Despite a modest population of 70,000 people, Santa Fe is the third largest art market in the United States – a little piece of pop culture trivia underscored by its 250 galleries and its high profile art festivals that dominate the summer tourist season, says Monique Jacobson, New Mexico Secretary of Tourism.
“The art here is truly world class,” she notes. “It’s incredibly high quality, top notch art, and in such a wide variety from the traditional to contemporary.”
Added cachet comes from the perception that the New Mexico vibe “is about adventures steeped in culture,” Jacobson says. “The market celebrations in Santa Fe are perfect examples of that. People come here, not just to look at art, but to participate in an adventure in art.”
In addition to the festivals, Santa Fe is laden with public art along the streets, in hotels, restaurants and public buildings; the area boasts no less than a dozen world class museums, highlighting Indian arts, Spanish Colonial arts, folk arts, fine arts and the art of Georgia O’Keeffe.
Here are some art festivals to look for in summer in Santa Fe.
NATIVE TREASURES INDIAN ARTS FESTIVAL
The annual show is a fundraiser for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and artists participate by invitation of the museum. Many of the artists have pieces that are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The artists come from many tribes and pueblos and they represent a wide assortment of art forms. This year’s featured artist is Tammy Garcia, of Santa Clara Pueblo, who works in a number of media, including pottery, glass and bronze.
In addition to established artists, there is an emerging artist section to showcase new talent.
“What’s great about the festival is it’s limited to about 200 artists and 185 booths, so it’s smaller and more intimate and people can speak to the artists,” says show co-chair Karen Freeman. “It’s a refreshing change for people who don’t want to fight the crowds at Indian Market.”
TRADITIONAL SPANISH MARKET
This is the oldest and largest juried Spanish market in the country. It features nearly 260 artists working in 20 traditional art forms, including bone, relief, bultos and santos carvings, colcha, animal hides, retablos, tin, straw appliqué and more, says market director Maggie Magalnick. The work of another 60 youth artists between the ages of 7 and 17 who were mentored by a Traditional Spanish Market artist, will also be featured.
“This is about 400 years of tradition that is passed down from generation to generation through mentorship because for most of these arts there are no instruction books from which to learn,” she says.
The Traditional Spanish Market is put on by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, whose mission is to “collect, promote, preserve and exhibit traditional Spanish Colonial arts of New Mexico and beyond,” Magalnick says.
In addition to the traditional arts, the festival is a “complete cultural experience,” with music, dance, demonstrations and regional foods.
CONTEMPORARY HISPANIC MARKET
The market features nearly 135 booths highlighting the art of some of the most respected contemporary Hispanic artists working today, says Ramona Vigil-Eastwood, president of the market. “All our artists are residents of New Mexico and must be at least one quarter Hispanic. We allow the artists to expand their creativity and work in any art form they want.”
The market is essentially a juried show, with awards presented during a preview night.
The market allows casual and serious art collectors an opportunity to meet and speak with the artists working in the mediums of painting, print making, sculpture, pottery, photography, wood carving, furniture making, jewelry, metals, ceramics, textiles and more.
SANTA FE INDIAN MARKET
The 92-year-old Santa Fe Indian Market is among the largest and most prestigious Native arts markets in the world and among the largest cultural events in the Southwest. More than 1,100 Native artists will fill 600 booths with creations from indigenous people representing 130 recognized tribes in the U.S. and Canada.
Visitors will find diverse offerings of traditional and contemporary arts including basketry, painting, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, carvings, textiles and clothing. It is also a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about Indian arts and cultures.
For buyers, collectors and gallery owners Indian Market is an opportunity to buy directly from the artists.
The week leading up to the open air market is marked by events around Santa Fe, including a Native cinema showcase, a Native clothing and fashion showcase, literature readings, musical performances, and a fundraising dinner gala to benefit the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which puts on the annual Indian Market.
“Indian Market Week is thrilling,” says Tailinh Agoyo, SWAIA’s director of public relations and marketing. “Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the finest in Native art, cinema, fashion and entertainment. The energy and excitement throughout downtown Santa Fe is palpable. There are fantastic events taking place all hours of the day and night. It is truly an experience of a lifetime.”