Santa Fe’s Traditional Spanish Market 2017

This post was first published on July 15, 2019. It was updated for Spanish Market 2016 on July 13 ,2017.

Traditional Spanish Market is a fixture in Santa Fe. Every summer, on the last full weekend of July, the city’s historic Plaza area becomes a sea of colorful booths displaying traditional crafts 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 80,000 people each year, many of whom are collectors. Spanish Market 2016, the 65th consecutive market, takes place on Saturday, July 29th and Sunday, July 30th.  Over 200 artisans will be showing and selling their work at Traditional Spanish Market 20017.  Spanish Market, founded in 1926 and interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II, was restarted in 1952. It’s still going strong!

A bit about Spanish Market

Spanish Market 2016 - Carved and painted santos, photo Steve Collins

Carved and painted santos, photo/Steve Collins

According to their website, the purpose of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society is 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.” The skills and techniques of these folk art genres have been passed down through generations of families of Spanish heritage. Both the annual Spanish Markets (there’s winter markets in Albuquerque and Las Cruces) and the Society’s Museum of Spanish Colonial Art support and nourish this tradition.

What is Spanish Colonial Art?

Spanish Market 2016 - Our Lady of Guadalupe painted on hide, photo Steve Collins

Our Lady of Guadalupe painted on hide, photo/Steve Collins

There’s a long list of the traditional arts represented at the Spanish Market 2016. The settlements in New Mexico over 400 years ago were difficult to reach from Mexico City, the capital of Nueva España (New Spain). Because of Santa Fe’s remote location it was necessary for colonists to create much of what they needed for daily life. People took pride in their work so these household items were beautiful as well as functional. These arts, passed down from one generation to the next, are dying out a bit in the technological world of the 21st century. Luckily, there are some young people still interested in these upholding these traditions. Over 40 of these young artists will showcase their work in the Emerging Artists area. 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 Spanish Market’s poster. Check out these future masters and buy their wares. You may be getting a treasure; some of them may be famous one day.

Spanish Colonial Arts on view at the market include

Spanish Market 2016 - Straw applique, crosses photo Steve Collins

Straw applique, crosses photo/Steve Collins

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.

Traditional Spanish Market offers serious collectors an opportunity to add to their collections. For others it offers an opportunity to buy traditional handcrafts and perhaps future heirlooms directly from the artisans. You can meet the artisans and ask questions about their work and learn about their artistic process and their lives. In addition, there will be music, dancing, art demonstrations and regional foods. You can find a full schedule of Spanish Market 2017 events on their website.

Contemporary Hispanic Market

Shoppers at the Contemporary Spanish Market, photo Steve Collins

Shoppers at the Contemporary Spanish Market, photo/Steve Collins

Don’t miss Contemporary Hispanic Market held the same weekend on Lincoln Avenue north of the Plaza. The market, started in 1987, gives contemporary artists of Hispanic descent a place to showcase their work. Their mission is “to provide statewide Artists an opportunity to show their work and give the casual and serious collector a rare opportunity to meet and visit with some of its most respected Hispanic Artists currently producing art in New Mexico today.” Come view and buy as you meet and talk to the artists who created it. Mediums on view include painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and pottery.

Nuts and bolts of Spanish Market 2017

Spanish Market 2016 - Music on the bandstand at Spanish Market, photo Steve Collins

Music on the bandstand at Spanish Market, photo/Steve Collins

If you want to get an early start on Spanish Market 2017 events, the traditional  markets offers a Friday evening preview event held at the Museo de Cultural from 5 to 8pm. On view: award-winning art from Spanish Market 2017. This is a ticketed event. Both markets are open on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Admission is free.

Both markets allow collectors and art lovers to meet the artists and perhaps discover a relatively unknown talent. Come out and join the fun. Bring money! You never know when a beautiful object will call to you and want to be taken home.

Santa Fe has three major summer art markets. Which is your favorite?  If you’ve never been here for one (or even if you have) and want our help planning your visit, contact us at The Santa Fe Traveler.




4 Responses to “Santa Fe’s Traditional Spanish Market 2017”

  1. Sean Wells y Delgado
    July 16, 2019 at 7:40 am #

    Thank you for the wonderful and comprehensive write-up Billlie & Steve! I invite you and your readers to visit my brother, Jason Younis y Delgado and I at booth number 153 to learn more about our personal story in the Spanish Colonial Arts and more about the history and traditions of Spanish Colonial Art.

    • Billie Frank
      July 16, 2019 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks for you kind words, Sean. Good luck at Market! We’ll try to stop by.

  2. Ricky Z
    July 23, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

    I was wondering if you could she’d some light or give me direction on getting info on where to park during the Spanish market. Is there designated lots, or just find a spot along regular roads?

    • Billie Frank
      July 24, 2019 at 5:24 pm #

      There’s no dedicated parking. The city has a few garages- check the city’s website. There’s also a lot by the cathedral. Private parking rates tend to go up for events like this and the city’s might as well. We either go early in the day or late when parking is easier to find.

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