News Column

SWAIA reports improved finances, restores workweek

June 22, 2014

By Anne Constable, The Santa Fe New Mexican

June 22--The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts says that it is over the financial hump that caused a cut in the workweek earlier this year and contributed to an exodus of several key employees months before Indian Market, the biggest single event in the city's cultural year.

The staff of seven full-time employees is back at work five days a week, marketing director John Paul Rangel said in an interview last week.

A short-term financial crisis is not uncommon for the nonprofit, which presents the Santa Fe Indian Market every August on the downtown Plaza. The coffers begin filling again as artists begin sending in their booth fees for the next market.

There will be about 700 booths and approximately 1,100 artists at the 93rd Indian Market on Aug. 23 and 24. Another 100 artists are on a waiting list, standing by to take over an unclaimed booth at 7 a.m. Saturday morning of market or to move in after another artist has sold out.

Booth fees are $650 for a 10-foot by 10-foot booth on the Plaza for two days, and $400 for a booth that is 5 feet by 10 feet. (The cost, Rangel said, is well below what is charged at other major shows.)

Rangel said high-quality donations are pouring in for the fundraising gala held the Saturday night of market weekend. The event, which raises $250,000 to $300,000, helps pay the bills and carry SWAIA through the dry winter and early spring. Among the donations are a modern silver necklace by Maria Samora of Taos and a gold ranger set by Jesse Monogyn valued at more than $70,000.

"It's pretty clear there's been an outpouring of support from artists," Rangel said. "They want to protect the thing that's helped them be a success."

The market is also trying to strengthen alliances in the business community that had been neglected in recent years. Rangel said that SWAIA is working with Randy Randall from the city's convention and visitors bureau to partner with hotels. In the works this year is an event at the Hilton Hotel.

Staff are also working to improve or revive relations with area galleries and other shops.

"We are going out and finding out what it takes to mend those relationships or create new ones," Rangel said, adding, "Our goal is to be a good neighbor."

Blue Rain Gallery on Lincoln Avenue, for example, has made a $5,000 donation and is also underwriting a $2,500 artistic award.

Blue Rain's art associate, Vanessa Elmore, credits Dallin Maybee, an attorney and Native artist who was serving on the SWAIA board when he was tapped as interim chief operating officer last month.

"He responded to the call that you do have to go knocking on doors. You do have to maintain relationship with galleries that support Native American artists year-round," Elmore said.

Gallery owner Leroy Garcia, she said, "wanted to make a public showing to combat some of the negativity SWAIA has been enduring over the last couple of months. We want collectors to feel confident [in Indian Market, the quality of work shown, the city and the Blue Rain Gallery] when they come to Santa Fe this August."

Garcia said, "We're hoping more of the business community donates money to SWAIA. It's really good for the city, for the state and for the people."

The gallery is hosting a party next week for collectors to introduce them to SWAIA's new leadership, including Maybee, Garcia said.

Maybee replaced John Torres Nez, who resigned from SWAIA on March 31 and soon after announced he was starting a new market with Paula Rivera, formerly chief of artists' services at SWAIA, and Tailinh Agoyo, SWAIA's former marketing director.

The new Indigenous Fine Art Market will be taking over the Santa Fe Railyard on Aug. 21 and 22, said Sandra Brice, marketing director for the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. "We anticipate this is going to be quite large," she said.

Brice said booths will be set up in the park, in the parking lot behind Site Santa Fe, near the tracks behind Warehouse 21, as well as in the Railyard Plaza and under the shade structure where the farmers market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The new market will also be in the Railyard on Aug. 23, the Saturday of Indian Market, but will be confined to the Railyard Park area because of other scheduled activities there. Brice said some artists intend to move to the Plaza on Saturday and Sunday of Indian Market weekend.

"We're very excited to have it here," Brice said. "It's another opportunity to exhibit art and for families to have some fun."

Torres Nez said this week that he expected there to be about 280 booths and 450 artists, including about 200 "new" artists who haven't exhibited at Indian Market.

There will be a lot of new work from artists coming from both the Northeast and the Northwest, he said. "I'm really amazed at how diverse the group is."

Nez said the Indigenous Fine Art Market's own jurying process is underway, but the group has previously said that artists who have been accepted into Indian Market are automatically eligible for the new market.

Earlier this month, the new market fell short in an online Kickstarter campaign when only about $8,000 of the $60,000 goal was pledged by online donors for programming. Nez said that some of its supporters might have had technological problems with the site or don't like the idea of giving out their credit card numbers but, "We thought we'd give it a shot."

Rangel reiterated that SWAIA supports the new market. "They are friends of mine and I wish them well. I want Native American artists to succeed," he said.

Contact Anne Constable at 986-3022 or


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Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

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