The 96th Annual Indian Market in Santa Fe is finished, and everyone has headed back to their homes to recover. This weary condition reflects not only the two day hustle and bustle of Indian Market, but all the flurry of activities and events leading up to it. Native American artists rush to complete their last minute creations, and drive into Santa Fe exhausted before they even begin. For visitors, the week prior to Santa Fe is packed with events, many of which we sampled on this last trip.
We arrived in Santa Fe over a week prior to the actual Indian Market weekend, and promptly visited some of our local friends, like as John and Everett at the Santa Fe Antique Mall. It is always fun to wander through their store, looking for new (to us) treasures and finds. We also headed over to the Santa Fe Flea Market, where one can find all sorts of arts and crafts, ranging from traditional Native American to imports from India, China, and other countries. The original Santa Fe Flea Market has moved to a downtown location near the Railyards, making it easily accessible and an enjoyable wander on a cool, pleasant weekend afternoon.
We also attended to business during our trip. The Antique Dealers and Traders Association (ATADA) is an established, reputable organization of dealers who trade in Native American antiques, and is a voice for museums, gallery owners, and private collectors in Washington D.C. and other legislative venues that are working to return certain Native American antiquities to their original Native American owners. Needless to say, this is a very hot topic – particularly among those who legally acquired items decades ago, and are possibly now being required to return some items.
During the week prior to Indian Market, there are many complementary events, such as Whitehawk and the Antique American Indian Arts (AAIA) shows, with dealers from around the country setting up booths to display and sell their wares. We went through both shows, and had a chance to visit with some of our friends like Deb and Alston Neal of Territorial Indian Arts, who have a wonderful gallery in Scottsdale, and Linda and Mark Winter of Toadlena Trading Post, the go-to place for Navajo rugs, including my favorite style, Two Grey Hills.
Along the way, we bumped into other old friends and made some new ones, stopping and visiting and trading stories. It is a great way to learn more about different aspects of the Native American culture and art world. Even with a lifetime of immersion, I find there is always a lot more to learn, such as the amazing insight given to me by Jason Ebelacker about water pots. It turns out the little bulge on the shoulder of the pot is to keep water from sloshing while being carried, not just an artistic effect.
Every hotel, it seemed, had a showcase of exhibitors – sometimes only Native American artists, sometimes vendors and wholesalers, and sometimes a mélange of sensory overload. Canyon Road galleries also add to the celebration, hosting exhibitions or artist receptions during the week. Of course, we stopped in and visited with our friend Al Anthony of Adobe Gallery and saw his stunning exhibition of Hopi-Tewa pottery. We also visited with Robert Nichols and Mert Kenyon of Robert Nichols Gallery during one of their artist receptions for Diego and Cara Romero, and went to Lyn Fox’s Fine Pueblo Pottery for two receptions, one with Maxine and Dominique Toya and one with Nancy and Chris Youngblood. We view the gallery owners and artists as our good friends, and it is always fun to celebrate with them and see what new, beautiful pieces they have created and displayed.
There was a new Native American show prior to Indian Market, We Are The Seeds. This show started up to give an outlet to either artists who didn’t show at Indian Market or artists who wanted to push their artistic boundaries beyond what Indian Market jurors would accept. It was held in the Railyards district for a couple of days, and just whetted my appetite for upcoming exhibitions.
The Indigenous Fine Art Movement (IFAM) returned to Santa Fe, with Native American artists exhibiting in the Inn at Loretto, a smaller but more climate controlled venue than their prior years’ setup at the Railyard. Launched in 2013, IFAM was founded by SWAIA officers who decided to take another direction from the much larger and older Indian Market. Needless to say, there is a bit of competitive angst between these organizations, as artists often have to choose which event to attend or exhibit, particularly as their dates overlap a bit.
Finally, Indian Market weekend arrived. But I think I will save that for the next story.