The 63rd Traditional Spanish Market took place over much of the City Different’s Plaza and downtown. It is organized by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society to encourage the local traditions of religious imagery (painted and carved) tinwork, straw, and textiles. It seemed this year that it was spread a little thin only using some parts of streets and making the wanderer walk further to see less. It might have been better to push the booths closer together so that one felt the excitement of former years. Installation is as important as what is being shown when it comes to marketing.
We have acquired a few Spanish Colonial pieces in the years we have lived here, but it takes a lot more in this area to excite me than it might in Native American. I know how fussy I am, however, and therefore I do not need to see a great deal that I like to consider the fair a success. This year there were a few things that caught my attention already at the Friday evening preview.
To step back for a moment our Community Gallery has a Chair Show where they are exhibiting chairs made by local artists. The artists were juried but not the chairs that they made. For an exhibition, artists usually do put their best foot forward. One was Andrew Garcia who we knew because we had bought a wood carved mirror from him a couple of years ago at Spanish Market. He had a armchair in the exhibition that my wife had spotted and I agreed that it would be a wonderful, as well as useful, acquisition.
It turns out that Andrew Garcia also managed to win the Blue Ribbon for Best of Show this year at Spanish Market for a cabinet he made. That helped make us feel brilliant in our purchase before the market. By the time we got to his booth on the second day of Market his Best of Show cabinet had already been sold to another artist who could appreciate this marvelous object. Garcia also received 2nd prize in the furniture category for a somewhat larger cabinet that had drawers which made it more useful. He told us that he had thought that if anything would win a prize it would be that one but the gracefully scrolling gallery and apron put the smaller piece over the top. Here they both are:
As we walked around the market we saw lots of artists explaining their craft and in one case a metal smith brought his tools and was working on one of his tin work pieces.
We also wandered through the Contemporary Hispanic Market. It seems that the powers that be feel that Spanish Market should only comprise artists with Hispanic Heritage who work in the traditional manner and create traditional imagery. These rules encourage artists to include their mother’s maiden names if they are Hispanic and the art presented includes a great many saints and crosses.
In rebellion 28 years ago Contemporary Market was started, which is far more lenient. Maybe a little too much so since I saw a lot of art that reminded me of Montmartre around Sacre Coeur in Paris where artists sold their wares to the visiting tourists. There were, however, a few artists who stood out. One that I particularly liked was a young man who paints religious imagery on metal signs. His name is Thomas V. and his website is email@example.com!
Walking back through Traditional Spanish Market I discovered one piece that totally blew my mind. It is a large manuscript which at first I thought was a hand made bible. It has a buffalo hide cover with silver ornaments and the pages are made of goat skin on which the artist has painted images and written the Spanish text. It turned out not to be a bible but a very important piece of Southwest and Santa Fe History. The Native Americans got tired of their Spanish oppressors in the 17th century. In an uprising coordinated across all the pueblos on August 10, 1680 they drove the Spanish out, killing 400 and driving the remaining 2,000 settlers away. Within 12 years, however, the Spanish returned and again took over without great opposition. The book that illustrates the event in the style of a manuscript of the period is by Ramón José López, an artist so outstanding that that he regularly wins prizes at Spanish Market.