness of art history, local culture, natural history and children’s literature.  As an instructor, I find endless inspiration in our museums, galleries and libraries and always walk away with at least one good project that I want to introduce to my students. But above all, the genuine rewards come from my direct connection to the students and facilitating meaningful ways to awaken their creative spirit – there’s nothing like it!  Our students are facing the full gambit of extreme challenges – immigration, drugs, gangs, jail… the list is daunting and depressing.  Providing an opportunity for the students to have their creative ideas and efforts seen and appreciated can change a hopeless scene to one of possibilities and choices.

ARTsmart: Where else do you teach? Age ranges?

Baker: Right now I am teaching ARTreach classes for K-6th grades at Abiquiu, Dixon and after school ARTclub classes at El Camino Real Academy.  I also teach adult art classes through the Continuing Ed department at SFCC called “Fearless Creativity.”

ARTsmart: You participated in the Dixon Studio Tour a few weeks ago. Can you tell us how the Tour went and about your art for sale?

Baker: The Dixon Studio Tour was a lot of fun!  I enjoyed participating with the school and making a deeper connection to the students and community.  I displayed my own watercolor paintings and cards and also sold ARTsmart Klimt cards created by some of our student artists – which were a hit!  In the stall next to me was a young woman artist, Simone Trujillo, who had attended FACT ARTbarn classes with me around 10 years ago!  It was a wonderful coincidence and gave me a perfect example of the power to plant creative seeds in our young students.  She does absolutely beautiful work!

Melinda’s art can be seen online here.


Author Stephen Fried Named Honorary Chair for Annual Dinner & Auction

Stephen Fried with Harvey Girls at Harvey House, La Posada in Winslow, AZ

This year ARTsmart’s Annual Dinner & Auction, entitled “You Will Be Served …Harvey Girls Style,” will be held on Saturday, March 3rd, at the famous New Mexico Fred Harvey House, La Fonda On the Plaza. A perfect fit for Honorary Chair of this event is author and historian, Stephen Fried, who wrote Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West –One Meal at a Time.

If you’ve never heard of Fred Harvey, Harvey Girls, or Harvey Houses, you should know that Fred Harvey was serving consistently delicious (and therefore rare) meals to weary travelers along the railway from Chicago to California and made a name for himself as founding father of the nations’ service industry long before Howard Johnson became “HoJo’s” or Ray Kroc ever set his sights on McDonald’s. The Hollywood blockbuster musical starring Judy Garland, Harvey Girls, came out to celebrate the country’s first female workforce that Fred Harvey made famous. He hired single, attractive, and pleasant women who were never allowed to wear makeup or nail polish to staff his Harvey Houses. Harvey Girls stationed at La Fonda were allowed a special New Mexican uniform that favored embroidered blouses with pleated velour skirts rather than the starched white aprons and “leg-of-mutton” sleeves of the early days. Regardless of what they were wearing Harvey Girls were known for their impeccable service that patrons returned for over and over –along with amazing steaks and the finest coffee.

Just as it did in its Harvey House days La Fonda On the Plaza will be serving up some of their signature tried-and-true dishes including a pairing of petit filet with stuffed jumbo shrimp and classic chicken La Fonda. Stephen Fried will speak during the dinner and veteran Harvey Girls have been invited to attend. There will be authentic Fred Harvey memorabilia offered to the highest bidder in the silent auction and Fried is preparing a special Harvey related item for the live auction. This year’s Honorary Artist, Barry McCuan, will showcase one of his landscape paintings for the live auction and the Santa Fe High School students he mentored will have their landscapes made with water-based oil paint for sale with 50% of the proceeds going to the student painter and 50% going back to the school. We hope you’ll come to “Be Served …Harvey Girls Style” and you’ll stay to learn about Fred Harvey’s legacy in New Mexico and about ARTsmart at our biggest fundraiser of the year.
Tickets are available now -click here.

ARTsmart Events

Children’s Plate Reception
Saturday, February 10, 2018, ARTsmart Community Studio
Tickets: This is a free community event

Annual Dinner & Auction, “You Will Be Served … Harvey Girls Style
Saturday, March 3, 2018, La Fonda On The Plaza
Tickets: $200 ea. For tickets and table discounts, please call 505-992-2787 or click HERE

ARTsmart’s Art of Home Tour with Keller Williams Realty
March 3-4, 2018, throughout Santa Fe County
Tickets: This is a free community event (donations are welcome)

ARTsmart’s Edible Art Tour
June 8-9, 2018 Canyon Road and Downtown Santa Fe Galleries
Tickets: $35 ea. On sale soon


AmazonSmile: Sign Up Today and Amazon Donates to ARTsmart

ARTsmart has partnered with AmazonSmile. By signing up and designating ARTsmart New Mexico as your charity of choice, AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of your purchases. Click HERE to get the same great products, prices, and services that you already enjoy AND donate to ARTsmart with this FREE service.
Thank You and happy holiday shopping!




CLICK HERE to view the emailed version of the ARTsmart December 2017 Newsletter.