Atelier Santa Fe | - January 23, 2012

“Creative people on the West Side…”

Atelier Santa Fe

As you travel west on Alameda Street, it appears you are leaving town and entering a semi-rural landscape and another way of life. But, hidden along side streets (mostly un-paved lanes) off of this increasingly traveled street are enclaves of artist studios, creative industry businesses, recording studios and other live-work approaches to keeping Santa Fe’s creative energies flowing.

Over the next few months, I will attempt to visit as many of these creative centers as possible – north, south, east and west.

I begin today with my recent meeting with four very creative women in one of these unique places. Down the proverbial “dusty lane” leading to this creative hub, made sometimes almost impassable by winter and spring mud, I found Sheri Mann, Maggie Faralla, Pat West-Barker, Barbara Walzer. Over a sumptuous meal of bagels, lox, fruit and strong coffee, we talked about so many things: culture, food, politics and, mostly, the creative work they do. They are, respectively: an acting coach and videographer, a custom wedding cake designer, the editor of The Zenchilada online magazine and the marketing director of The Zenchilada. Their little enclave off of West Alameda is busy 12 months of the year – sometimes 24/7. Artists and creative entrepreneurs, they often work round the clock to meet deadlines, refine their output and do their part to sustain our creative industry sector and support their own lives.

I will profile these creative women in a couple of installments – each of their stories being unique and deserving of more space on my blog than a single, combined story might offer.

In some ways, what ties these creative women together are the ways they each arrived in Santa Fe and why they stayed. You see, I believe in the magic of Santa Fe so much, that I feel certain people are attracted here and can’t help themselves – they must make the journey, they must be here, they must be a part of what makes Santa Fe and northern New Mexico so special.

For each of these profiles, I have asked these creative people: “what brought you to Santa Fe.” I know how important finding my own way to Santa Fe has been in the trajectory of my creative journey and I have begun to realize that each of us who came from “elsewhere” has often had a similar set of reasons for coming here, in the broad sense and, often, similar reactions to what we found when we arrived. Each of these talented women has had her own special journey “home” to Santa Fe.

Sheri Mann’s Heartfelt Video Legacies

I begin this series with Sheri Mann. I have actually known Sheri for many years, with both of us wearing many hats. I have always referred to creative people in Santa Fe and the lives they live (myself included) as doing “the Santa Fe Shuffle.” This is not, in any way pejorative, but more a recognition of the way creative types learn to make use of the many creative skills they posses and have developed over the years. Sheri is no exception. It seems she has always been in, what we now call the creative industries.

Sheri has been in Santa Fe for 20 years, ever since she left Los Angeles, after the death of her husband, famed director, Danny Mann (director of 26 films, including The Rose Tattoo, Butterfield 8, The Teahouse of the August Moon, Our Man Flint, Judith and A Dream of Kings). Sheri had been a literary agent in Los Angeles and then a dialogue coach with her own studio.

After Danny Mann’s death, a production designer and friend of both Danny and Sheri started a dinner theatre in Albuquerque with his twin brother as General Mgr./director, and knowing of Danny's death and the couple’s initial plans to come to New Mexico, they offered Sheri a job as head of PR/Marketing and as an actress in the first musical review in the Duke City. Soon after she migrated north of La Bajada and found a welcome community in Santa Fe. Like so many others, she has begun to use many of her skills in combination in the creative businesses she has worked to develop. I have seen Sheri serve our community well with her skills as an acting coach – even using those same skills to train celebrity chefs and others to improve their presentation skills – more on this project at Using her skills in the film business she has also developed a wonderful, much-needed service: Heartfelt Video Legacies.

It is interesting to me that Sheri has gravitated to this portion of her skill set, that of film making and directing. I have always thought that new technologies would be the way I would like to leave information about my own life – a way I could connect with the next generation of my family and those beyond. The 8mm, three-minute films from picnics at my grandmother’s house have been put together digitally and remain the source of some of my fondest memories of that often-forgotten time. But, what Sheri produces, goes far beyond that crude method of chronicling our lives.

Working with Sheri and her video legacies begins with her meeting with the subject to discuss their lives, what they want to capture on video, who they are really speaking to and the subjects they want to discuss. Sheri always has a way of making a person feel completely at home in her presence and I am sure that this quality extends into the work with the subjects who are leaving these legacies for their loved ones. She discusses everything: from the setting – she has a small “set” in her home studio – to what the individual might wear. 

Working with a camera person, she sets the stage for a very comfortable arrangement of the subject and herself as the off-camera interviewer. Because most people are unfamiliar with being in front of a camera, Sheri does enough prep work and video “takes” to be sure she has just what is needed to be able to capture the essence of the subject’s life for editing into a wonderful, professional final DVD.

I hope, at some point, to be able to carve out some time with this talented woman and try to leave my own legacy captured on a simple disc, filled with the zeros and ones of this digital technology.

You can learn more about this talented creative person and her video legacies at her website:


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