The ARTsmart Team





Sharon Peterson, Executive Director
Peterson worked for ARTsmart in 2009 and rejoined the organization in 2012. She holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Colorado and went on to get her teaching certificate, working as an educator for five years. In 2001, she moved to Washington DC, where she worked in a fast-paced environment, gaining experience in organization, customer focus, and time management. Since moving to Santa Fe, she has contributed to several nonprofit organizations, including three years at the McCune Charitable Foundation. (Updated 9/2015)

Amanda Thomas, Program Director and Instructor
Neiter has worked for ARTsmart since 2013. She received her BFA and minor in small business and entrepreneurship from Montana State University in 2008. In 2011, she returned to receive her teaching certification in art for students kindergarten through grade twelve. She has taught kindergarten, special education in English for grades six to eight, and fine arts for kindergarten to grade twelve in Montana and New Mexico schools. She also works as a professional oil painter and metalsmith. (Updated 9/2014)

Melinda Baker, Senior Instructor
Baker has been an instructor at ARTsmart/FACT since 2001. After receiving her BFA from UCSC with an emphasis in printmaking, she pursued further studies in art history, illustration, textile design, and education.  She was an artist-in-residence in California where she co-founded After-School Artists in Santa Cruz, a thematically–based art program for children ages six to twelve years. She teaches adult classes in Fearless Creativity and is working on a children’s book, while exhibiting her own watercolors in New Mexico and California.  When not creating art or teaching, she can be found bird-watching and hiking. (Updated 9/2014)

Tara Lanich-LaBrie, Instructor and Communications Manager
Lanich-LaBrie has worked for ARTsmart since 2013. She received her BFA in painting and a minor in art history from College of Santa Fe in 2005. She has been working with children for her entire adult life. Teaching in an integrated special needs classroom led her to pursue a MA in education, awarded by Regis University in 2010 She hopes to foster artistic growth and freedom in the children she teaches, and believes passionately that all children (and adults!) are innately creative. As well as working as a painter, she is also an illustrator, and writer. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in Chicago and Denver. (Updated 4/2015)

Mariel Rose Garcia, Instructor
Garcia joined ARTsmart as an instructor in 2014. With a background in ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, beadwork, silverwork, and additional crafts, she is an artist and student of the arts.  Her experience and training include both classroom instruction and individual tutoring. Among her goals are providing children with the confidence to explore art and to use their “artist’s eyes” in seeing themselves as artists within their communities. (Updated 9/2014)

Vanessa Gonzalez, Instructor
Gonzalez was born and raised in Santa Fe and she spent 15 years living in Arizona, California, and South Carolina. Her love of art started at an early age and she received her BFA in painting from Arizona State University in 2006.  Since then she has continued to paint and exhibit her work. She is currently enrolled in the Teacher Academy at SFCC and is working toward earning her teaching license. She has been involved with ARTsmart since 2015 as classroom volunteer.

Victoria (Tori) Brown, Fundraiser Coordinator
Tori has volunteered for ARTsmart since 2011 and joined ARTsmart staff in January 2016 to help with the 25th Annual Dinner and Auction as Fundraiser Coordinator and has stayed on to lend a hand in the office.  Before moving to Santa Fe and opening her Art*o*mat® art vending machine business in 2012 she co-owned Brown Katz Brown & Company, a contemporary crafts gallery, in Tacoma, WA for 14 years. She is also an artist and her mixed-media work can be seen in Art*o*mat® art vending machines all over the country.

Rebecca Chornenky, Instructor
Chornenky began teaching art in 1998 as Lead Teacher for the non-profit 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 mangager and mediator.  Her lifelong commitment is to improve the well-being of children and young adults through the transformative capacity of social justice-based visual, performing arts and communications education.  She has served as contributing faculty at Santa Fe University of Art and Design 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, Moving Arts Espanola, Fine Arts for Children and Teens, and the Outside In Youth With Promise Program.






Connie Axton, President
Axton has been the owner/director of Ventana Fine Art on Canyon Road since 1983. She is as passionate about community involvement as she is about her gallery, actively participating on the Canyon Road Merchants Association, Santa Fe Gallery Association, Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community, Better Business Bureau, and Chamber of Commerce. She has been on the ARTsmart Board since in 1996, serving as treasurer (2002-2008) and president (2010-2012, and 2014). In 2008, she received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and her contributions were acknowledged in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s “Ten Who Made a Difference.” She also received the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Santa Fe Gallery Association. (Updated 9/2014)

Mark Greenberg, Vice President
Born in New York City, Greenberg has lived and worked in Los Angeles, CA, and Denver, CO. He spent thirty years in the corporate world in management and executive positions, primarily in the executive search industry. He moved to Santa Fe in 2003, where he directed, then owned a Canyon Road art gallery that was sold in 2014. He was one of the founding executive board members of the Canyon Road Merchants Association and joined the board in 2014. (Updated 6/15)

Susan Hallsten McGarry, Secretary

A native Minnesotan, McGarry moved to Santa Fe from Houston, TX, in 1998. She is director of the national group Plein-Air Painters of America and the principal in McGarry Media Group. She received her MA in art history from the University of Minnesota and was editor-in-chief of Southwest Art magazine from 1979 to 1997. She has authored more than 30 monographs, survey books, and catalogs on American artists and contributed to many more. Since 2005, she has been an ARTfeast volunteer and contributor to media projects, and in 2014 she joined the ARTsmart board. (Updated 4/2017)

Linda Vieira, Treasurer
Born and educated in Santa Fe, Vieira is a New Mexico State Legislature Committee Assistant seasonal employee, where she has spent five years on the House Education Committee. Prior to this she was an auditor for the New Mexico State Land Office in the Oil, Gas & Minerals Division. She is involved with the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, where she served as State Treasurer and Vice Regent. She is a member of the City Different Retirees Educator Association and enjoys volunteering for her church. She joined the ARTsmart board in 2015. (Updated 8/15)



James Bottorff
Bottorff is the principal in Bottorff Construction, which specializes in remodeling and restoration. He has a BS in business administration and was an art director and general manger of galleries in Dallas, TX, and Scottsdale, AZ, before moving to Santa Fe where he has been an active supporter of the arts since the early 1990s, including work with the Santa Fe Gallery Association. He joined the ARTfeast Committee in 2002, has been a board member since 2006, and chaired the annual ARTfeast Golf Tournament in 2011-2013. (Updated 9/2014)

Newton Coker
A native Georgian, Dr. Coker moved to Santa Fe from Houston, Texas in 2007.  Formerly, he was a full academic professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.  He has served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Coker Memorial Foundation and, subsequently, the Coker Foundation.  In both organizations he was the investment portfolio manager.  He and his family have been supporters of ARTsmart for over 12 years. (Updated 1/2016)

Kate Collins
A Santa Fe resident for more than four decades, Collins has spent her business career in New Mexico’s hospitality industry, including managing hotels and expanding the state’s tourism. She is currently the owner of Grapeful, Inc., a wholesale distribution company dedicated to fine wine and spirits of the world. In 2001, she began assisting ARTsmart in organizing and improving its ARTfeast fundraisers. In 2011, she became a board member, focused on ensuring that all ARTsmart events have the finest restaurants, chefs, hosts, and spirits. She is proud to affirm that her grandchildren have been enthusiastic participants in ARTsmart art projects. (Updated 9/2014)

Deborah Fritz
Fritz, who grew up in Los Alamos, NM, is the co-owner/director of the Canyon Road gallery Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, which she opened in 2001 with her sister and business partner, Kimberly Giacobbe. Eight years later, she opened her second gallery, GF Contemporary, also on Canyon Road. Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art represents traditional fine art; GF Contemporary represents more experimental artists. Through both galleries she has cultivated an international clientele. Fritz joined the ARTsmart board in 2010 and has also collaborated on projects with SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum Foundation, and Santa Fe Gallery Association. (Updated 9/2014)

Patrick Gendron

Born and raised on an artist community in Southern NM, Gendron has been a part of the art scene all his life.   He has a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Communication and a minor in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico.  While at UNM, Gendron was the Campus Director of the NM Public Interest Research Group and helped students get involved in consumer and environmental advocacy.  He currently works as a Financial Advisor at the Rikoon Group here in Santa Fe and focuses on Environmental and Socially Responsible Investing.  Gendron is also a self-taught landscape photographer and enjoys capturing the dramatic moments provided by the beautiful high-mountain desert around Santa Fe.  When he is not working or out taking pictures, Gendron loves to volunteer for many organizations including YouthWorks, Volunteers for the Outdoors, and the Continental Divide Trail Alliance.  Fluent in Spanish and semi-fluent in Portugese, he is very interested in building connections in the diverse community of Santa Fe and feels that working locally is the best way to make change on a global scale. (Updated 4/2017)

Sherry Ikeda
A native of California, Ikeda worked in the medical industry, including as a registered psychiatric nurse and developing a tele-psychiatry company with her husband that provided services to underserved rural communities in California, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas. In 2009, she moved to Santa Fe, and since 2014 has owned Gallery 901 on Canyon Road. Ikeda is a member of the nonprofit Encaustic Art Institute, Santa Fe, and her other outreach efforts include supporting the Kitchen Angels and Saint Elizabeth’s Shelter. She joined the ARTsmart board in 2016.

Mary Robison
Robison lived and worked in the Washington, DC, area for 26 years prior to moving to Santa Fe in 1993. She spent 18 years in the corporate world in government relations, educational services, and financial management positions. She founded an administrative and bookkeeping services business in 1998 with her late-husband Ken. Her volunteer work also includes support of Girls Inc., Open Hands, and the Alzheimer’s Association. She joined the Board in 2014. (Updated 10/2014)

Rebecca Tobey
Tobey was the ARTsmart 2010 Honorary Artist and has been on the board since 2012. A professional artist with a MA from Adelphi University in New York, she has spent 30 years in the studio where she creates ceramic and bronze sculptures, jewelry, and paintings.  Her award-winning work has been exhibited in museums across the country, and her public art is on view at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque; The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, Ft. Collins, CO; The Ringling Brothers Art Museum, Sarasota, FL, and the Mitsubishi Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. (Updated 9/2014)

Gloria Zamora
A former government affairs manager, Zamora has a BA in history and an MLS in library science from the University of Michigan. She devotes her time to Santa Fe nonprofit organizations, including serving on the founding committee and as a board member of the Women’s International Study Center. She also serves on the boards of Cooking with Kids and the New Mexico Library Foundation. Since 1977 she has been active in the Special Libraries Association, an international nonprofit specializing in information organization, where she has served in several capacities, including treasurer and president. (Updated 9/2014)