The third weekend in August brings Indian Market to Santa Fe.  This year is the 96th annual market, which began in 1922 to stimulate tourism and give talented artists a forum to display and sell their works.  With over 1,000 artists and crowds estimated at over 150,000, it is very likely that visitors will rapidly move into sensory overload.  Managed by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), the Santa Fe Indian Market has become the preeminent juried Native arts show in the world.

Not surprisingly, Indian Market has spawned a host of complementary activities leading up to and simultaneous with this two day event.  Fortunately, our friends Greg and Angie Schaaf have compiled a fairly comprehensive list on their Facebook page (   The list seems to be growing almost daily, as more and more contributors add to Greg’s list.

Some of our favorites are the Second Annual Zuni Show at the Scottish Rite Temple, featuring over 160 artists from the Zuni Pueblo, dances, authentic (and very tasty) Zuni foods and IFAM, a pop-up show that has moved from the Railyards to the Inn at Loretto this year.  A new entrant is “SEEDS,” another juried show that is taking over the Railyards space.

We were fortunate enough to attend the first Zuni Show last year, spending most of a day visiting with the artists and watching the dances.  Put on by the Keshi Foundation, this is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the Zuni culture.  The largest of the New Mexico pueblos, and spanning over 1,000 years of continuous occupancy, Zuni is unique in language, culture, and history from the other Native American cultures.  The Zuni Show is Saturday and Sunday, well worth taking a few hours or a whole day to visit.

IFAM (Indigenous Fine Art Movement) is an alternative to the Indian Market crowds.  Originally started by former SWAIA staff members, IFAM has given more voice to artists who may not fit the exacting model required by Indian Market jurors, encouraging Native Americans to explore less traditional expressions of their artistry.

This year, we are excited to visit the SEEDS exhibition, featuring over 100 top artists, dances, Native American foods, and other opportunities to explore a more relaxed and less crowded venue.  By moving into the Santa Fe Railyards space, “We Are the Seeds” is making a big statement about their desire to be a major player in featuring Native American artists and their works.  The good news about both IFAM and SEEDS is that they both run from Thursday through Saturday, overlapping with Indian Market times.

Galleries, both in Santa Fe and throughout North America, eagerly anticipate the August tourist crowds.  Many Santa Fe galleries have artist receptions and exhibitions, giving collectors an opportunity to spend a bit of time with renowned artists and learn the stories behind the art.  Lyn Fox of Lyn Fox Pueblo Pottery, is hosting Nancy Youngblood, and Al Anthony of Adobe Gallery is featuring an exquisite exhibition of significant Hopi pottery.  Internationally famous bronze sculptor Kim Obrzut will be displaying in a conference room at La Fonda Hotel, along with her booth outside.  If you have a favorite artist, there is a good chance they will be at a reception or special event in a Santa Fe gallery one night the week prior to Indian Market.

And other galleries are eager to get into the act, with the Whitehawk Antique Indian show at the Convention Center the weekend prior to Indian Market, and the Antique American Indian Art Show at El Museo in the Railyards on the Tuesday through Friday prior to Indian Market. SWAIA is also encouraging suppliers to participate, with their Traders Market at the First National Bank parking lot during Indian Market weekend.  If you love turquoise (who doesn’t, really?) then spend some time with our friend Dayton Simmons, one of the premier gemologists who specializes in turquoise.

And, lest we forget, Greg and Angie Schaff are having a book signing at Malouf on the Plaza on Thursday from 4-8 p.m.  Their American Indian Art Series is a significant set of Native American references, critical for anyone collecting or researching Native American artists and artistry.

Over the years, we have found that there is so much to do during Indian Market, and so little time in which to do it, that we have started putting together a game plan to make sure we see as much as we can and not kill ourselves.  At over 7,000 feet in altitude, Santa Fe makes it is easy to get exhausted and dehydrated, so make sure you come with plenty of water and take frequent rests.  And prepare to be amazed by the incredible artists and their artistry that makes up Santa Fe Indian Market week.  Don’t be disappointed if you can’t take it all in – the 97th annual market will be here before you know it.

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