Traditional Spanish Market is a fixture in Santa Fe. Every summer, on the last full weekend of July, the city’s historic Plaza becomes a sea of colorful booths displaying traditional arts that have been part of the State’s history and culture for over 400 hundred years. The event, held by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, attracts over 70,000 people each year; many of whom are collectors. The 61st Market takes place on Saturday, July 28th and Sunday, July 29th. The Market, originally founded in 1926 ran until the mis-30s. It was revived in 1965 and is still going strong.
According to their website, the purpose of the Society when it was founded was to “preserve and perpetuate Hispano art forms that have been produced in New Mexico and southern Colorado since the region was colonized by Spain in 1598.” That mission continues.
The skills and techniques of these folk art genres have been passed down through generations of families of Spanish descent. Both the annual Market and the Society’s Museum of Spanish Colonial Art support and nourish this tradition. Over 350 artisans (including the emerging artists division) will be showing and selling their work.
The traditional arts represented 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
Families keep these traditions alive by passing them on to the next generation. Because young people are such an important part of Spanish Market, there’s a separate section devoted to them, featuring over 100 emerging artists. Each year during the judging for Spanish Market, a piece of art is chosen from one of the young exhibitors to be used for the annual Winter Market’s poster. Check out these future masters and buy their wares. You may be getting a treasure as some of them may be famous one day.
Applicants to the juried show must be of one-quarter Hispanic descent and been born in either New Mexico or Southern Colorado, areas that were settled by Hispanic people a long time ago and of strong Colonial Hispanic influence.
Spanish Market offers serious collectors an opportunity to add to their collections and for others, an opportunity to buy traditional handcrafts and perhaps future heirlooms directly from the artisans. It also offers an opportunity to speak with the artists; find out about the piece you buy or learn about artistic process and their lives. The will be music and dancing, art demonstrations and regional foods will be available. There’s a full schedule of Market events on their website. In addition to the artists, the Market also has on the Plaza’s stage and food vendors.
Artists of Hispanic descent who don’t practice the traditional arts and exhibit at Contemporary Hispanic Market held the same weekend. It takes place on Lincoln Avenue north of the Plaza. This market, began in 1987, it gives contemporary artists of Spanish descent a place to showcase their works. Here, too, you can meet and talk to the artists. Mediums on view at the event include painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and pottery.
Traditional Spanish Market hours are from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and 9:30am to 5pm on Sunday; admission is free. Sunday at 8am there is a special Spanish Market Mass at St. Francis Cathedral open to all. Following that there’s a Mariachi procession to the Plaza. ContemporaryHispanic Market is from 9am to 5pm both days.
If you want to get an early start on the events, both markets offer previews on Friday, July 27th. The Traditional Market has a Membership Preview from 7pm to 9pm. Spanish Market award winners will be on view at the event. Not a member? You can join at the door or by calling (505)-982-2226. Contemporary Hispanic Market’s preview is from 5:30pm to 8pm. Both are being held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.