Above: Artists share their cultures during the International Folk Art Market. Photograph Courtesy International Folk Art Market.
INTERNATIONAL FOLK ART MARKET
Justify your next shopping binge this way: You’re supporting artists in developing communities and preserving traditional crafts, from here in New Mexico and all around the world. The International Folk Art Market opens with the full setup and sale July 13–15 on Museum Hill, but you’ll be able to meet artists and learn more about their skills all week.
The 162 artists from 53 countries range from Mexico’s Carla Fernández, whose silver-appliqué clothing was worn by a Coco producer at this year’s Academy Awards, to India’s Meeta Mastani, who’s introducing irreverent—and affordable—block-printed T-shirts bearing peace signs, flip-flops, and yin-yang symbols. In between are Zulu telephone-wire plates, Guatemalan rugs, Nepalese scarves, and enough indigo-dyed fabric to turn your brown eyes blue.
One Artist Not to Miss: Porfirio Gutiérrez
Using natural and sustainable materials, Porfirio Gutiérrez blends wildly inventive and traditional Zapotec designs in weavings snapped up by museums and private collectors. Even his family’s dyes are in the Harvard Art Museum—examples, he says, of their role in global trade.
Artists keep 90 percent of their sales, a rarity in the art world, and many use the proceeds to support schools and medical clinics back home. Those impacts attracted this year’s co-chair, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered microloans to create economic opportunities. He’ll lead the July 12 procession of artists into the Santa Fe Plaza, a colorful event that this year gets an additional spike of creativity from Meow Wolf’s crafty designers.
In just 15 years, the market has grown from a regional favorite with 61 artists to an international don’t-miss. (Keep an eye out for fashion designer Donna Karan, who’s been helping Haitians restore their creative economy.) Children under 16 get in for free and can pick up a “passport” that artists will stamp with their country’s flag. Keith Recker, a market board member, says the biggest reason to go is that, afterwards, the artists take what’s left of their products to a wholesale market in Dallas. “Santa Fe gets the first and the best of everything,” he says (505-992-7600, folkartmarket.org).
Two weeks later, Traditional Spanish Market (505-982-2226, spanishcolonial.org) and Contemporary Hispanic Market (505-331-5162, contemporaryhispanicmarketinc.com) take over the Plaza, July 28–29. And we do mean take over. Some 250 traditional artists fill every available space on the Plaza, while more than 130 contemporary artists close off Lincoln Avenue with their booths. The visual delights include master artists such as weaver Irvin Trujillo and santeros Charles Carrillo and Nicolás Otero, along with makers of punched tin, straw inlay, silver jewelry, furniture, hide paintings, and way-out-there re-interpretations of familiar icons. (See some of the best contemporary work through November 25 in GenNext: Future So Bright, at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, which co-sponsors the traditional market along with the Spanish Colonial Arts Society.)
One Artist Not to Miss: Carlos J. Otero
Winner of this year’s master's award for lifetime achievement, Traditional Spanish Market santero Carlos J. Otero makes his varnish from piñon sap and his gesso from gypsum and rabbit-hide glue, then carves and paints each piece. A lifelong teacher, poet, and composer, he loves to talk about the meanings behind the saints and their importance to his culture.
A true sense of the classic Renaissance fair comes through all week during ¡Viva la Cultura!, a series of events by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society that includes traditional costumes, live performances, lectures, book signings, and food vendors. Our best tip: Splurge on tickets for the Friday evening preview, where you can chat up the creators of all the award-winning pieces.
Meet some of the makers of the International Folk Art Market at folkartmarket.org.