The City Different is known as the nation’s third-largest art market in terms of sales, after New York and Los Angeles, but the “difference” here has to do with the emphasis on the market half of the equation.
Not only do most of Santa Fe’s 250-plus galleries operate as art showrooms year round, the city is home to three art markets that pile on the superlatives, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors during the summer months to shop, eat, mingle and ogle.
The art season starts as early as Memorial Day, but the biggest markets happen in July and August.
International Folk Art Market
First comes the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market (IFAM), July 13-14, which has grown into the world’s largest market of its kind in just 15 years. IFAM brings master artisans from around the world to represent their nations’ handcrafts and sell some of the best examples. This year, 162 artists from 53 countries will show and sell textiles, jewelry, beadwork, basketry, sculpture, ceramics, rugs, metal work, clothing, and home accessories.
IFAM turns Museum Hill into a giant bazaar that may obscure the even greater impact these sales have in the artists’ home countries. Often the booths represent collectives or entire folk art traditions, and the profits that artists bring home (averaging $20,000 per booth) might fund quality-of-life improvements for entire communities, such as bridges and schools. Since 2004, the market has generated $28 million from artist sales, with an impact estimated at 1.2 million lives.
Artist demonstrations, music concerts, an international food court, and activities for children take place all weekend.
July 13-15, Museum Hill, with an opening-night party on Friday. Entrance: $10-$20 per day (free for children); tickets at folkartmarket.org.
Traditional Spanish Market
The oldest and largest market of its kind, the Traditional Spanish Market on July 27-29 is the holy grail for collectors of the unique Spanish Colonial art of the region, New Mexico and southern Colorado. This year is the 67th annual market, with 250 invited artists showing wood carving, tinwork, colcha embroidery, hide painting, retablos, straw appliqué, furniture, weaving, jewelry, filigree, pottery and ironwork, all made according to strict traditional methods.
The week leading up to market features related events around Santa Fe, such as lectures, tours, food events, movies and music. During market, artist demonstrations, music and dance performances, a food court and a special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica turn the Santa Fe Plaza into a festival of local Hispanic culture.
July 27-29, Santa Fe Plaza, with a preview at El Museo Cultural (555 Camino de la Familia) on Friday evening. Free admission. Info: spanishcolonial.org/spanish-summer-market-santa-fe.
Contemporary Hispanic Market
Coinciding with Spanish Market and taking place nearby on Lincoln Avenue, Contemporary Hispanic Market appeals to fans of Hispanic art that goes beyond the traditional, to include drawing and painting, mixed media, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, fiber, ceramics and other media.
Now in its 32nd year, the contemporary market will have 134 booths, with new artists juried in each year and established artists subject to periodic review. Run by and for artists, this market allows artists to keep 100 percent of sales. The two Hispanic markets together attract an estimated 70,000 visitors.
July 28-29, Lincoln Avenue. Contemporaryhispanicmarketinc.com.
Not only is it the world’s largest, most prestigious Native arts show, but Santa Fe Indian Market, Aug. 17-19, also lays claim to being the largest cultural event in the Southwest, attracting some 150,000 visitors – nearly double the city’s population – and turning downtown Santa Fe into a 14-block art festival.
Acceptance into the market is the pinnacle of achievement for artists from the 220-plus federally recognized North American Indian tribes, rocketing them to fine-art status, especially for those who win Best of Show in their categories.
Approximately 1,100 artists show jewelry, pottery, sculpture, textiles, paintings, wood carving, beadwork, baskets and diverse arts such as drums and cradle boards at some 700 booths. Buyers come for the thrill of dealing directly with artists themselves, who often are sitting with their extended family at this celebration of Native culture that draws participants from across the continent.
Other visitors come for events like the Native fashion show, music and dance performances, Native Cinema Showcase, and Native foods. The stature of this market, and its importance to the Santa Fe tourism calendar, have turned the entire month of August into a Native-themed celebration that extends to practically every gallery and museum in town.
Aug. 17-19, Santa Fe Plaza and surrounding streets. Free admission. Tickets for Best of Show Luncheon and previews at the Convention Center on Friday, and the Live Auction and Gala at La Fonda on the Plaza on Saturday, are available at swaia.org.