We want all who walk through our doors to share in the Artisan Experience. We sell supplies to fuel creativity, share our knowledge of how to use them and give exceptional service to make everyone feel special. We strive to have fun in our jobs and create such an environment for our customers. We treat ourselves, employees, suppliers and customers with respect, and with the goal of enriching everyone’s life who has shared in the Artisan Experience.
1975: Bill Banta and Jack Young moved to Santa Fe from Houston, TX and opened their first store on historic Canyon Road.
1980: Artisan quarter-owner, Ernie Cavasos of Espanola was hired as only the 4th staff member at the time.
1984: Artisan quarter-owner, Dennis Miller was hired by his McCurdy high-school buddie, Ernie.
1985: Artisan quarter-owner, Paul Bell was hired by fellow McCurdians Ernie and Dennis.
1988: Artisan quarter-owner, Ron Whitmore was hired following his move here from Phoenix, AZ and answering a classified ad.
1989: Ernie moved to Albuquerque and opened Artisan’s second store now located near UNM.
1992: Dennis left Artisan to work 11 years for another art supply business in Denver and Colorado Springs.
1994: Artisan co-founder Bill Banta died suddenly. His partner, Jack Young sold 49% of the business to Ernie Cavasos, Paul Bell, and Ron Whitmore.
1995: Paul moved to Taos to open Artisan’s third store.
1998: Paul moved back to Santa Fe to open Artisan’s 4th store (and the 2nd Santa Fe store) on St. Michael’s Drive.
2000: The first Biennial Artists’ Material Expo was successfully held at Sweeney Center in Santa Fe under the direction of Ron.
2001: The Santa Fe, St. Michael’s store was moved to 2601 Cerrillos Road. Co-founders Jack Young and Bill Banta (posthumously) were inducted into the National Art Materials Association Hall of Fame.
2002: Ron was elected to the National Art Materials Association executive board.
2003: Dennis was asked to return and given the opportunity to buy an equal share of Artisan. Jack Young passed away and the four (Ernie, Dennis, Paul, and Ron), mentored by Jack and Bill, took over the management of the company.
2005: The original store on Canyon Road was closed and an offsite facility was purchased to handle the receiving of shipments and custom canvas stretching.
2015: Artisan Santa Fe celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary with giveaways, prizes and a parking lot party!!
2015: Ron was proud to accept the “2016 Community Advocacy for Art Education Award” for Artisan’s contribution to New Mexico Schools, from the New Mexico Art Education Association. The award was for Artisan’s support for artists of all levels, such as their Art Educators Appreciation night, the annual Budding Artist program and Artisan’s involvement in donation of supplies and awards to New Mexico schools.
Paul speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently along with some (minimal) American Sign Language. His artistic interest is woodworking, such as, furniture building, designing and building gates and doors and a little wood sculpting. An avid sports fan, he played football at Eastern New Mexico University and has run several marathons yeah, I repeat, Never judge a book by its cover. Paul was born in Brazil in 1959, where his parents were missionaries, speaking only Portuguese the first 11 years of his life before returning to the U.S. The Bell family settled in Española, New Mexico in 1970 where Paul attended McCurdy Mission School and he’s been a northern New Mexican ever since–including a short stint in Taos, New Mexico.
His Artisan story began in August 1985, when Paul was hired as a sales clerk by a couple of Espanola school friends who, for a few years, were also on the same construction crew with him: current Artisan partners Ernie and Dennis. He quickly became the Operations Manager operating the vacuum cleaner every morning before the store opened! As Artisan grew opportunities presented themselves. In 1994, co-founder Bill Banta passed away and Paul started buying in as one of the Artisan owners. He moved to Taos to open the 3rd Artisan location in 1995 (Albuquerque having been the second location). Unknown to many, the land of Taos is very fertile. While living in Taos for three years, he and his lovely wife, Diane, became the lucky parents of two beautiful daughters, Eliana now eight and RayLee, ten years old. Paul also has a son, Mike, who currently manages the Albuquerque Artisan store. In 1998, Paul and family returned to Santa Fe to open the 4th Artisan location on St. Michael’s Drive (which later moved to its current location on Cerrillos Road). In preparation of expanding the Cerrillos store’s retail space into its storage area, an offsite warehouse location was purchased where Paul currently oversees the inventory and custom canvas stretching.
Paul feels fortunate to have met and gotten to know so many great Santa Fe and Taos artists, many of which, beyond being customers, have become friends.
One of Ernie’s life-long challenges is helping people spell his last name correctly. That’s C-A-V-A-S-O-S!
Born in southern New Mexico, Ernie lived in several different New Mexican communities during early childhood (his father worked in the construction trades and later a licensed General Contractor) before finally settling in the Española Valley in late ’64. He entered the 5th grade at McCurdy Mission School (with grades 1-12) where two of his current Artisan partners Paul and Dennis both attended (though Paul was 4 grades younger). Until graduation in 1973, Ernie and Dennis took classes together (including art), played high school sports, and shared a lot of the same interests including their choices in girlfriends. When college time rolled around, they both attended the University of Indianapolis and majored in Art but Ernie decided the Midwest wasn’t for him. After attending Regis University in Denver he returned to New Mexico to again work with his father driving the big rigs and operating heavy equipment. Ernie’s interests run the full spectrum, as broad as they are varied, including but not limited to a passion for the Arts, fine machinery, and good people, many of whom are Artisan patrons and employees.
Then one fateful weekend in 1980, Ernie was shopping in his favorite art supply store on Canyon Road in Santa Fe to pick up a few things to satisfy his artistic habit. The owners of this quaint shop, Bill Banta and Jack Young, needed more help and offered him a job. He had just recently stopped working with his father, and taken a job building houses with Dennis and Paul. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to travel a different road in life. He soon became store manager and in 1984 he recruited Dennis, in ’85 he signed on Paul, and in ’88 hired Ron (the fourth Artisan partner and author of Ron’s Palette.) In 1984 Ernie had moved to Albuquerque (where his son Carl was born in ’85) and was commuting to Santa Fe. Artisan decided to open an Albuquerque location in 1989 and Ernie has been there ever since. Artisan co-founder, Bill Banta, died suddenly in 1994 and Ernie started buying in as one of the Artisan owners. Once the Artisan Corporate documents were drawn up, Ernie had to triple-check the spelling on every page because more than likely Cavasos was not spelled C-A-V-A-S-O-S. It wasn’t.
Muggy summer air rustles through the tall corn surrounding the white country church. Inside, a small boy is slumped down in the pew next to his mom. He is constantly fidgeting and wiggling around in the uncomfortable Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes he outgrew six months before. The stained-glass windows obscure the real world from him. He’s tired of seeing how fast he can flip the pages of the hymnal and the gum stuck under his seat is too hard to pick off. His mom grips his leg attempting to regain control. She sets her purse between them and quietly opens it. The mind-wandering boy can now focus on a new adventure – a treasure chest filled with exciting trinkets and exotic fortunes. He can plunder these riches as long as he remains quiet and still. He spots a pen and small notepad. Now he can release on paper the billions of things going on in his brain. This adventure seemingly lasts for quite a while until he hears his name spoken loudly. From behind the simple wooden pulpit, Rev. Miller is telling a Dennis Story in his sermon to get a point across to the congregation. Perhaps he has noticed his wife struggling to contain the youngest of their three children and knew he would get Dennis’ attention by using his name. Whatever the actual reason, it works and Dennis is now paying attention to the sermon for a while.
Dennis Miller was born in the fun year of 1955. It was the same year that several great American pop culture icons came into being, like Jim Henson’s first Muppet and McDonalds’ first location. But in Dennis’ opinion, the most important event that year (besides his own arrival) was Disneyland opening. Since Dennis’ birth the Miller family lived in five different Indiana farming communities and spent three years in tiny Vallecitos, New Mexico, until settling down in Española in the summer of 1969. Dennis’ dad was now a schoolteacher and coach at the McCurdy Mission School (grades 1-12) and his mom worked up the hill in Los Alamos.
This is the part where three of the four Artisan partners hook up. Dennis started at McCurdy as a high school freshman, the same class as Artisan partner Ernie. Artisan partner Paul had three older brothers with whom Dennis and Ernie went to school. Ernie and Dennis took classes together (including art), played high school sports, and shared a lot of the same interests. When college time rolled around in 1973, they both attended the University of Indianapolis majoring in art. In those art classes, Dennis (and Ernie until he decided the Midwest wasn’t for him) became good friends with Cat. Cat would help Dennis get dates for the weekend until she figured out she was the best date he could get. After graduating with a business education degree and marrying in ’77, he packed up the pickup and drug Cat to Española where they had two sons, Joshua, now 26 living in Denver, CO, and Caleb, now 23 living in Burbank, CA. (Dennis would rather write about the lives of his greatest two achievements but space is limited.) Dennis worked construction to support the young family. He got both Paul and Ernie jobs working for the same outfit, building custom adobe homes in the Santa Fe area.
Now comes the Artisan part of the story. Ernie started working for Artisan in 1980 and occasionally tried to persuade Dennis into working there with him. There wasn’t enough construction work to keep Dennis and Paul busy through the winter of ’84 so fidgeting Dennis called his old pal Ern to see if there was still a job opening at Artisan. There was and Ernie also brought in Paul the following summer. In ’88, the outsider came bubbling into Artisan from Phoenix, AZ, answering the help-wanted ad. It took a while for Dennis to let Ron eat lunch with him at the patio table in front of the store. Eventually, however, they even hung out together during lunches at the park up Canyon Road.
Here is where Dennis’ Artisan story takes a different road than his partners. In 1992, the restless one took an offer from Henry, the owner of Meininger art supply shops in Colorado, to open a store in Colorado Springs. He eventually oversaw the entire Meininger operation under the guidelines of Henry. Cat and Dennis happily packed up their young family and spent 11 wonderful years in Colorado but that fidgeting, wiggling, restless little boy started looking for something through the stained glass again. Artisan co-founder, Bill Banta, died suddenly in 1994 and Dennis’ former co-workers bought his share of the business. Artisan co-founder Jack Young’s health was failing. Dennis’ old pals convinced themselves that Dennis would somehow fill the void left when Jack eventually passed away in 2003. He drug Cat back to New Mexico where Dennis became a quarter-owner of Artisan, handling the financial side of the business and hiding behind his desk to refrain from staring at those stained glass windows searching for yet another inviting adventure.
I, Ron Whitmore, am the last of the four partners to give you my life history.
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where my passions for pythons and pianos began. When I was about 8 years old I started taking piano lessons so I would know how to use the grand piano that had been sitting in the living room since I could remember. The rest of my youth was spent wrestling, motorcycle racing, and catching lizards and snakes. My dad was cool enough to make half my room a snake cage and my mom was cool enough to allow pythons, alligators, Gila Monsters, bats, tortoises and hundreds of reptiles and rodents to share my room. After surviving being bit by the rattlesnake I used to scare some girls while out motorcycling (three of my passions all rolled into one), I moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. While studying pre-veterinary medicine I played piano in a little piano bar (the bar was little – not the piano). After graduating I worked for Marriott for a while and then a friend and I opened a small restaurant called the Paradise Cafe. We eventually sold the restaurant and I moved to Santa Fe. My mom had previously moved to Santa Fe and following a few visits I wondered why I lived in Phoenix when Santa Fe is so much more desirable. Upon my arrival I saw an ad in the paper stating, Wanted: young person to learn the art supply business. It sounded like fun. My eventual business partner Ernie hired me and eighteen years later I am still having fun at Artisan.
My passions now are my wife Karen, stepdaughters Jessica and Kristina, and children Brittany and Brandon. Ok, so I’m still passionate about some of the same things I was as a kid. I have 3 dogs, 3 donkeys, 5 snakes (2 of those are pythons), 1 opossum, 3 motorcycles and play keyboards in a band called High Altitude. Check out our music at www.highaltitudeband.com. We play at local bars, casinos, weddings, and parties on a regular basis.
One of the many lessons I have learned so far is that life is a journey not a destination. Friends and mentors who have helped me along the way both personally and professionally bless my journey. I am lucky enough to have three great partners at Artisan who make the journey fun and exciting and we four partners have great employees that make us all look better than we really are.
This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.