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Four cultural art markets showcase Southwest’s treasures

Guests admire the large retablos exhibit at last year's Spanish Market in Santa Fe. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Guests admire the large retablos exhibit at last year’s Spanish Market in Santa Fe. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Four of the Southwest’s best-known and most beloved markets displaying artwork from near and far will be in Santa Fe between May and September, showcasing the art of Native American and Hispanic artisans.

The Native Treasures Market and Indian Market, which book-end the four, feature Native American art, while the Contemporary Hispanic Market and the Spanish Market allow Hispanic artists to display their talents.

Native Treasures Market

First up is the Native Treasures Market, which celebrates its 10th anniversary and will take place during Memorial Day weekend – May 24-25 at the Santa Fe Convention Center. Unlike the other markets, this one has a price tag attached: general admission is $10 on Saturday, but Sunday it’s a bargain: no cost.


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It bills itself as Santa Fe’s “only museum-quality Indian art show and sale.”

Two hundred Native American artists are expected to show up – people especially invited by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Some of the artists who participate also have artwork on display in the museum’s permanent collection – some of them established artists, others emerging talent.

For information, go to

Fifteen Native female artists from around the country collaborated to create a concho belt to be auctioned off at the Indian Market gala. Artist Liz Wallace's contribution depicts acorns and a basket. (Courtesy of Liz Wallace)

Fifteen Native female artists from around the country collaborated to create a concho belt to be auctioned off at the Indian Market gala. Artist Liz Wallace’s contribution depicts acorns and a basket. (Courtesy of Liz Wallace)

Spanish Market

The Spanish Market will be in the heart of the cultural center of Santa Fe on the Plaza. It includes a week’s worth of events and activities at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and will culminate with the actual market on July 26 and 27.

The week kicks off July 22 with events including music, food and art on the plaza, as well as performers like Nacha Mendez, dancing, and a screening of short films made by New Mexico filmmakers.

The market will host about 250 artists, both youth and adults, whose work will fall into 20 categories, including weaving, bolto and nicho.


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For information, go to

Contemporary Hispanic Market

The Contemporary Hispanic Market will take place the same weekend, July 26-27. “Contemporary Hispanic Market is a nonprofit organization that has proudly showcased and promoted contemporary Hispanic art for 28 years,” according to Ramona Vigil-Eastwood, president. The market will be adjacent to the Plaza on Lincoln Avenue. There will also be a special preview night, which is free, where awards winners are showcased on July 25 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. There will be 134 booths, with many works of art by New Mexico Hispanic artists. Preceding the weekend market, art award winners will be showcased. The mission of this market is to provide artists an opportunity to show their work and have face-to-face encounters with those interested in their work.

Organizers expect to see art in media including painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, furniture making, jewelry, ceramics and weaving.

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Indian Market

Last but definitely not least is the Indian Market, which is organized by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA). Events begin Aug. 18 with a fundraising gala and other events at different spots around Santa Fe. The market itself is Aug. 23-24, on the Plaza in Santa Fe.

The Indian Market covers 14 downtown city blocks with more than 600 artist booths, and more than 1,100 artists from the U.S. and Canada will be at the 92-year-old event.

That’s what gives this market the right to tout itself as “the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world.” It is also the largest cultural event in the Southwest, always held in the third week of August.

It’s such a draw that this event sometimes features “booth sitters”: people who wait outside an artist’s booth starting the night before, or hours before the market opens, in hopes of buying the work of a particularly admired artist.

This event will also feature a live auction dinner and gala Saturday, Aug. 23, from 5-9 p.m. at La Fonda on the Plaza, with general seating priced at $175.

One of the items to be auctioned off is a concho belt made by 15 Native American women who are jewelry artists from different tribes around the country. They communicated by Facebook about the design and creation of the belt’s components, and mailed in the pieces to be assembled here in New Mexico.

Liz Wallace, who lives in Santa Fe and makes jewelry using silver and turquoise, is one of the artists. “We just started talking about doing projects, and a few months later, everyone voted to do two collaborative belts,” says Wallace, 38, who is also a film student at Santa Fe Community College and descends from the Navajo Nation and the Maidu and Washo bands of Nevada.

Another concho belt will be made by a group of male artists.

For the belt made by women, “everyone worked on their unit independently,” she says.

Seven artists, including Wallace, made conchos, seven made butterflies, which are the spacers between each concho, and one worked on the belt base.

Each piece will add up to a whole. “The theme is ‘inspirational women,'” says Wallace. “I knew ‘inspirational women’ would be something that we could all explore, but I was really touched by what each person picked (to focus on).”

One concho she was particularly touched by depicts a baby in a cradle board, which are still used traditionally by Navajos to carry babies, whose mothers say a prayer and sing a song as they tie the baby onto the board.

Her own concho has a basket and acorns and was done in honor of her great-great-grandmother.

She says the belt can be used as a wall decoration, or as an actual belt, if whoever comes up with the winning bid doesn’t mind its heft.

“Everyone used a lot of silver and stone,” she says. “It’s pretty heavy, but someone could still wear it. Not daily, but someone could wear it.”

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