Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the “City Different” (Santa Fe, New Mexico) for their annual International Folk Art Market. My mom and I stayed right outside of the historic Plaza and enjoyed the wonderful absence of Cincinnati weather, the abundance of art, and the beautiful scenery within the city and on its outskirts.

It was pretty easy to walk just about everywhere, but even if the high altitude made exercise hard, there were people on bicycles with taxi attachments on the back (just in case you need to feel extra bad for not walking—there are people willing to bike up big hills with extra weight on the back).

The Market started Friday night with a higher entrance fee for those who want to get a head start. For most, Saturday is the opening day and that’s when we went. I don’t think either of us were prepared for the magnitude of the Market, or for that matter the tremendous line leading up to the buses that take everyone to Museum Hill (the location of The Market).

Once we got there, we were met with hundreds of booths, representing over 45 countries and folk art traditions. Being there, amongst the great variety of art, was a true reminder of the way people will find any means possible to be creative and leave their personal mark in the art community.

One particular artist’s work that I found stunning was the gourd carver from Peru. She did a demonstration while we there. Essentially, she carved into the gourd with a small knife and then burned the areas she wanted to darken. She and her father (a master gourd carver) have work in the Smithsonian. The intricacies in the carvings are baffling and like all professionals—she made it look effortless.

Paintings on a 2-D surface were unusual but there were some great ones from Nepal. The women there typically paint their mud walls during ceremonial times like weddings with pigments found in the area. Then, during monsoon season, the paintings wash off. Recently the women have begun transferring these images onto homemade paper. Instead of local pigments, which might not last as long, they’ve begun using acrylics. Here’s one of their paintings.

The talent amongst the hundreds of artists in The Market was overwhelming, but seeing it all was an experience I would love to have again next year. Besides the art, the food was a sight too. There was a whole section set up for international food. I indulged in some Native American fry bread and corn on the cob (dipped in butter…oops). If you get bored with the market—a nearly impossible feat—you can stop by the museums in the area such as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Bon Voyage!

McKenzie Graham
Editorial Intern
The Artist’s Magazine

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