Culture Connects: Santa Fe

Estevan Rael-Galvez. Photo by Kerri Cottle

Estevan Rael-Galvez. Photo by Kerri Cottle

Estevan Rael-Galvez, former New Mexico state historian, is in charge of Santa Fe’s Cultural Mapping and Assessment Process. He serves as a consultant to the three-month process of developing a long term cultural framework. The process explores notions of culture, sharing ideas for the city’s future and creating a “roadmap” to see the vision for Santa Fe.

The first step in the process is to open up the topic to discussion with questions such as: What does culture mean, where can you find culture, where do you want to feel it more, what does culture look like, smell like, sound like, taste like and feel like? For this first step Rael-Galvez has teamed up with groups to start answering these questions.

One of the groups he asked to assist in the project was the spring 2016 Visual Storytelling: Photo Essay class at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The focus he gave the class was bakeries. The question he presented was how are bakeries part of Santa Fe’s culture. The group who took on the assignment was assigned three bakeries: the French Pastry Shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, and the De Valle Panderia. The group went out to capture the culture through photographs and audio and came back with a story for each bakery.

French Pastry shop at the La Fonda hotel. Photo by Christina Marshall

French Pastry shop at the La Fonda hotel. Photo by Christina Marshall

The French Pastry Shop is a small bakery in downtown, located at the La Fonda Hotel, which opened in 1972. It is a family business started by George Zadeyan, who came to Santa Fe after learning of the vacancy at the La Fonda Hotel for new businesses. It was then taken over by his two sons, Sarkis and Yanik, who share time running the bakery.  It serves traditional French food with a bit of a New Mexico twist with the option to add green chili. The culture it has is the combination of the existing French culture, the New Mexico culture of the hotel and the incoming tourism culture.



Dunkin Donuts on St Francis. Photo by Richard Sweeting

Dunkin’ Donuts on St Francis. Photo by Richard Sweeting

Dunkin’ Donuts may seem like an odd place to find culture but it has it. Dunkin’ Donuts is an iconic American donuts and fast food chain that has been in Santa Fe since 1971. Due to it being around for so long, it has become a regular stop for locals and apart of their tradition. Dunkin’ Donuts represents the consumer culture that’s growing in America, but also the everyday culture that is overlooked so easily.




IMG_9632-2The De Valle Panderia opened seven months ago and is very representative of the local Mexican culture with its traditional Mexican baked goods. The owner’s mother, Ramona Vega, told the story of how her son, Armaro Vega, opened the bakery in Santa Fe last year and how their family has worked in and owned a bakery before. The bakery is very much a family business with most of the employees being family.  Though it is the newest out of the three bakeries, it had a warm and welcoming atmosphere.



The project is expected to build a stronger community, improve the quality of life for locals and drive tourism. Rael-Galvez believes that conversations started by the project will help break down barriers and prove Santa Fe is more than a tri-cultural community.