Santa Fe Art: discover 3 world-class summer artisan markets

Santa Fe art and the city’s artist markets attract tens of thousands of visitors every year. Three of the most anticipated art events in Santa Fe each summer are the International Folk Art Market, Spanish Market and Santa Fe Indian Market. These three unique, juried events bring together some of the best artists and artisans working in these genres to The City Different each year. The markets attract people from all around the country and the world. Attendees include serious collectors and buyers for commercial enterprises. They come to Santa Fe to get first shot at the best of the best and to discover new artists. These are festive events and even if you’re not in the market for anything, it’s fun to walk around, look at the wares, enjoy the entertainment and sample the interesting food.

Folk Art Market

The International Folk Art Market brings folk artists from around the world, photo/Steve Collins

The first International Folk Art Market, was held in 2004. It has grown in scope and attendance each year since. Folk artists from around the world come to Santa Fe for this important event. The 2011 market is on a  Saturday and Sunday in early to mid-July, it varies by year. If you want a chance to shop before the official opening, there’s a benefit event Friday evening or take advantage of early-bird shopping Saturday morning from 7 to 9am. Tickets to Friday evening’s party, that the promoters are calling a “global gathering under the stars,” are $125 each. You can meet and mingle with the Artisans (many in native dress), shop for treasures, dance to live international music, munch on finger food and sip on drinks while enjoying the spectacular sunset views. If you want to avoid the crowds on Saturday buy an early bird ticket for $50 and shop from 7:30 to 9am, before the gates open to the public. Regular market hours on Saturday and Sunday are from 9am to 5pm. Admission on Saturday is $15 in advance and $20 at the gate, Sunday admission is $5 in advance and $10 at the gate. Children under 16 enter for free both days. Lines can be long; buying a ticket before the day can save you time and money.

There is no public parking at the site. Shuttles will run during Market hours from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. The buses can be boarded at two locations: the PERA Building at the intersection of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta and the South Capital Railrunner Station at Alta Vista Road, a block west of St. Francis Drive. Both spots offer ample free parking.  People coming from Albuquerque on the Rail Runner can board shuttles at the train station. If you drive to the station, park in any of the lots in the State office building complex there and board the shuttle buses at the train station.  Buses run continually from both locations. The system works really well; buses are air-conditioned and fully ADA compliant with wheelchair lifts.

Advanced tickets for the International Folk Art Market are available locally at the all Museum of New Mexico locations in Santa Fe, all branches of Los Alamos National Bank and at La Tiendita at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Tickets may also be purchased via phone (505- 984-0799 or 888- 670-3655) or on the market’s website.

Spanish Market

Santa Fe's annual Spanish Market, photo Steve Collins

Bultos at Santa Fe’s Spanish Market, photo/Steve Collins

The first Spanish Market was held in Santa Fe 1926, but they were not an annual event until 1965. The market takes place on the last weekend in July on and around the historic Santa Fe Plaza. The artistic traditions that came to New Mexico with early Hispanic settlers and have been passed down through generations are showcased here. Young people are an important part of Spanish Market. There is a separate section devoted to them, featuring over 100 emerging artists.

The traditional arts showcased at the market are:
Santos: depictions of devotional figures in the form of bultos (carvings in the round) retablos (paintings on wooden panels), and gesso and wood relief-carved panels
Straw Appliqué: crosses, chests and boxes decorated with hand-cut straw
Textiles: hand-woven on looms using handspun yarns
Furniture: usually made of pine using mortise and tenon joints
Hide Paintings: devotional images painted on deer or elk hide
Colcha: unique regional embroideries employing the colcha stitch
Tinwork: decorative and utilitarian objects of cut and punched tin
Ironwork: tools, fastenings and household objects forged from iron
Precious Metals: silver and gold jewelry, utilitarian and devotional objects
Pottery: hand-sculpted bowls, pots and other ware made from micaceous clay
Bonework: decorative items, anillos (rings) and tool handles carved from animal antlers and bone
Ramilletes: decorative paper garlands

The 2011 market introduces a new category, Innovations Within Tradition, which will bring contemporary interpretations of the traditional arts that have been passed down for hundreds of years.

Contemporary Spanish Market

Funriture at Contemporary Hispanic Marketheld the same weekend as Traditional Spanish Market, photo/Steve Collins

Contemporary Hispanic Market, also held that weekend, gives New Mexican artists of Spanish descent working in mediums outside the scope of Spanish colonial art a place to showcase their works. It takes place on Lincoln Avenue north of the Plaza. The first contemporary market was held in 1988. Collectors and art lovers can meet the artists and perhaps discover a relatively unknown talent. On sale at the event: painting, sculpture, jewelry, pottery and more.

Traditional Spanish is from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and 9:30am to 4pm on Sunday. Contemporary Hispanic Market is from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sunday. There’s is no admission charge. If you want to get an early start on the events, both offer Friday previews at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Marcy Street.

Santa Fe Indian Market

Wanisia Spry Misquadace’s  birchbark biting and silversmith piece won a blue ribbon at the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market, photo/Steve Collins

Santa Fe bursts at the seams the third weekend in August each year for the annual Santa Fe Indian Market. SWAIA (Southwest Association for Indian Arts) presents this huge event. The market takes place in the historic Santa Fe Plaza  usually on the 3rd weekend in August, but there’s a formula to work the dates out. Saturday hours are from7am to 5pm and Sunday from 8am to 5pm. This juried market features the best Native American artists and artisans in the United States. Both traditional and contemporary styles and media are represented. The event is open to North American artists with tribal affiliations.

Indian Market began in 1922 as the Southwest Indian Fair run by the Museum of New Mexico. It has evolved over 90 years into what is today the largest, most prestigious show of its kind in the world. Over 1,140 Native artists and artisans exhibit their wares in 674 booths. Another 50 plus booths will house food, book sales, non-profit organizations and more.

Serious collectors, museums, gallery and shop owners and the curious attend the Friday evening preview. It’s an opportunity to scope out the artists and their wares and formulate a strategy for the next day’s shopping. Because the competition is fierce and supply is limited, people line up at the booths hours before they open, some camp out in front of a booth all night to get first shot at the works of a particular artist. Nothing may be sold before the 7am opening time. Legend has it that some well-heeled folks pay people to stand vigil for them and show up in time to buy.

For hotels and restaurants, this is the busiest weekend of the year; reserve early. Popular restaurants can book up a few months prior to the weekend. Even if you didn’t make your reservations in advance, there are a lot of great restaurants in this town and there will be somewhere for you to eat.

If you are looking for a great summer getaway and love handcrafted works of art, visit Santa Fe during one of these special markets and take home some treasures. And, take heart, if you can’t make it here for the markets, there are shops that specialize in these fields and offer carefully selected examples of these genres for your year-round shopping pleasure.

For information on Santa Fe dining during your visit check our Santa Fe restaurant and dining posts.



7 Responses to “Santa Fe Art: discover 3 world-class summer artisan markets”

  1. Traveling Ted
    June 15, 2019 at 6:13 am #

    The Indian Arts Market sounds especially intriguing, but all the events combine show what a great arts destination Santa Fe is.

    • Billie Frank
      June 15, 2019 at 7:00 am #

      Santa Fe has so much more to offer in the way of art. There are great museums, over 200 galleries, art treasures to be discovered around town and more art events throughout the year.

  2. Charles Higgins
    June 15, 2019 at 8:57 pm #

    Plenty to see and do in Santa Fe over the next few weeks..artists have some venues to market their wares..


    • Billie Frank
      June 15, 2019 at 9:36 pm #

      Did you get to Spanish or Indian Markets when you lived in NM? I think Folk Art is after your time.

  3. TravelDesigned
    June 17, 2019 at 4:49 am #

    We are HUGE fans of folk art. I cant believe how active the art scene is in Santa Fe. We will certainly have to plan a trip around the art festivals.

    • Billie Frank
      June 17, 2019 at 7:09 am #

      You would love this. They have wonderful Mexican artists represented here. You’d also love the Gerard Gallery at the International Folk Art Museum and admission to the museum is included in the ticket price.


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