2 0 1 1 T h e S a n T a f e n e w M e x i c a n • w w w. S a n T a f e n e w M e x i c a n .

c o M
pe rf ormi ng arts ce nte r
1 block west of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
310 Johnson Street Santa Fe
505-992-6846 Monday - Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
Folk art, fne art, furniture and antiques
from China, Japan, Nepal and other Asian
countries…every day.
4 LENSI C 10
Enjoy video and audio highlights online. Learn more about the season at www.SantaFeOpera.org • 505-986-5900
201 1
877.424.2828 u centurynetbank.com
Santa Fe u Española u Albuquerque u Las Cruces
Take a bow.
You deserve it.
At Century Bank, we believe arts and culture are a vital part of our
community and we congratulate The Lensic Performing Arts Center
on its 10 year anniversary.
Century Bank has been building strong, lasting relationships in
our community for 122 years, and that will never change.
To meet with a personal banker to set up an account or to discuss any
other personal or commercial banking needs, call 505.995.1200.
lensi c 10
anni versary
What’ s i nsi de
6 The Lensic matters to Santa Fe.
8 80 years of history: The Lensic and its town
12 Tickets Santa Fe, the community box office
13 Events for the 10th anniversary
15 Purchase pact: A family legacy is handed down.
15 How to donate or become a member
16 Keeping the building’s spirit intact
16 Raising money for maintenance and preservation
18 Looking back: Performers salute the theater.
19 Every year, some 15,000 students stop by.
20 Growing up at the Lensic
24 Internships take students inside the creative world.
26 Through Future Voices, a new generation emerges.
Cover Photo
Kate russell
the Lensic Performing Arts Center
Cover design
deborah villa
editor And PubLisher
robin Martin
AssoCiAte PubLisher
ginny sohn
MAnAging editor
rob dean
Magazine editor inez russell
986-3093, irussell@sfnewmexican.com
Magazine art director deborah villa
986-3027, dvilla@sfnewmexican.com
director of photography Clyde Mueller
Copy editing Kristie Jones
Advertising director Joe vigil, 986-3007
Marketing and design department
manager david del Mauro
Advertising layout Christine huffman
elspeth hilbert, scott Fowler,
dale deforest, bill Jacobi,
enrique Figueredo
retAiL Advertising sALes
Michael brendel, 995-3825
gary brouse, 995-3861
Cristina iverson, 995-3830
Alex J. Martinez, 995-3841
Jan Montoya, 995-3838
vincent torres, 995-3835
Art trujillo, 995-3820
rick Wiegers, 995-3840
onLine sALes MAnAger
Jim Keyes, 995-3819
technology director Michael Campbell
operations director Al Waldron
Assistant production director tim Cramer
Prepress manager dan gomez
Press manager Larry Quintana
Packaging manager brian schultz
CoMMerCiAL Print sALes
Web editor henry M. Lopez
office: 202 e. Marcy st.
hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
Advertising information: 505-986-3082
delivery: 505-984-0363, 800-873-3372
For copies of the magazine: 505-490-0316
pe rf ormi ng arts ce nte r
P ub L i s he d MAr Ch 3 0, 2 01 1
t. hArMon PArKhurst,
Courtesy PALACe oF the governors
Photo ArChives (nMhM/dCA), #50969
Lensic Theater, West San Francisco
Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico ca 1934
art, community
hank you to the community for an outstanding
decade as Santa Fe’s nonprofit performing arts
center! We have much to celebrate!
Ten years ago this april, the Lensic Theater was transformed from a struggling
movie house into the nonprofit Lensic Performing arts Center, home to the
city’s leading performing arts organizations and a center for community and
educational activities.
In an era when majestic theaters from coast to coast were demolished, the
Lensic was spared, thanks to a fundraising campaign that involved individuals,
businesses, the city of Santa Fe and local charitable foundations. It was an
investment in the city as a center for the arts and its downtown area. It was
also the continuation of a storied history.
The creation of the Lensic Theater is a modern fairytale. an immigrant
by the name of nathan Salmon found success as a merchant in the bustling
streets of Santa Fe in the early 20th century. In 1931, he built, with his son-in-
law, E. John Greer, the Lensic Theater as a magnificent palace for the people,
a welcoming refuge from the harsh reality of the Depression. The cornerstone
of the building reads, “Dedicated to the People of Santa Fe by nathan Salmon
and E. John Greer.” In april, the grand lady will turn 80 years old!
Since 2001, the Lensic has hosted or presented more than 200 events a year.
Through our Lensic Community Sponsorships, we have underwritten the
events of more than 150 local nonprofit groups. Each year, more than 15,000
schoolchildren come to the theater to see live performances as part of The
Lensic’s broad Education programs. We strive to create diverse, affordable
performances and events. There is something for everyone at the Lensic.
as a nonprofit, we are dependent upon donations to keep the Lensic
doors open. We must fundraise more than $1 million annually to fund our
Community Sponsorship, Education outreach and Lensic Presents programs.
We also raise funds so we may subsidize the cost of theater rental for every
presenter, organization and group that uses the space. all ticket proceeds go
directly to the presenters or groups using the theater.
as part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, we are proud to announce that
we have completed Phase I of a $3-million campaign to purchase the theater
— it is now truly our home! and now, to ensure our programs continue and
the Lensic remains a cutting-edge performance center and a home to Santa
Fe’s community and arts groups, we must replace outdated and deteriorating
equipment as well as make repairs to the building itself.
We have therefore launched Phase II, Fund the Future Campaign, to raise
$3 million to preserve and care for the Lensic and to continue our education,
community and presenting programs.
Finally, to celebrate 10 years of outstanding performances, events and
special moments and 80 years of history, we have many special events planned
this spring. Come celebrate!
With gratitude,
The Lensic Board and Staff
The Lensic
Performing ArTs
cenTer sTAff
Robert Martin
Executive Director
Laura Acquaviva
Special Events and Development Associate
Emily Crawford
Director of PR and Marketing
Aggie Damron-Garner
Director of Finance and Administration
Kyle Gavell
Lighting Supervisor
Maria Johnson
Marketing Assistant
Sarah LeBlanc
Production Manager and Internship Director
Dennis Mares
Bar Manager
Josh Phillips
Stage Supervisor
Kierstan Pickens
Director of Development
Alex Pigeon
Audio Supervisor
Brandon Richards
Administrative Assistant
Shelly Richmond
Connie Schaekel
Community Relations Manager
Laura Schotter
Business Manager
Steph Smith
Operations Director
TickeTs sAnTA fe
Jo Fisher
Director of Tickets Santa Fe
Nick Barral
Box Office Representative
Natalia Chavez
Box Office Manager and Contract Administrator
Tim Franke
Box Office Supervisor
Elizabeth Osborn
Box Office Representative
The Lensic
Performing ArTs
BoArd of direcTors
Nancy Zeckendorf
Chairman, Founding Director
Joe Schepps
Vice-Chairman, Founding Director
Michael Engl
Deborah Fleischaker
Vice President
Patricia McFate
Vice President, Founding Director
William Zeckendorf
Vice President, Founding Director
Deborah Gaynor
Francine Sommer
BoArd memBers
Charmay Allred
JoAnn Balzer
Lisa Barker
Susan Berk
Virginia Browning
Marian Casey
David Chase
Sydney Davis
Larry Delgado
Karen Durkovich
Lisa Enfield
Alexis Girard
Fidel Gutierrez
Bud Hamilton
Robin Hendricksen
Dr. Robert Martin
John McCusker
Kathie Reed
Richard Stolley
The Lensic
Performing ArTs cenTer
211 W. San Francisco St.
Tickets: 988-1234
Lensi c 10
anni versary
Tony Cragg, Mark di Suvero, Guy Dill, Jim Dine, Günther Förg, Helen Frankenthaler, François Morellet, Olivier Mosset, Robert Motherwell,
Mimmo Paladino, Pascal, Mary Shaffer, Tom Wesselmann, among others. . .
ClOCkWiSe: Guy Dill, MaRy SHaFFeR, TOny CRaGG, MaRk Di SuveRO, OlivieR MOSSeT, GünTHeR FöRG
435 SOuTH GuaDaluPe STReeT, SanTa Fe, nM 87501
505 982-8111 www.zanebennettgallery.com Tue–Sat 10–5, or by appointment
Railyard arts District Walk last Friday of every month c o n t e m p o r a r y a r t
New Spring Handbags
hen Santa Fe businessman Nathan Salmon
announced his plans for a lavish theatrical
palace for movies and vaudeville in 1930, it
was at the height of the Depression.
Was it a gamble or just good common sense? In those days, a mere 25 cents
could buy a welcome respite from worrying about putting food on the table,
and with three shows a day and a marquee that changed four times a week, a
quarter was a small price to pay for a few hours of relaxation.
Whether it was a risk or a canny business decision, Salmon’s venture has
turned out to be a bonanza for the residents of Santa Fe. And in some ways,
The Lensic Performing Arts Center of today is still very much the Lensic
Theater built in 1931, with both drawing renowned national and international
Renovated from a movie theater into an elegant performing-arts center just
10 years ago, the Lensic is celebrating its 80th birthday as a building. But it’s
the past 10 years that have moved the Lensic into a venue that offers much
more than movies and the occasional special event.
From the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet to local dance performances by Moving
People, from the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats to Circus Luminous by
Wise Fool, from simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera to screen classics such
as An American in Paris; from Ireland’s Lunasa to New York City’s Klezmatics,
the Lensic has become a performing-arts space known for quality and
“It’s definitely still an escape from your ordinary life,” said Alexis Girard, the
great-granddaughter of Nathan Salmon who runs the family business today,
Greer Enterprises.
Ten years ago, when a nonprofit group of community leaders approached
Greer Enterprises with an idea of leasing the space and turning it into a
performing arts center, Nathan Greer, Girard’s uncle, was very much in favor of
the plan. Greer died after the plans were well-launched, and Girard has shown
the same support.
“I don’t think anyone really knew how it would evolve exactly,” Girard said,
“but with Bob Martin’s leadership, it’s pretty much done what it said it would do.”
Martin, who began as the center’s general manager and is now executive
Escape Palace
For 80 years, the Lensic has helped Santa Fe relax
8 LENSI C 10
lensi c 10
anni versary
director, moved to Santa Fe in 2000 after eight years running
the Cowell Theater at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center.
“Our main goal was to have as many people who make
up the community to feel as connected as possible to the
Lensic,” said Martin, who remains committed to keeping the
theater available.
“If you start with a space from the ground up, it has no
history,” Martin said. “The reality with the Lensic was that
it already had 70 years of collective memory and collective
history. Understanding that and honoring that — so that
those people would feel there was still a place for them
— was so important.”
Santa Feans’ memories of the Lensic depend, of course,
on their age. Sarah Noss, executive director of the Santa Fe
Farmers Market Institute, remembers a drawing contest the
New Mexican sponsored in conjunction with the showing of
the 1971 film Red Sky at Morning, based on the 1968 novel by
Richard Bradford, who spent most of his adult life in Santa Fe.
The movie featured young heartthrob Desi Arnaz Jr.
“You had to draw a rooster and if you won, you got free
tickets,” said Noss, who was a youngster at the time. “I got an
honorable mention, so I got one ticket and my mom bought
another one.” Noss said her mother was a bit shocked by
some of the language in the film.
There’s something about an 80-year-old movie house
that just invites memories that stick, and that’s something
the owners have always known. Girard, an ex officio board
member, said part of the Lensic’s appeal is that it’s always
been so accessible to the community. “I think the opera is
sometimes perceived as elitist,” Girard said, “but the Lensic
is not perceived to be that way at all.”
Keeping that feeling of accessibility became a large part
of the plan when the Lensic Theater became a performing
arts center, creating a mixture of programs that attract a wide
cross-section of the area’s population. “You can have a place
that feels elite and stodgy or you can have a place where
people want to honor it and feel comfortable at the same
time,” Martin said.
T. Harmon ParkHursT,
CourTesy PalaCe of THe Governors PHoTo
arCHives (nmHm/DCa), #50969
Lensic Theater, West San Francisco Street,
Santa Fe, New Mexico ca 1934
kaTe russell
Patricia Racette performs cabaret tunes, a switch from her usual opera repertoire.
10 Lensi c 10
anni versary
In any given month- to three-month period, Martin said,
“There’s at least something that a lot of people want to go
see — dance, theater, film, a community event. Not that
many spaces have that sort of balance and combination of
artists from all over the world: presentations like the Met
simulcasts that coexist simultaneously with a community
fundraiser. What we’ve done is combine both, and also give
a creative vehicle for artists who live here.”
not Just a Movie theater
For the first 70 years of its life, the Lensic had primarily
been a movie theater. But what a movie theater it was. The
grand opening, June 24, 1931, featured a “talkie” starring
Janet Gaynor called Daddy Long Legs, with Chet Grass’ 12-
piece Frontier Knights Orchestra. Chet Grass also backed
up a dancer billed as “Miss Mae Delle, five foot two, eyes
of blue, in a series of Tap, Soft Shoe and Character Dances
(sic).” Tickets for the gala were $1 to $2.50, though the price
was considered an extra charge “because of the heavy extra
expense for orchestra and other specialties.”
Those were the flamboyant days when vaudeville revues
brought their own special pizzazz to theaters, or when stars
showed up at spots around the country to promote their
films. Claudette Colbert arrived for a celebrity premier of
Cleopatra, and Judy Garland sang “Zing Went the Strings
of My Heart” from her 1938 movie, Listen, Darling.
In 1941, Warner Brothers staged the premier of the
Civil War epic Santa Fe Trail at the Lensic, even though
the movie was not set or shot in Santa Fe. The studio
chartered a train to bring Errol Flynn and his co-star,
Olivia de Havilland, to Santa Fe. De Havilland developed
appendicitis and had to be operated on at St. Vincent
Hospital. Other stars who came to the Lensic to promote
their films included Ginger Rogers, Roy Rogers, Rita
Hayworth, Rudy Vallee, Charlton Heston, James Coburn
and Chuck Connors.
While the Lensic faced some tough competition in the
post-war years from drive-in movie theaters, television,
multiplex theaters and home videos, some of its glamour
came back with the Santa Fe Film Festival in the ’80s
with appearances by directors and stars like Francis Ford
Coppola, Robert Duvall, Sam Peckinpah, Lillian Gish and
Gene Kelly. Ray Bolger, who played the scarecrow in The
Wizard of Oz, even performed a tap dance while being
honored at the festival.
And in 1988, The Milagro Beanfield War had its world
premier at the Lensic. Buses were chartered to bring
residents of Truchas, where it was filmed, to the theater.
the road to renovation
Just over a decade ago, the Lensic’s future began to shift.
In the late ’90s, philanthropist Bill Zeckendorf learned
that Santa Fe Pro Musica was having to move its 1997-1998
season from the Lensic because of scheduling conflicts
with United Artists, which then ran the theater.
In early 1998, community-wide discussions about the
need for a performing space for various arts organizations
led to the formation of a nonprofit board hoping to rent
the Lensic and turn it into a performing space. There were
eight founding organizations involved — María Benítez
Teatro Flamenco, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Santa
Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Santa
Fe Opera, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Santa Fe Stages and the
Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus.
At the same time, the nonprofit group learned that
Nathan Greer, a descendant of Nathan Salmon who was
then running the family business, wanted to see the effort
The only catch was that the group determined it would
take about $9 million to make it work. Zeckendorf turned
to his wife, Nancy, to make that happen. Nancy Zeckendorf,
a former dancer who performed with the Metropolitan
Opera and the Santa Fe Opera, had just finished heading
up a major campaign for the renovation and roofing of the
opera. But she agreed to take the new project on.
The lead donation came from The Burnett Foundation of
Fort Worth, Texas, courtesy of Anne Marion, who pledged a
$1 million if Zeckendorf could raise $3 million.
Others joining in from within New Mexico were the
McCune Charitable Foundation, The Eugene V. and Clare
E. Thaw Charitable Trust, the Lannan Foundation and
the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation. From
outside New Mexico, support also came from The Brown
Foundation Inc. of Houston and the J.E. and L.E. Mabee
Foundation of Tulsa, Okla.
Locally, Joe Schepps’ Business Friends of the Lensic
raised almost $1 million, and the Texas Friends of the Lensic
raised nearly $250,000. Other gifts included outreach-
program support from American Express and Target.
saving the spirit
In renovating the Lensic, great care was given to saving the
spirit of glamor of the original theater. Apparently, when
Nathan Salmon decided to build the Lensic, in the back of
his mind was a Spanish-Moroccan style theater in El Paso.
Salmon and his son-in-law, E. John Greer Sr., decided to
hire the premier “atmospheric theater” designers of the day,
the Boller Brothers.
Robert and Carl Boller of Kansas City, Mo., and Los
Angeles had been building theaters throughout the country
since 1900 and would continue to do that into the 1950s.
The Bollers had already designed the KiMo in Albuquerque,
finished in 1927, and El Morro in Gallup, finished in 1928
— just two of some 90 theaters the brothers designed.
Salmon and Greer decided to hold a contest to name
the theater. Contestants had to use the initials of Salmon’s
grandchildren (Greer’s children). The winner of the $25
prize was Mrs. F.J. Smithwick, who came up with “Lensic.”
Besides the obvious reference to the lens of a movie
projector, the letters stood for Lila, E. John Jr., Nathan, Sara,
Mary Irene and Charles.
“My mother was Lila,” said Girard recently, who recalled
growing up in Santa Fe with 11 of her cousins, all about the
same age. “The theater was sort of like a babysitter for us.
Left, Courtesy photo right, Luis sÁnChez saturno
Music fills the Lensic with such varied performances as New Mexico legend Roberto Mondragón (left) and the Santa Fe Symphony.
We would be at my grandmother’s house on Don Gaspar,
and we’d be sent to the movies to get out of everyone’s hair.”
The family still had original design drawings from 1929,
so when it came time to restore the theater, there was an
easy referral plan. One of the features that has always drawn
attention are the three crystal chandeliers in the lobby, which
date back to the theater’s opening. The center chandelier
supposedly came from the Roxy Theatre, which opened
in 1927 in New York City. It has a few hundred strands
containing perhaps a thousand lead-crystal elements.
Who Was Nathan Salmon and
How Did He Get to Santa Fe?
According to Lensic records, Nathan Salmon was born
Na’aman Soleiman in Biskinta, Syria, July 1866. He arrived
in New York at age 21, and two months later, headed west to
Durango, Colo. Salmon sold goods from a wagon for three
years on the back roads of southern Colorado.
On his way back to Europe, he met his bride-to-be in New
Orleans. But as they were returning to Durango, they got
stranded in a snowstorm in Santa Fe. Salmon was down to
his last 25 cents, so he pawned his watch to wire a friend
for a loan and was able to continue his business as a cart
peddler. Business went well and in 1894, Salmon bought a
dry goods store on San Francisco Street. According to the
family, the down payment came from his winnings playing
Salmon also bought property in Santa Fe and
Albuquerque and by the time he died in 1941, was ranked
among the wealthiest men in New Mexico. Beginning in
1911, Salmon had opened and closed several small theaters
before drawing plans for a lavish movie palace, the Lensic.
Today, that theater remains an anchor in downtown Santa
Fe. As Mayor David Coss said at a recent news conference
announcing the new fund-raising campaign, “This is a
cultural institution for Santa Fe that those of us who grew
up here still treasure.”
In the past 10 years, the Lensic has increased its own
independent production and presentation schedule to
present some 30 percent of the overall programming,
• The Lensic Presents series, with performances ranging
from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and new work by the Flying
Karamazov Brothers to the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in
HD simulcasts.
• Big Screen Classics, which has established itself as the
thing to do on Valentine’s Day, with favorites like An
American in Paris, as well as popular draws throughout
the year such as Harold and Maude and 2001: A Space
• World Music Series, with more than 40 concerts since
• Under Construction, which showcases professional
writers and actors in theatrical pieces under development.
Under Bob Martin’s direction, the Lensic also has nurtured
its commitment to encourage the creativity of the local arts
community, including:
• Circus Luminous, which has become an annual
Thanksgiving extravaganza since 2003.
• Nuestra Musica, a festival of Nuevo Mexicano music,
produced in partnership with the Museum of Spanish
Colonial Arts since 2001. A grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts also supports the festival.
• New Mexico Jazz Festival, with partners the Outpost
Performance Space in Albuquerque and the Santa Fe Jazz
• Artistic partnerships with local nonprofit and for-profit
groups that have included a locally written and performed
opera, Memorylines Santa Fe: Voices from a Collective
Journey, created with The Santa Fe Opera and Santa Fe’s
Little Globe Productions.
The Lensic also takes its expertise into the community
via its outreach programs at high schools, including a
collaboration with National Geographic’s All Roads Film
Project and the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops through
Future Voices New Mexico.
A busy place
Foundi ng groups
Current groups
Courtesy photo
Carrie Fisher
Natalie GuillÉN
Sean Anderson (as Webster) and Jamie-Rose Guarrine (as Melody) perform as part of the annual Spring Tour
by Santa Fe Opera apprentices in 2010.
leNSi c 10
ANNi verSAry 11
12 Lensi c 10
anni versary
Box office
serves entire
Santa Fe
B y P oL L y s um m a r
here’s no end to the list of famous people
who have appeared at The Lensic Performing
Arts Center. But the all-time fastest ticket sell-
“It was for noam Chomsky — 22 minutes,” said Jo Fisher, director
of Tickets santa Fe, perhaps better known as the Lensic Box office.
Linguist, philosopher and political activist Chomsky was in town as
part of the Lannan Foundation readings & Conversations. “The 22
minutes went by in a flash. It was dealing with everyone afterward that
got contentious.”
Tickets for the Lannan Foundation evenings are the most
inexpensive tickets the box office sells — $3 for seniors and $6 for
adults. That fact — along with the full scope of what Tickets santa Fe
does — are some of the least understood facets of the Lensic.
“We’re not just a box office for shows at the Lensic,” Fisher said. At
any one point, tickets for hundreds of events on are sale, even nine
months into the future, and many of them are not at the Lensic. other
venues range from Corazón and evangelos to outpost Performance
space in Albuquerque and san Francisco de Asis Church in ranchos
de Taos.
“I think there’s the perception that we’re taking in so much money
and that everything stays here — which is absolutely not the case,”
Fisher said. “All the money goes out to the groups who have contracted
with us, both for Lensic and non-Lensic events ...That money is theirs
— we are just the booking agent, and decidedly a nonprofit.”
Tickets santa Fe provides a service for smaller groups that can’t
handle ticket sales on their own, whether for lack of staff or lack of
“We were always ticketing for the symphony and desert Chorale, so
it was a logical next step to expand it,” Fisher said. “We had the staff
and the technological equipment.”
The first outside group to use the box office’s services was the santa
Fe Botanical Garden. “They called us and said, ‘You sell tickets, right?
Could you sell them for us?’ ” Fisher said. “And now we’ve been doing
it for 10 years.”
There’s a set-up fee and an event fee — “and that’s how we keep the
box office going,” Fisher said — but beyond that, all the money goes to
the sponsoring organization.
The small office in the lobby of the Lensic “holds three people
comfortably,” Fisher said. “however, we have another phone station
upstairs, and we have an office in the community convention center
with more terminals that we staff three days a week, three hours a day.
We all look at exactly the same screen.”
The Lensic’s most popular event — when Fisher knows she needs
every able body, computer screen and phone line possible — has
become the Metropolitan opera simulcasts. In April 2010, Fisher said
people were in line four hours before the box office opened.
Fisher, who has been with Tickets santa Fe since the Lensic’s
renovation, said working at the Lensic is never dull. “You wouldn’t
believe the things found in the Lensic theater after shows. one thing
that still puzzles me is a lady’s tube top. I mean, wouldn’t you notice?”
Tickets Santa Fe is open
from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or until
showtime, Monday-Fridays;
from noon-4 p.m. or until
showtime, Saturday; and
from noon until showtime
Sunday, if there’s a show.
Otherwise the Lensic box
office is closed on Sundays.
The satellite office for
Tickets Santa Fe is open at
the Santa Fe Community
Convention Center from
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday,
Wednesday and Thursday.
Call Tickets Santa Fe at
505-988-1234 or visit
ticket takers
lensi c 10
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All events at the Lensic unless otherwise
noted. Call 988-1234 for tickets, or visit
April 2
The Lensic PresenTs
Folk legend Arlo Guthrie
7 p.m. $20-$45
April 3
sAnTA Fe indiAn schooL sPoken
Word TeAm & The Lensic PresenTs
moccasins and microphones, modern
Native storytelling.
5 p.m. $10
April 4
sAnTA Fe oPerA YouTh evenT
Words and music
9:30 and 11:30 a.m.
April 8
And The Lensic PresenTs
nrityagram, a dance ensemble from
southern India
7:30 p.m. $20-$72
April 9
The Lensic
& The sAnTA Fe oPerA PresenT
The met: Live in hd, Le Comte Ory
11 a.m. Live $25; 6 p.m. encore $22/$15
April 12
The Lensic PresenTs
Trey mcintyre Project, contemporary ballet
7 p.m. $25-$50
April 13
LAnnAn FoundATion
Readings & Conversations
kay ryan with Atsuro riley
Ryan authored Niagara River and The Jam Jar
Lifeboat & Other Novelties Exposed.
7 p.m. $7/$4 seniors & students
April 16
The Lensic 10Th AnniversArY
GALA ceLeBrATion
Festivities include special performances at
The Lensic followed by black-tie reception
and dinner at La Fonda. Dance the night
away to music by Soulstice
5 p.m. $250 includes Gala at La Fonda and
preferred seating at Lensic. $50 & $25 for
Lensic event only.
April 19
The Lensic, ouTPosT
PerFormAnce sPAce & nATionAL
hisPAnic cuLTurAL cenTer
Los muñequitos de matanzas, rumba and
folk music from Cuba
7 p.m. $20-$40
April 20
The Lensic PresenTs
Big Screen Classics Modern Times,
Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film
7 p.m. $5
April 23
The Lensic
& The sAnTA Fe oPerA PresenT
The met: Live in hd, Capriccio
11 a.m. Live $25; 6 p.m. encore $22/$15
April 26
FuTure voices neW mexico
Presentation and Award ceremony
This partnership between The Lensic &
National Geographic provides New Mexico’s
high school students the opportunity to
become filmmakers and photographers.
10 a.m. Free
Reservations required, contact
Connie Schaekel, 988-7050, ext. 210.
April 29
The Lensic PresenTs
nuestra música, the 11th annual event
celebrating New Mexico’s musical heritage.
7 p.m. $10/seniors FREE
April 30
The Lensic & The sAnTA Fe oPerA
The met: Live in hd, Il Trovatore
11 a.m. Live $25; 6 p.m. encore $22/$15
may 1
The neW mexico JAzz FesTivAL
Gary Burton & chick corea duet
7 p.m. $30-$65
may 3
nuesTrA músicA YouTh evenT
Students learn about the roots of
New Mexico’s musical heritage.
Lensic Education Program & the PASS
may 4
LAnnAn FoundATion
Readings & Conversations
chimamanda ngozi Adichie with
Binyavanga Wainaina
Adichie’s award-winning second novel, Half
of a Yellow Sun, illuminates Biafra’s struggle
to establish an independent republic in
southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s.
7 p.m. $7/$4 seniors & students
may 5
FiesTA counciL
Fiesta court selections
*Lensic Community Sponsorship
7:30 p.m. Free
may 9
sAnTA Fe oPerA PresenTs
Lifesongs in concert
A project of The Santa Fe Opera Community
Engagement Program and Littleglobe.
Tickets and Time TBA
Lensic 10th Anniversary
Calendar of Events
Arlo Guthrie
students from the santa Fe indian school spoken Word team will be back again to perform on
April 3 in moccasins and microphones. This is last year’s performance.
Los muñequitos de matanzas, rumba and
folk music from cuba
14 LENSI C 10
©2010 www.insightfoto.com


1o 1ni ii×sic viviovri×o »v1s ci×1iv
We’re proud to perform on vour stage.
Marc Neikrug, Artistic Director
Intimate. Compelling. Unforgettable.
• 2011 •
loi× is ioi oii 39
 505.982.1890 / 888.221.9836
J -A 
Celebrating 21 years of nationally recognized visual art education
for children and youth ages 4-21. It’s a FACT. ART SAVES LIVES.
“The arts broaden children’s horizons and help them
discover a talent or mission or purpose they never knew
they had. Fine Arts for Children & Teens is using
achievement in the arts as a bridge to achievement
in life.” First Lady Michelle Obama
lensi c 10
anni versary 15
B y P ol l y s umma r
pproaching the 10-year anniversary of its
rebirth as a home for the arts, the Lensic performing arts
center board and staff faced the same situation many
renters do. they were putting a lot of money into a building they
didn’t own — maybe it was time to buy.
so last summer, with the help of donors and a low-interest loan from First national Bank
of santa Fe, the Lensic performing arts center quietly bought its home, an 80-year-old
community landmark. all told, including buying the building and paying associated
costs, the purchase totaled $3 million.
only nobody knew.
“it wasn’t as much a secret … as that it made more sense to let everyone know when
how to donate
Contributions to the Lensic’s Fund the Future preservation fund can be made by
calling 988-7050, ext. 212, visiting www.lensic.org (click on “Support the Lensic”) or
mailing checks to the Lensic Fund the Future, 211 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe,
NM 87501.
The $3 million campaign to preserve the building and its programming will run
from April 2011 through December 2012.
Become a memBer
You can be a Friend of the Lensic for $100 and up. A Lensic Leader membership
starts at $1,000. Learn more at www.lensic.org. Click on Support the Lensic to find
various ways to help, including becoming a Business Donor.
solid ground
A crowd gathers for
Mariachi Matinee last fall,
part of the Santa Fe Fiesta
entertainment offerings.
Luis sÁnchez saturno
we were approaching the 10th anniversary and we would launch the preservation fund,”
said Bob Martin, executive director of the center. The fundraising goal for that drive?
Another $3 million, dedicated to keeping the Lensic a top-notch performing-arts space
for traveling and local groups. The total $6 million campaign is being called Preserve
the Legacy, Fund the Future. The $3 million now being raised will allocate $1.5 million
to building needs and another $1.5 million to programming for The Lensic Presents,
Community Sponsorships and the Education programs. (Helping the Lensic’s future is
Santa Fe County’s approval of removing the building from the tax rolls because of its
educational status.)
Along with celebrating the Lensic anniversary (10 years as a nonprofit and 80 years
total for the building) is a new focus on educating Santa Fe about what the Lensic is and
is not.
“The irony is that so many people thought we already owned it or they thought the
city owned it,” Martin said, adding that many people also think the theater keeps the
box-office revenues from groups that perform at the Lensic. “We rent the space to groups,
and for nonprofits, the rent is about half our operating costs.” Revenues stay with the
performing groups.
Annually, the Lensic’s budget is about $2.4 million, Martin said, with about a fifth of
that going toward the building itself. “It’s somewhere between $400,000 and $450,000 to
pay for utilities and upkeep, not even for staff time.”
“Starting right around now, we need to put about $100,000 each year into the Lensic,”
Martin said. Recent improvements include a state-of-the-art light board at $35,000; a new
soundboard purchased last year a for $27,500; and $11,000 on fire-retardant treatment for
the curtains. The seat cushions need to be replaced, and that will cost $5,000, he said.
Up to now, Martin said the organization has been able to take care of building needs
What the Lensic needs
Keeping a community theater at the kind of international level required to host
such groups as the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats and Ireland’s Lunasa takes
considerable upkeep.
Steph Smith, operations director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center, said a
community theater can easily fall into disrepair. “I used to tour out of New York
City with dance shows all over the country and you’d almost always come into
theaters that used to be nice but weren’t any more,” he said.
The Lensic’s to-do list for the preservation fund includes such expenses as
chilled water pumps for cooling the theater, $26,000; heated pumps for heating
the theater, $22,000; new carpeting for the theater, $21,000; lightning protection,
$18,000 (the building was hit by lightning in 2004, which destroyed a significant
amount of stage equipment); a full “fall-arrest” system for the front of the house
to protect theatergoers from falling, $13,550 (the Lensic has a partial system
now); updating amplifiers, $7,500; a new movie screen, $7,000 (the current one
was installed in the 1950s); replacing 10-year-old lighting equipment, $6,638;
replacing bottom seat cushions in the theater seating, $5,000; and updating
monitors, $4,500.
Smith said a new line array sound system would cost $58,000, an item on the
wish list. “Technology changes — it could sound better with a line array,” he said.
The theater’s budget for utilities and upkeep — not even staff time — is
somewhere between $400,000 and $450,000 a year, according to executive
director Bob Martin.
The Lensic recently spent money for things the public might not notice, Smith
said. The curtains, according to code regulation, were taken down and sent to a
company in Los Angeles that re-fireproofs them and sends them back. “We have
recently done that with our main drape,” Smith said. “You’re wasting money if you
replace them.”
The stage floor was also sanded, resanded and finished, at a cost of $11,000.
With a fine touch
Imagine an architectural project where the goal is for no one to notice that any
changes have been made.
That’s what architect Craig Hoopes said is his greatest accomplishment with
the renovation of the 80-year-old Lensic theater, begun about a decade ago.
“People who grew up in Santa Fe walk into the building and they still feel it’s the
building they grew up with,” Hoopes said.
In fact, the shape of the theater was completely redone. “We excavated dirt and
changed concrete to get better sight lines,” Hoopes said. “You had to be able to
see people’s feet on stage, dancers, not just the movie screen.”
And the balcony was so deep that acoustically the sound would get trapped
underneath it. “Old-timers told us they would never sit under the balcony because
they could never hear,” Hoopes said. So the back of the auditorium under the
balcony was pulled forward, which gave the space for two bars and the sound
booth, and acoustically increased the value of those seats.
“We redesigned the baclony and added more seats there,” Hoopes said. “We
ended up with the same number of seats, 830, but where they are and how the
space is configured is very different … but people walk in and just think it’s the
same building.”
Hoopes, who has done a number of theaters in the East, was especially excited
by the challenge of meeting the requirements of the different founding arts
groups. “It was as varied as the symphony and symphony chorus that needed a
long reverberation sound so the music tones could mix properly,” Hoopes said.
“And on the other end of the spectrum there was Santa Fe Stages doing theater
work and so you don’t want any reverberation in the hall for the spoken word.”
Hoopes said the renovation also included accommodations and flexibility for
the future, “like big empty conduits to run wire through and put in different sorts
of equipment.”
— P ol l y S umma r
Clyde Mueller
The 2000 remodeling took care to maintain the building’s apperance. On the scaffolding in
July 2000 were construction workers Alfredo and Pedro Moreno, with Fredrico Gonzalez,
(sitting on the wall). They were knocking loose bricks.
16 lenSi c 10
anni verSary
lensi c 10
anni versary 17
through its operating budget. “We started talking about whether it did not make sense
to try to purchase the building. Anything we put in structurally was not ours,” he said.
Keeping a historical theater in working shape is much more involved than simply
maintaining the building. “Every three to five years, there’s a next bump-up in
technology,” Martin said. With national and international acts appearing at the Santa
Fe theater, the building’s computer technology has to be able to interact at the most
current level.
But raising money for improvements is difficult without also owning the building,
all involved agree.
“When we first started to do the renovations, my husband (Bill Zeckendorf) tried to
buy the building,” said board chair Nancy Zeckendorf. “But Nate Greer did not want
to sell it, so we had a 75-year lease negotiated by my husband. But we really knew we
wanted to own the building, so as we do repairs and upgrades, people knew they would
be putting money into something they own.”
More recently, Nancy Zeckendorf was approached by Greg Ellena, president
and chief executive officer of the First National Bank of Santa Fe with an offer of
a low-interest loan. “We view the Lensic as a piece of critical infrastructure for the
community, and we think it’s an appropriate community service for our bank,” said
Ellena, who declined to specify the interest rate. “Without the Lensic, Santa Fe
wouldn’t be Santa Fe.”
The Lensic was purchased under a condominium arrangement with Greer
Enterprises, now run by Alexis Girard, a great-grandaughter of Lensic builder Nathan
Salmon. “We bought the theater, which is everything people see,” Zeckendorf said.
“Backstage, bathrooms, the theater. We weren’t interested in buying the retail stores.”
The theater itself is 12,446 square feet; with the atrium and bathroom area, it’s 13,353
square feet.
Girard said she and her family want the Lensic “to thrive and to continue to thrive.”
Part of the arrangement is that Girard has moved from being an honorary board
member to being a full board member. “Typically, it will always have a family member on
it,” Girard said.
Zeckendorf, who raised most of the $9 million more than a decade ago to get the
Lensic renovations started, echoed Martin’s remarks about how the public is still
confused about how the Lensic operates. “They see how busy we are,” she said, “and
they assume we’re earning money. It is very hard to explain. Half of our budget is earned
income and the other half is contributed. If we didn’t have the latter, we wouldn’t be able to
operate. We subsidize everything that goes on the stage, so that those organizations can
keep tickets affordable.”
For a nonprofit to rent the Lensic on a Saturday night — with box-office service
included — the cost is about $1,700, half what it actually costs, Martin said. That includes
utilities, per-day insurance and staff costs. Martin said that founding organizations of the
Lensic, such as the Santa Fe Chamber Festival, the Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Fe Concert
Association and Santa Fe Pro Musica, receive an even better rate.
Joe Schepps, vice chairman of the board, also heads the business leaders’ fund drive and
raises money for the operating budget. He said he hopes to raise $80,000 this year in the
difficult economy. “Four or five years ago, $120,000 was an attainable goal, but $80,000 is
not bad,” Schepps said. “Everyone is stepping up.”
Schepps said businesses understand the impact of the Lensic to Santa Fe: “You give $1
and its impact is multifold.”
Craig Fritz
Bob Martin, general manager of the Lensic Center for the Performing Arts, at the front of
the stage while dancers rehearse in 2001.
Clyde Mueller
Nancy Zeckendorf and Alexis Girard
luis sÁnChez saturno
Mayor David Coss at the March news conference announcing the purchase of the Lensic.
B y S e a n B r a nde r
ew who perform at the Lensic forget
the experience. Whether it’s the
audience, the physical space, or the city
that forms the theater’s character, memories
of a night on stage, even years after, remain
bright and vivid.
Opera singer Patricia Racette remembers well her first
performance, when audiences heard her belt out cabaret
rather than her usual repertoire of Puccini and Tchaikovsky.
“It was literally the first time in anyone in Santa Fe heard
me not use my operatic voice,” she said. “It was extremely
memorable. The silence (of the audience) was palpable.
During my second cabaret evening, I managed to forget the
words not once but twice.”
However, she found the Santa Fe audience to be generous
and playful. “I included the audience in my glitches, and
they were most amused to experience just how ‘live’ a
performance can be!” she said.
To Mexican-American singer and songwriter Lila Downs,
the Lensic is special for many reasons. “It’s because of the
people and the beauty and history of the theater,” she said.
“It’s really quite lovely and also inspiring, especially when I
sing the rancheras from the era when the theater was built.”
Downs expressed special affection for her Lensic
audiences. “They sing along; they shout out their requests
for favorite songs; it’s like a family gathering and everyone
participates,” she said. “I always seem to have a good laugh
y unas quantes lagrimas, ( just a few tears) and leave with a
full heart.”
The beauty outside the theater also makes it
extraordinary, Downs said. “I think it’s that desert climate,
the ultra-blue sky, and the reflected sunsets on the Sangre
de Cristos that put it in perspective for me. There really is
no other place exactly like it.”
Downs recalled an instance when she and her band
“stepped out the back door of the theater after sound check
and it was so beautiful. We got everyone together outside
and took a spontaneous group photo which ended up being
the back cover of our live CD. So we were able to keep a
little piece of Santa Fe’s magic.”
Santa Fe itself also is part of the Lensic lure for the Irish
lads of Lunasa. Kevin Crawford, who plays the flute for the
traditional Celtic music group, says the members try to slot
a day off in Santa Fe whenever they come to play the Lensic.
“That’s not something we usually do,” he said. “We love the
food and some of our closest friends live here. But for me
especially it’s important that I go shopping at the Palace (of
the Governors) for jewelry for my wife so I can bring a piece
of Santa Fe home.”
“The Lensic audience is like no other,” Crawford said,
echoing the sentiment of other performers. “They’re not
like any other American audience, they’re free-spirited and
not afraid to express themselves.”
Crawford said the band’s most unusual Lensic experience
was the reaction of the Sikh community. “A big group of
them came to the show, all of them. They were dancing in
the aisles with their hands waving and their legs going.” he
said. “It was enlightening to see that people could react that
way to our music.”
Lunasa has performed at the Lensic five times. The
group has developed such a loyal audience that in 2009, it
canceled a White House performance because of a conflict
with a sold-out Lensic show. “We don’t come across a
theater like the Lensic very often,” Crawford said. “It’s our
favorite in terms of the acoustics, the architecture, and the
people working there. The people, they don’t treat it like
a day job — the hospitality and welcome you receive, their
attention to detail, it’s quite something.”
Local mixed media artist and musician Terry Allen
also heaped praise on the Lensic’s staff. “It’s the best crew
I’ve ever worked with,” Allen said. “They did everything
possible to accommodate us.”
Allen’s Ghost Ship Rodez required elaborate set
projectors and timing work. To finish the technically
demanding show on time, Allen had to run rehearsals
simultaneously with set construction. The Lensic staff
pulled it off.
“They went the distance. That’s a very rare thing,” he
For Allen, one of the best parts of the Lensic is the
opportunity to share the stage with other performers and
feeling the strange, almost intangible spirit of the place
work through them. “It’s an amazing blessing to be on the
stage with people who you respect and admire,” he said.
“Theater is such a mystery,” he expanded. “You don’t
know what’s going to happen. I live in wonder of that
crapshoot. But with the Lensic, you can feel comfortable
in that insecure situation. You don’t feel like you have an
objective at the end, you’re just inventing a memory for
yourself and the audience. The environment encourages
that, it provides that climate.”
Perla Batalla sang at the Lensic soon after it reopened
as a performance venue. The former Leonard Cohen
backup singer had just the year before released her third
independent album. “I felt so welcome,” she said. “There
seemed to be electricity in the air and I don’t think it was
the altitude! I think I felt the energy of years gone by,” she
“The old vaudeville performers still seem to live there
in the rafters. I was keenly aware that there was a different
energy in the hall,” she continued. “I felt the many ghosts
of performers of days gone by, but the ghosts were not
scary at all. They were almost part of the audience and
giving those of us on stage pure love and support. I am not
prone to believing in these sorts of things, but my band felt
it, too.”
star perspective
The Lensic:‘No other place exactly like it’
18 LenSi c 10
anni verSary
Lila Downs
lensi c 10
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B y P ol l y s umma r
n a sunny morning last fall, yellow school buses began
pulling up in front of The Lensic Performing Arts Center.
“It’s so fun to see them, all tumbling out of the buses,” said Connie Schaekel,
community-relations manager for the Lensic.
Every year, more than 15,000 students ride school buses to the Lensic for special
performances, ranging fromThe Nutcracker to Circus Luminous. Lensic staff estimates
that more than 10,000 students
have seen The Nutcracker
performed each holiday
season at the theater. Some
14 events arranged specially
for youngsters are scheduled
each year, with 27 area schools
invited to attend.
On this morning, the
youngsters are there to hear
Santa Fe Pro Musica and its
featured musician, 16-year-old
piano prodigy Conrad Tao.
Youngsters scheduled to attend
range from homeschoolers to
students from Carlos Gilbert
Elementary, Gonzales and El
Dorado Community Schools
and the private Tara School.
But Hana Messier, a
sixth-grader at El Dorado
Community School, was a little
more interested in the bass
player than the piano player.
“I just started the stand-up
bass three weeks ago,” Messier
said. Normally, she plays the
California electric bass in
her band, Dark Star. “We play
mostly stuff … like ‘American
Woman’ and ‘Mountain Man.’
But we make it more intense.
We only play music, no words.”
Messier is part of the
orchestra at El Dorado Community School, directed by Carla Kountoupes, also a member
of Pro Musica. “These are all fifth- and sixth-graders,” said Kountoupes, looking over her
young charges, who quickly filed into the first several rows in the theater.
Her reason for bring them is simple. “I hope they see what a real professional looks and
sounds like,” Kountoupes said.
“Actually, I go here all the time,” Messier said. “My aunt likes jazz and plays and Wise
Fool, so I go with her to that. My mom likes acoustic, so I go with her to that. My brother
likes ‘out there’ kind of music. Whatever’s here, I go with them.”
Part of the mission executive director Bob Martin foresaw when he joined the Lensic as
general manager before its renovation was pulling young people into its performances.
“Kids have a better chance if, early on, they see the possibilities of life,” he told The Santa
Fe New Mexican in 2001. “The ultimate goal is to create crossover audiences. It will take
awhile, but we can be useful in trying to bring the whole community together.”
young eyes
Keeping kids engaged is central
to Lensic’s mission
Luis sÁnchez saturno
Buses ferry children from Tara, Carlos Gilbert, Gonzales
and El Dorado schools to a Santa Fe Pro Musica
performance last October.
You’ve found Santa Fe, now let’s fnd
your Santa Fe Home.
Connie Young
505.820.3525 505.470.3826
... and thank you for providing education
and outreach to youth in the arts!
NMSchoolForTheArts.org 505.310.4194
B y C a r me l l a Pa di l l a
n the movie of my youth, a red velvet curtain parts in the
middle. Time is momentarily suspended as dimming lights
cast shadows in the cavernous space beyond my balcony-
top view. With a flash, a smoky circle of projection light
illuminates the black picture screen, and I am transported to a
world part drama, part dream.
A bushy-bearded man and a mammoth grizzly bear move through a wild western landscape.
In the prelude to this 19th-century story, farmer James Adams has fled civilization after
being falsely accused of a crime. Deep in the woods, he rescues an orphan grizzly cub
from the edge of a rocky slope and names him Ben. Now the majestic brown beast lumbers
through life alongside Adams, whose legend as an animal-friendly frontiersman spreads far
and wide.
I was 10 when I saw the 1974 epic, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. It was just past dinner
on a summer night, and my father drove my brother, Carlos, and I downtown to the Lensic
Theater. It was not every day that Dad that took us to the movies; he preferred the comfort of
the old Magnavox in the theater of our family room. But my nature-loving father found the big-
screen promise of unencumbered wilderness and a gregarious grizzly hard to resist. Balancing
20 LensI c 10
annI versary
Craig Fritz
Cate Blanchett fills the screen at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, where Charolette Gray was the opening night movie for the
Santa Fe Film Festival 2001.
‘ wonder
of the
to today’s
arts center,
the Lensic
draws in
Santa Fe
lensi c 10
anni versary 21
22 Lensi c 10
anni versary
armloads of Coke, buttered popcorn and Raisinets, we ascended the theater’s carpeted
stairway and settled into our balcony seats. As the theater went dark, and the adventures
of Ben and Grizzly carried us away, I felt a surge of love and appreciation for the great
outdoors — but especially, for my father, who had sacrificed an evening with Dean Martin
or Archie Bunker for something so much bigger than us all.
Nearly four decades later, I realize that my recollection of that night at the Lensic is
somewhat romanticized. Dad and Carlos surely remember it differently, if they remember it
at all. If I recall the lesser details, I’m sure the seats were probably too small for my father’s
6-foot-3 frame, and the floor was soda-pop sticky beneath our feet. At some point, Carlos
and I probably got bored with the movie. We probably snuck down to the balcony bottom
and tossed popcorn over the lower-level seats. This would have been about the same time
that Dad fell asleep.
But if first impressions are what counts, then mine was not in the reel-to-reel details.
Sharing Grizzly Adams with my father and brother was a special experience, but it was
the Lensic’s powerful sense of place that most impacted me. From its soaring ceilings and
gilded interiors, to the image of a Spanish señorita in a mural at the foot of the stairs, the
Lensic impressed me as a maze of otherworldly beauty and imagination. The theater was
clearly part of Santa Fe, and yet, it felt so very far away. It was a world beyond the bounds of
my 10-year-old life, a step out of time and mind, a glamorous, glorious escape.

Like so many of my memories of old Santa Fe, my Lensic memories are filtered through the
memories of my father, Reyes, and mother, Zenaida. They, like many lifelong Santa Feans,
not only remember the Lensic back then, during my youth, they remember it when.
When was 1931, the year that Nathan Salmon and his son-in-law, E. John Greer Sr.,
dedicated what Salmon called the “wonder theater of the Southwest” to the people of Santa
Fe. It was the era of the “picture palace,” when large and lavish movie houses boasting
T. Harmon ParkHursT,
CourTesy PalaCe of THe Governors PHoTo arCHives (nmHm/DCa), #50970
The lobby has a grand atmosphere, evoking a more luxurious era.
DaviD GranT noble, CourTesy
PalaCe of THe Governors PHoTo arCHives (nmHm/DCa), #152362
Movies kept playing through the decades —including this 1983 feature.
flamboyant architecture and exotic themes appeared nationwide. The theater on West San
Francisco Street was designed to be artistically state-of-the-art and architecturally over-the-
top-part Moorish, part Spanish, with an air of Arabian nights. The Lensic featured movies
and live acts, along with such amenities as a ballroom, rooftop garden, café, soda fountain
and tobacco shop. For the city’s 11,000 residents, who were steeped in the hardship of the
Great Depression, the Lensic was at once luxurious and surreal.
It wasn’t Salmon and Greer’s first entertainment venture. Their Paris Theater had
screened Westerns and other film fare a few doors east of the Lensic, since 1915. It also
wasn’t their last. In 1940, they would open the Alley Theater (short for Burro Alley),
featuring popular Mexican films, directly across from the Lensic. With the addition of the
Lensic, West San Francisco Street was Santa Fe’s movie Mecca.
Then 6 and 7, respectively, Dad and Mom were too young to attend the Lensic’s opulent
black-tie, grand-opening evening of orchestral music, dancing, political speeches, and a
screening of Daddy Long Legs, starring Janet Gaynor and Warren Baxter. But they weren’t
too young to notice that the new theater raised the bar on local entertainment. It had cost
them a nickel to see a cowboy-and-Indian matinee at the Paris. The Lensic, however, was
reserved for first-run Hollywood films; a matinee cost 25 cents. It was pricey, but worth
every saved penny to see the latest Shirley Temple film. And the thrill of seeing the original
versions of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind has lasted my parents a lifetime.
Aside from the Hollywood glamor, Mom fondly recalls Saturday mornings at the
Lensic. That’s when Mead’s Fine Bread, a local bakery, sponsored a kids’ talent show. She
remembers one friend’s flirty rendition of The Lady in Red. She can still see her sister,
Candelaria, hamming it up on stage. Once, she recalls, she even ventured onstage herself,
singing, “I take a bath every Saturday night, cold or hot, whether I need it or not.” For that
peculiar verse, Mom took home a fresh-baked prize.
As the 1930s became the 1940s, and Mom and Dad grew up, the Lensic remained a hub of
Santa Fe’s social life. The bottom level of the theater boasted a smoking section with cushy
leather rockers. These were prime real estate for smokers like Mom’s sister, Cordelia. The
balcony welcomed smokers, too. After the war, when Mom and Dad were dating, they often
headed to the theater heights to smoke — and smooch.
Those were simpler, special days in Santa Fe. But like the rest of the world, everything
changed after the war. In the late 1940s, the Paris Theater burned down. It was it was rebuilt
as the El Paseo Theater, which eventually went the way of a retail clothing store. The Alley
Theater closed in 1968. With the advent of television and drive-in movies, traditional movie
houses began to lose appeal. The Lensic, however, was more than a movie house; it was a
beloved city landmark. The Lensic endured.

Within a year of my first Lensic experience, I was a regular. I took every opportunity to
convince a friend to walk downtown and see a film. If I couldn’t find a friend to join me, I
went alone. I saw countless movies, but a few stand out. In 1975, I decided to check out a
movie about a shark. Having grown up in landlocked Santa Fe, I was utterly unprepared
for the terror of Jaws. I didn’t return to the Lensic for weeks. In 1977, I stood in line with a
friend for hours as one sold-out showing of Star Wars led to another. When we finally made
it to the ticket window outside the theater, it was time to go home. I returned the next day to
one of the most thrilling big-screen experiences of my life.
lensi c 10
anni versary 23
In the Lensic’s early days, ushers escorted movie-goers to their
seats. When I was growing up, Larry Oyaca welcomed you in. Larry
was my neighbor who lived across the street. He was older than me,
and mentally challenged, and he was much beloved at the Lensic.
Larry stood just inside the lobby beside a tall brown box with a
ticket slot on top. Once he tore your ticket, you were free to move
ahead to the concession stand.
I always sat in the balcony; the view was unmatched and its
proximity to the girls restroomwas a plus. Unlike the rest of the
theater, the bathroomwas tiny, its amenities plain, but it was
always occupied. Teenage girls primped and paraded through
the small space during every show, discussing blue jeans,
boys, broken hearts. The bathroomwindow cranked open
high above Burro Alley, inspiring all kinds of mischief. We
frequently heckled pedestrians below, ducking inside as soon
as they looked up. Other innocent passersby were rudely
showered in Coca Cola, popcorn or half-eaten hotdogs.
It was shameful, I know. Fortunately, my friends and I
outgrew our youthful shenanigans. We graduated, went
to college, many moved away. I left Santa Fe for a time
but returned for good in 1989. By then, the Lensic was
on its last legs. The last filmI saw there was Madame Bovary, in 1991.
The experience was comfortably familiar, but it was clear that the
wonder had worn out. In the midst of our modernization, Santa Fe
had taken the Lensic glamor for granted. Like most movie fans, I,
too, preferred the multiplex. The Lensic had held its sacred ground
on San Francisco Street for much of the 20th century. But as the
century neared its close, the Lensic closed its doors for good.

Or so we thought. In April, nearly 80 years after its original debut,
the Lensic will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its rebirth as
Santa Fe’s premier performing arts center. The process of bringing
the Lensic back to life began not long after its closure happened when
a group of Santa Fe visionaries set out to save the theater fromlong-
termneglect. The critical need for a large, modern and acoustically
sophisticated space to accommodate Santa Fe’s flourishing performing
arts community was a no-brainer. And despite the fact that the
community had been somewhat complacent about the Lensic’s closure,
local nostalgia for the theater ran deep.
In a perfect merging of Santa Fe’s best arts, business and philanthropic
minds, a movement to restore the Lensic to its former grandeur took
root. Descendants of the Salmon and Greer families, who still owned
the property, saw the opportunity to at once honor the vision of their
forebears and meet the modern entertainment needs of Santa Fe.
As plans for the theater’s revitalization moved forward, high hopes
were raised. Soon, so were the millions of dollars that would fund the
building’s restoration.
Of course, in fickle Santa Fe fashion, not everyone was
enthusiastic. History had seen plenty of bad downtown architectural
decisions, and at the first sight of construction, rumors began.
Some said the theater was getting more than a facelift; the historic
building was being permanently and grievously changed. Any day
now, they predicted, the theater’s whimsical rooftop dragon frieze
would fall victimto the wrecker’s ball. Inside, rumor had it, the
place was being gutted, completely New-York-ified; it would never
be the same. One guy had it on good authority that even the
Lensic name had been changed.
In 2001, as hoopla built around the Lensic’s unveiling, many
longtime Santa Feans held their collective breath. Would it
still be dedicated to the people of Santa Fe? Would it be what
we remembered, a place we’d be proud to reclaim? Would it
be a place where our children and grandchildren would be
welcomed and entertained?
As the past decade has proven, anxiety about the
project’s integrity was all for naught. The restoration
was based on photographs, renderings, and news
clippings fromthe theater’s original construction, and
included putting some elements that had previously
been covered over back where they belonged. Thus,
the dragons still reign on the rooftop, and the marquis
is a replica of an original design. Inside, the loving
restoration is colorfully clear. Fromthe crystal chandeliers
and charming murals in the lobby to the dramatic
prosceniumabove the stage, the Lensic is all pillars and
arches, diamonds and scrolls. Giant clay pots still step
up the side walls to balcony level. Surfaces that required
removing decades of popcorn grease are now bathed in
shiny reds, golds and greens. The magic of the old Lensic, its
sparkly, otherworldly beauty, is still here. So is the legendary
Lensic name.
Of course, not everything is original. While paying homage
to the Lensic’s grand past, project leaders were mindful of their
obligation to the audiences and performers of today. The stage
got deeper, the orchestra pit larger, and the acoustics were
brought into the new age. The rocking chairs are long gone,
but the seats are cozy still. Better yet, the floor no longer
sticks to the bottomof one’s feet.
I don’t remember exactly when I returned to the Lensic,
but I remember my relief in seeing that this powerful
touchstone of my youth remained within reach. Strangely,
I have yet to see a movie here, but I have seen some
of the best live music of my life: Lila Downs, Dwight
Yoakam, K.D. Lang. I have waited in the same spot as the
old concession line to buy books fromthe many stellar
authors the Lannan Foundation generously brings here
each year. I’ve watched the wonder in children’s eyes
after a Circus Luminous performance. And I’ve felt joy
as old-timers and newcomers come together to share an
evening of norteño music, a smile, a common space.
A few weeks ago, I returned to the Lensic to take
a walk down memory lane. It was nearly empty, so I
headed to the top of the stairs. I hoped to find the old
bathroomabove Burro Alley, but I found something
better. In the theater’s administrative offices, a display
of handwritten pictures and notes caught my eye. The
notes are a thank you fromthe children who attend the
Lensic’s free, year-round educational performances and
events. In one line drawing, children stand outside the
Lensic, waiting to get in. Another child is grateful for an
inspired performance of The Nutcracker. My favorite,
written in pink magic marker, says simply this: “I love the
Lensic. It has dancing in the Lensic.”
The words cut to the essence of the Lensic’s impact on
Santa Fe. Frommy parents to myself to the anonymous
child who penned the pink prose, fromthe first grand-
opening gala to today, generations have twirled and
swirled together in the Lensic’s grand dance of time.
Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer still dance through their
theater’s timeless spaces; they now kick up their heels in
celebration of the continued success of their dream. Because
of them, and more recently, many other generous individuals,
the dance will continue long after we are gone.
How many Lensic memories dance inside this picture
palace? How many moments of Lensic wonder do we hold in
our hearts? How many ways, Santa Fe, can we all say thanks?
Got memories? Share your cherished memories of the Lensic
Theater throughout 2011 by visiting www.lensicmemories.com.
24 Lensi c 10
anni versary
s tor y B y P oL L y s umma r
P hotos B y L ui s s Á nc he Z s at ur no
arah LeBlanc doesn’t coddle her interns.
Ian Way, a 2005 Santa Fe High grad who’s now an actor in New York City, recently
recalled his high school internship at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
“They got a new lightboard in, state of the art, and one day Sarah literally locked us all in the light booth and said, ‘Here,
figure out how to light a show,’ ” Way said.
Well, maybe not literally locked them in, Way admitted. But LeBlanc, production manager and internship director at the
Lensic Performing Arts Center, got her point across.
“We were all afraid of it,” Way said. “We had to sit there and read the manual and figure it out.”
school of sound
(and lights, sets and more)
Zoe Baillageon, (left), a senior at Monte Del Sol, and Jessica Lopez, a junior at the New Mexico School for the Arts, paint the set for The Nutcraker last year.
lensi c 10
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But that and other similar experiences gave Way the skills he needed to help
make his way in the performing arts. And LeBlanc, who is still in touch with 83
of the 99 high school interns she has worked with since the program began in
February 2002, doesn’t expect her interns to do anything she hasn’t done.
As a ’98 Capital High grad, LeBlanc tried New York City herself, moving
there after high school and hoping to be a Broadway dancer. “But I wasn’t
interested in being a starving artist,” she said.
Returning to Santa Fe, she learned that one of her friends was doing a post-
college internship at the Lensic. “A stage manager didn’t show up one night for
a rock show and she suggested they call me,” LeBlanc said. It was 2001, and the
renovated Lensic was just starting up.
At first, LeBlanc was just helping get talent on and off the stage. Then she
starting helping out in other ways and her job kept expanding.
“In the early years, the public schools had a program called Links, a
mentorship program where kids would link up with professionals,” LeBlanc
said. Backstage at the Lensic, those students would help with lights, sound,
rigging, set design and stage management.
When the Links program disbanded, “we decided we wanted to keep the
mentorship program going, so I said I’d do the paperwork,” LeBlanc said. By
2003, the theater had developed its own application and staffers went to various
high schools to talk to the students about working backstage at the Lensic.
Since then, the program has developed into a serious training program
that starts interns during the school year on a volunteer level as juniors and
seniors, but then progresses into paid opportunities in the summer, and finally
to college internships for pay and college credit.
The program has a wide outreach and has attracted high school interns
from Santa Fe High, Capital High, Monte del Sol Charter School, Santa Fe
Preparatory School, St. Michael’s High, Santa Fe Waldorf School, Academy
of Technology and the Classics, Desert Academy, New Mexico Academy of
Math and Science, Los Alamos High School, the Santa Fe Community College
home schooling program and now, the New Mexico School for the Arts and the
Masters Program Charter School.
The internships, which include hands-on training and classroom-style
sessions with theater professionals, run from October to May. Students come
one afternoon a week and are often called in to work at or after performances,
taking down and changing sets.
Of the 99 high school interns, 24 continued their internships into a second
and third year and received high school credit. Sixty-two were awarded the
paid summer internship.
Seven college interns have come from the University of Texas at Austin,
Oberlin College in Ohio, Bennington College in Vermont and the former
College of Santa Fe. The college interns were paid and received college credit
for their internships.
Omero Martinez, a 2010 Santa Fe High graduate, started his involvement
with the Lensic as a sophomore. “He had an internship his sophomore year,
then moved to an advanced internship his junior year,” LeBlanc said. Martinez
decided to focus on theater at his high school his senior year, but then applied
for and received a college scholarship of $2,500 from the Lensic for a student
studying theater. Martinez is a freshman at the University of New Mexico and
was one of three interns to be awarded the scholarship.
“The hardest thing to learn was sound,” Martinez recalled. “I had to spend
a lot of time learning that. If Sarah didn’t know a lot about something, she
would have the person who did it as a profession teach us. She would bring in
someone a lot more experienced to teach that lesson.”
Even the interns who later decided a career in theater was not for them
recall the lessons the program taught them. Michaela Brown, an ’04 Santa Fe
High graduate, now works in Washington, D.C., as a contractor for the State
“I’ve always appreciated theater performances, but it’s definitely given
me an understanding of what goes into a theater performance more so than
before,” Brown said. “My only job before that had been at Häagen-Dazs on the
Plaza, scooping ice cream all day. It was the first real work experience a lot of
us had ever had.”
For Way, it was a path to finding later jobs in theater to support his acting.
“It got me a job at Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois, one
summer,” he said. “I built sets the whole summer.”
Those carpentry skills were honed at the Lensic. “I’d be out there working
late at night,” Way said. “I’m covered in sawdust, a crescent wrench draped
from my arm. You’re working with union workers. It was so much fun.”
Detai ls
The 2010-2011 interns are Zoe Baillargeon, Monte del Sol Charter School; Joey
Chavez, the Masters ProgramCharter High School; Teresa Garcia, Santa Fe High
School; Dietrich Ginocchio, Santa Fe Preparatory School; Grannia Griffith,
Monte del Sol; Shantal Gurule, Zak Krasnow, Jessica Lopez and Kiera O’Brien,
New Mexico School for the Arts; and Alexandra Vargas, Capital High School.
Interns returning for a more advanced internships are Alex De Nevers, Los Alamos
High School; Carlo Fernandez, Santa Fe High; Max Grand, the Masters Program
Charter High School; and Cris Iannucci, New Mexico School for the Arts.
Ray Ortega, from Santa Fe High School, watches as Mark Hanneman, technical director at
the Lensic, (right), helps Alex Denevers, from Los Alamos High School, climb a ladder during
safety training for their internships.
Santa Fe High junior Teresa Garcia, (left), Kiera O’Brien, New Mexico School for the Arts
junior, and Grannia Griffith, a junior at Monte Del Sol, work on stage lights.
internships help set young people on a creative path
26 Lensi c 10
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B y P oL L y s umma r
nyone who works with young people knows that
helping them make a film themselves is a good
way to inspire them: the collaborate aspect of
working with their peers; the chance to learn how to work
with new technology; the thought that this might be a way
they could earn a living.
But what if they could show that film on a big screen at a real theater in
downtown Santa Fe? Now that’s a lure most fledgling filmmakers don’t get. But
it’s exactly what teens get with Future Voices of New Mexico, an innovative
collaboration sponsored by The Lensic Performing Arts Center that links
national and local groups in an effort to motivate youngsters to dream beyond
high school.
The network of support that makes up Future Voices includes a diverse
list of collaborators: National Geographic Society’s All Roads Film Project,
which works with indigenous and underrepresented voices from around the
world; IATSE 48/480, representing the film industry in New Mexico; Santa
Fe Photographic Workshops, which has added a photography side to Future
Voices; Bonanza Creek Ranch, a working movie set that allows students to
use locations for their films and photographs; and the Indigenous Language
Institute, a national nonprofit organization that provides language-related
services to empower Native communities.
And while Future Voices culminates in late spring with the All Roads
Film and Photo Project Contest, it’s much more than a contest. Each year
filmmakers and photographers go into the schools to work with teachers and
their students.
“With each school, what we do depends on their infrastructure — they’re all
at different points in terms of establishing film and photo departments,” said
Chris Roybal, 27, one of the three working filmmakers the Lensic sends into
schools. The others are program director Marcella Ernest and Jason Jaacks.
Sometimes the three filmmakers just do brainstorming sessions with the
students, but other times more involvement is needed.
“We do what we can to make sure the school has the equipment or can get the
equipment through us — we want to make sure the systems are sustainable,” said
Roybal, who was born and raised in Arroyo Seco and is a 2002 St. Michael’s High
graduate. “We didn’t have any of that when I went to school.”
Roybal became involved in the program while he was working in an
AmeriCorps program called Public Allies New Mexico. He was placed with
IATSE 48/480 and began speaking to high school students about the film
In the meantime, Darlene Anderson and Francene Blythe with National
Geographic had become very interested in the Santa Fe and Native film
festivals. One day, while Connie Schaekel, the Lensic’s community-relations
manager, was driving Anderson to Santa Fe High to show films to the students,
the idea for a collaboration was created.
Roybal said Anderson approached him while he was speaking at the group’s
kickoff event at the Lensic and asked if he would like to become involved with
the project. “Now I do the initial talks at the schools,” Roybal said.
Four years ago, when the program started, there were four high schools
involved that already had film programs: Santa Fe Indian School, Monte
del Sol Charter School and Santa Fe and Capital high schools. The second
year, Desert Academy came into the picture. In 2010, the program expanded
beyond Santa Fe and included 17 schools. Some 41 films and more than 500
photographs were submitted for the 2010 competition.
The program has now expanded to central and Northern New Mexico and
is moving toward Southern New Mexico. “The name National Geographic
helps us,” Roybal said. “Once the films get made, the competition is technically
called the National Geographic All Roads Film and Photo Project.”
All those involved say the real draw for the youngsters is the Lensic’s screen.
“What really makes it is for the kids to see their movies at the Lensic theater
and see their photographs on the big screen — it’s really powerful,” Anderson
said. “Without the Lensic, it doesn’t have the same power.”
Reid Callanan, director of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, said he
became involved in the second year of the project. “I hooked up photographers
with schools’ photo programs or yearbook or photojournalism that
needed outside help,” he said. “There’s a dual purpose. The photographers
supplemented what teachers were doing and joined in the educational process
and, in addition, they worked with teens for the photo contest.”
The 2011 theme is, “Who am I in history and who do I dream to be?” The
themes typically have to do with the culture that the students surround
themselves with, Callanan said. “We want to be visionary with these,” he said.
“I can put words to that, but how do I do it visually?”
taki ng Part
Deadline for submissions for the 2011 competition was March 23, with Future
Voices New Mexico presentation on April 26. For questions, call Connie Schaekel
at 505-988-7050, ext. 210.
planting dreams
put best
youth works
on the big
The Lensic
Santa Fe's Performing Arts Center
Thank you for a decade of brilliance!
www.santafeconcerts.org 505-984-8759
Celebrating our 75
season in 2011-2012
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