Rebecca Chornenky Named ARTsmart Program Director

ARTsmart is thrilled to announce Rebecca Chornenky as our new Program Director. She began as an art instructor with ARTsmart in 2014 and taught with Fine Arts for Children and Teens (FACT) since 2010. “Rebecca is an extremely effective art educator. Her passion, knowledge, and background have set her up to be our top candidate as program director. Rebecca cares deeply about the work we are doing for the youth in our community. I am confident Rebecca will ensure that our program quality and impact continues to grow,” says ARTsmart Executive Director Amanda Thomas.

“I am grateful to work with this dedicated, experienced team to cultivate strong community partnerships that support children’s growth, healthy development and well-being. When we engage the whole child in the classroom, not only their intellect, but also their creativity, learning is truly embodied. My reward comes from creating the conditions for children to thrive. We get to see the magnificence of human potential in the classroom daily, and that includes the moments when it’s a struggle and when it’s graceful,” says Chornenky.

“The last few months has been an exciting time as I design new curriculum. While we retain the core foundation and methodology entrusted to us from FACT, we add new elements that include SEL (social and emotional learning)/arts goals and lessons and STEAM integration (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).We also include new practices for visual literacy/talking about art, an Art Foundations structure that increases instructor choice with materials and allows room for legacy projects and site-specific installation art, and new approaches and materials that engage learners kinesthetically.  I recognize that it is because we have an elegant, award-winning educational methodology and curriculum as a foundation, that new ideas can be integrated with such ease. It is a resource that continually astounds and delights me when I see what it can help students achieve.  Using this methodology, after being trained in it and held to rigorous standards, has increased my effectiveness as an educator. It is a living treasure that was created by FACT founders Juliet Myers and Rosanne Kadis; masterfully developed and refined by Julia Bergen, Keelan Wackman and a cadre of talented educators including ARTsmart Senior Instructor Melinda Baker, into a groundbreaking force of education. ARTsmart and FACT merged in 2013 as these two well-respected non-profits had similar missions, goal and aspirations. Without these roots already in place, I would not have been able to watch it in its next stage of blooming. I thank everyone involved in creating it, and I especially thank Amanda Thomas, Sharon Peterson, Tori Brown, Melinda Baker, and the Board for tending to it, valuing it, and keeping it safe through many transitions,” Chornenky says.

Chornenky began teaching art in 1998 at Children’s After School Arts in San Francisco. She moved to Santa Fe in 2000 to study restorative justice-based mediation with the New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution, where she served as a program manager and lead mediator in restorative justice and school suspension cases and mentored a team of mediators. Her lifelong commitment is to improve the well-being of children and young adults through the transformative capacity of experiential education. She has served as contributing faculty at Santa Fe University of Art and Design through the Artists for Positive Social Change program and in various instructional, curriculum design, stage management, artist and mediation capacities with local non-profits such as Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Family Strengths Network, National Dance Institute-NM, Fine Arts for Children and Teens (FACT), and the Outside In Youth With Promise Program. She is currently completing a certification program in Traumatic Stress Studies through the Justice Resource Institute.

Register NOW for Spring Break ARTcamp

Spring is coming and our popular Spring Break ARTcamp will be upon us two months. Register your K-4th Grade students HERE for our fun and enriching March 19-23 camp. ARTcamp is from 8 am to noon and $125 registration fee covers all art materials and healthy snacks.


Meow Wolf and ARTsmart to Collaborate on Youth Mural Program

ARTsmart and Meow Wolf have been working on an exciting collaboration through ARTsmart’s Youth Mural Program.

Over the years, ARTsmart has worked with young artists to create murals in local communities in order to strengthen relationships within communities and neighborhoods and to create works of art that are meaningful and lasting. To continue the mural program’s success, ARTsmart teamed up with Meow Wolf and Grace Mayer’s Milagro Middle School Art Club students on a new mural project. The mural will be painted in Meow Wolf’s Learning Center.

ARTsmart’s Executive Director, Amanda Thomas, approved the collaboration knowing that ARTsmart students would be highly motivated and engaged to work with a Meow Wolf artist. “I want students’ eyes to be opened to possible careers in art and to what Meow Wolf provides for artists in our community,” Thomas says. Meow Wolf assigned artist Sahaih Escobedo to work with ARTsmart and the Milagro art students to execute the mural. “Sahaih has been wonderful with the students and has really motivated them to come up with some amazing and creative ideas,” says Thomas. Following the lead of how Meow Wolf created its unique company name, students put words of their choosing into a basket and drew them out randomly to create a double-word combination as a theme for their mural. The combination? “Galactic Forest.”


The mural unveiling will be February 14 from 5:30-6:30 in Meow Wolf’s Learning Center. Join us in celebrating the work of these young artists and a fantastic community collaboration. This project was made possible by the Hestia Fund Santa Fe.

A Look into ARTsmart Methodology: Artist’s Critique

ARTsmart’s programming utilizes unique instructional methodology that is designed to support the development of multiple skills and positive behaviors in each child. It is important for young artists to feel that their efforts are noticed and valued not only during the creative process but afterward as well. During our positive feed-back Artist’s Critique, students learn a variety of skill sets as they share their work in front of peers and sometimes family.  They begin by presenting their work to the class with a queue card in that reads, “Hello, my name is _______. I am an artist. This is my artwork.”

With an emphasis on language and vocabulary, young artists are encouraged to discuss their inspiration, challenges, techniques, and successes in relation to their work.  Avoiding judgments, such as, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” and focusing more on actual choices that the artist has made, teaches students to appreciate the ideas and viewpoints of others.  Using, “I notice…” or “I see…” in sentences helps students comment on their peers’ artwork to identify specific artistic decisions and to strengthen their understanding of the creative process. Often times, this is the very first opportunity a student has to speak in front of class and to participate in an art exhibition. It’s inspiring to see the growth and self confidence in the student by the time the program ends. Some kids, who are too shy to speak at the beginning of the program, can’t wait for their turn to shine at Artist’s Critique on the last day of class.

ARTreach Program Highlight: “Celebration of Learning” at Abiquiu Elementary

There was homemade posole, fresh biscochitos made by Principal Fanny Castillo, and the holiday sounds of the school choir that filled the air around the display of artwork created by students at Abiquiu Elementary’s 2nd annual Celebration of Learning. ARTsmart’s successful ARTreach program at Abiquiu Elementary is headed up by Senior Instructor, Melinda Baker, and you can see how proud she is of her student’s work during this holiday celebration held on December 20th in the following photos.

Meet the Artist: Athena, 5th Grade

Athena is a Santa Fe Public School 5th grader whose painting design was chosen to be part of ARTsmart’s Children’s Painted Ceramics Project. Her design was transferred onto a ceramic flower pot that will be on display at the Children’s Painted Ceramics Project Reception on February 10th and for sale at ARTsmart’s Annual Dinner & Auction “You Will Be Served …Harvey Girls Style on March 3rd.








Athena is proud of her painting of a sun, moon, and night sky with a brilliant red rim with orange stars that she transferred to a salad plate to keep and a flower pot to sell in the auction. She says, “I was so excited when my name was called for this project. I was surprised because I usually do not get chosen for things. My class all had their fingers crossed waiting for their name to be called. When they called my name all eyes were on me!” Congratulations, Athena! We can’t wait to see you at the reception on February 10th. This is a FREE community event and all are welcome to come and enjoy the artists with their families at the ARTsmart Community Art Studio.


ARTsmart Events

Children’s Painted Ceramics Project Reception
1- 2:30 pm Saturday, February 10, 2018, ARTsmart Community Studio
Tickets: This is a free community event

Annual Dinner & Auction, “You Will Be Served … Harvey Girls Style
5:30 pm 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
12- 4 pm March 3-4, 2018, throughout Santa Fe County
Tickets: This is a free community event (donations are welcome)

ARTsmart’s Edible Art Tour
5 – 8 pm 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

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CLICK HERE to view the email version of ARTsmart’s January 2018 Newsletter.