News Column

SWAIA reaches deal to endorse Jemez Pueblo art shows

May 24, 2014

By Robert Nott, The Santa Fe New Mexican

May 24--The Southwestern Association of Indian Arts announced an agreement this week with Jemez Pueblo to support and endorse its local artists markets.

John Paul Rangel, director of public relations for SWAIA, said the deal, which aims to lend more credibility to the pueblo-based shows, helps both sides because many Jemez Pueblo artists are involved in SWAIA's annual Indian Market, New Mexico's largest cultural event, which takes place on the Santa Fe Plaza in late August. Rangel said SWAIA wants to make similar deals with "as many tribal entities as possible."

The move comes as SWAIA faces the specter of a competing market for Native American artists planned for the same weekend in August as Indian Market and organized by three of SWAIA's former staff members, including former chief operating officer John Torres Nez.

Rangel said the deal with Jemez was one of several that was in the works when he and other new SWAIA officials came on board several weeks ago. He said the action makes sense, as SWAIA only puts on one show a year, while pueblos throughout the state mount several art shows. He said having SWAIA's backing gives those groups credibility, a point echoed by Jemez Pueblo Gov. John Madalena.

Madalena said by phone Friday that the action proves SWAIA is "standing by its mission statement to provide opportunities for artists and promote Native arts, especially in rural country." He said he hopes other tribal leaders follow suit.

After three of SWAIA's top officials, including Nez, resigned from that organization in April, questions arose about the viability and finances of Indian Market. But SWAIA Board President Stockton Colt has repeatedly said the market will continue. The organization recently appointed Dallin Maybee as its new chief operating officer.

Since then, Nez and others have announced the creation of the Indigenous Fine Art Market during the same weekend as Indian Market -- Aug. 23 and 24. The newer event will take place in the Railyard.

Rangel said SWAIA officials will allow artists to participate in both events. "If the artists feel they can manage doing two shows and two booth fees, that is up to them," he said. "That creates more opportunity for them, more exposure and more income, and we support that."

Madalena, who initially worked with Nez to investigate whether the Indigenous Fine Art Market could take root at the Santa Fe Indian School, said he supports artisans who choose either market or both this year.

But he's concerned about whether the new show will draw crowds to support the artists.

"One of the things I worry about is, you put up a new art show and try to compete with something that is internationally known, will people show up at your new art show?" he said.

Rangel said SWAIA is not expecting a drop in participating artists this year. Friday was the last day for artists to pay their booth fees, though latecomers can still reserve a booth by May 30 if they pay an additional $75. He said the market usually draws about 1,100 juried artists.

"We're not worried at all," he said. "The show is going on for sure. We've been here for almost a century, and we're not going anywhere."

This is the 93rd year for Indian Market, which draws about 150,000 visitors and reportedly generates about $140 million in sales of art, gas, food and lodging.

Rangel said SWAIA will be reaching out to other pueblos that host art shows to arrange similar partnerships. Speaking by phone Friday, a man who identified himself only as a tribal official of Santa Domingo Pueblo said so far, SWAIA has not approached the pueblo. He declined to say whether the pueblo would be interested in such an arrangement.

Jemez Pueblo is hosting an arts and crafts show all three days of this holiday weekend.

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or


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Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

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