News Column


August 24, 2014

By Kathaleen Roberts, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

Aug. 24--SANTA FE -- The gray cotton clouds hugging the Sangre de Cristos dispersed just in time for thousands of people to flood the 93rd Annual Santa Fe Indian Market early Saturday.

Just south of the main event, artists in the Santa Fe Railyard Park and Plaza were setting up their booths for the debut of the Indigenous Fine Art Market.

Collectors and shoppers straddled both markets over the weekend, organizers and artists said. The new market group formed earlier this year after John Torres Nez, former chief operating officer of the traditional market sponsor, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, left the organization. IFAM describes itself as "by the artists, for the artists," saying it represents a reconnection to artists alienated by SWAIA's established way of running the event. The new market ended Saturday.

As visitor Susan Howard walked into the Railyard, she said she had traveled to Santa Fe for 20 years before moving here a year ago. She said she had never attended the traditional Indian market.

"It's new and I wanted to see what's here," Howard said, examining a sandstone and feather-topped effigy figure.

At the traditional market, more than 1,000 artists sell jewelry, pottery, textiles, paintings and more from booths snaking around the Plaza and spilling onto its side streets. Organizers say more than 175,000 people are drawn to the event, which continues through today.

Collectors and visitors said they were aware there were two markets, saying they planned to attend both.

Weaver Martowe Kataney showed his Angry Birds-meets-Dine rug after just setting up in the Railyard. He said that, at $225, booth fees were about half the price of the SWAIA-sponsored event.

"It's just more affordable to me," he said. He also said the Heard Museum in Phoenix had recently purchased two of his rugs.

On the Plaza, first place pottery winner Russell Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo had sold his two winning black-on-black jars by 6 a.m. Six of his nine pieces were gone before 10 a.m.

"It's going well for me," he said. "I also hold a show at home and I sold them all."

California collector Bert Levy surveyed Sanchez's booth, explaining he had already visited the Railyard show.

"I liked it," he said, adding he had bought a Penobscot basket from a Michigan artist. "I didn't know what to expect, but it was very impressive."

New York shopper LuAnn Bowers disagreed.

"We were not very impressed by what we saw," she said. Her Santa Fe friend Amy Brown said the focus seemed to be on younger artists.

"We saw a lot of stuff that was really a mixed bag," Brown said.

On the Plaza, flower baskets tumbled with petunias in the soft breeze as shoppers gawked and bought, dressed in everything from a vault's worth of silver and turquoise to shorts and polo shirts. Native rockers added the chiming guitars of Big Head Todd and the Monsters' "Bittersweet Surrender" from the Santa Fe Bandstand.

Across the Santa Fe River, the Railyard thundered with the rhythms of James Brown and Marvin Gaye through stage speakers. White tented booths abutted a trumpet vine-laced trellis, and a mix of stone and native plants in Railyard Park. Although attendance appeared sparse, Torres Nez said business was good.

"I see a lot of artists with smiling faces and that's a good sign," he said. "We had a lot of Albuquerque folks from the train. A lot of Santa Feans took the train at (the N.M. 599 station) and came down here."

Torres Nez said about 300 artists were selling in the Railyard.

"A lot of locals who said the last thing they wanted to do was go downtown, they like it here because they see it as a community space."

Acoma Pueblo painter Brian Vallo said he had already sold out in the Railyard by Friday. His customers were from Ohio, Florida, California and New Mexico.

"This is my second show ever," the former SWAIA board member said. "I wanted to support the new initiative. I wanted to support the idea of a new and less competitive market." 93rd Annual Santa Fe Indian Market

WHERE: Santa Fe Plaza

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

HOW MUCH: Free. Call 505-983-5220 or see


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Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)

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