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‘Strength in numbers:’ Groups team up for 1st Native Art Week

SANTA FE, N.M. — Forty years ago, Kim Martindale began bringing up the idea of putting all of Santa Fe’s Native arts-related shows and exhibitions under a single “umbrella,” and scheduled during the same week as Indian Market.

Over the past several decades, the art show producer and collector said he’s seen other galleries or institutions put on their own events or shows to correlate with Indian Market. And while some “insiders” may have taken advantage of those events, the smaller shows haven’t always been well known among a broader audience.

This year, Martindale is getting his wish. He and several new partners, including Indian Market’s Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the Institute for American Indian Art and several galleries around town, are joining up for the first “Native Art Week.”

“There is no other moment, any place, any time, that has more about Native art than this week,” said Martindale, one of the founders of the annual Antique American Indian Art and Objects of Art shows. “And that’s an exciting thing. It becomes the Super Bowl (of Native art).”

Information on Native Art Week events, taking place through the end of Indian Market on Aug. 19, has been compiled onto a single website,

Along with Indian Market and Martindale’s shows – Objects of Art kicked off Thursday and the Antique American Indian Art show starts on Tuesday, Aug. 14 – other events on the schedule include: the Smithsonian’s Native Cinema Showcase at the New Mexico History Museum; the Wheelwright Museum’s American Indian Show and Sale; the fall exhibitions opening at the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum for Contemporary Native Art; and exhibition openings at galleries, including Shiprock, Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, Brant Mackley Gallery and Blue Rain Gallery.

The idea finally came to fruition, according to Martindale, with the support of new SWAIA director Ira Wilson. Martindale said he hopes the organized week of events lasts as long as SWAIA, “which is hopefully another 100 years.”

Thousands of people wander by the booths on Lincoln Avenue during the 96th annual Santa Fe Indian Market held last year. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Wilson said he saw partnerships among various organizations as an opportunity to build excitement around SWAIA’s Indian Market, as well as promote other opportunities for market artists during the days leading up to it.

“The people that are connected to the event (Indian Market) are very, very inspired to support Native art and Native artists, so (art week) is something that I wanted to get behind 100 percent,” Wilson said. Wilson said the first year will help show how Native Art Week impacts Indian Market.

“With anything, you have to get one lap around until you know how its going to benefit you or how you can do it better,” he said.

Most of the galleries or organizations participating in Native Art Week have been doing special events during Indian Market season for years. Martindale said the goal this year was to highlight happenings that were already been in the works, with the hope that in years to come events will expand or be created specifically for Native Art Week.

Santa Fe’s School for Advanced Research is amping up its typical offerings for Native Art Week. Meredith Davidson, the research center’s Director of Public Programs and Communications, said SAR will be offering four guided tours of its Indian Arts Research Center Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week. The tours, she said, are typically offered less frequently, but attract both tourists and scholars from other Santa Fe museums.

“Our collection has almost 12,000 Native American artwork pieces and they go back to the 6th century up to the present,” she said, describing the artifacts as laid out in open-shelf storage and organized by tribe or pueblo.

Blue Rain Gallery, one of the Native Art Week’s first partners, has been organizing specific exhibitions or demonstrations during Indian Market for the past 25 years, according to owner Leroy Garcia.

This year, the gallery is offering a group exhibition with both market and non-market artists, a solo show featuring Seattle-based glass artist Preston Singletary and glass-blowing demonstrations.

Garcia described the volume of other galleries presenting similar exhibits over Indian Market week as becoming more “intense” over the past five years. He said having everything under one “tent” puts everyone on an equal ground.

“We’re all in it together,” said Garcia. “There’s strength in numbers.”

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‘Strength in numbers’

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Indian Market, galleries, others partner to present first ‘Native Art Week’