The third week of August each year, over 100,000 people from all over the U.S. and around the globe flock to Santa Fe. What brings these large numbers here? The annual Santa Fe Indian Market, now in its 93rd year. Held by the Southwest Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), it’s the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. This year, it will be joined by a newcomer - Indigenous Fine Art Market (IFAM).
Indian Market on the Santa Fe Plaza — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
This year, SWAIA kicks off Indian Market Week with the Native Cinema Showcase on Monday, Aug. 18. Events reflecting native art and culture - including literary presentations, music and a fashion show - are scheduled throughout the week. The IFAM event, which will take place in the Santa Fe Railyard, begins on Thursday, Aug. 21, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 23. The SWAIA market, always held in and around the historic Santa Fe Plaza, takes place on Saturday, Aug. 23, and Sunday, Aug. 24.
These markets are an opportunity for dealers, collectors and just plain folks to buy some of the best Indian art in the world. Both juried markets feature American Indian artists from around the U.S., as well as from Canada’s First Nation people. Participants must have registered tribal affiliations to be eligible.
Art from diverse genres and mediums representing both traditional and contemporary art forms will be on view and for sale at both events. SWAIA expects to have over 700 booths with more than 1,000 artists participating. Over 400 artists will have their work on display at IFAM.
Beaded horse mask by Beverly Moran — Photo courtesy of Arland Ben
Mediums represented at both markets include jewelry (such as turquoise, silver gold and other precious and semi-precious stones), pottery, sculpture from a variety of mediums, textiles, paintings, kachinas (carvings of spirit beings), beadwork, baskets and drums.
Indian Market started as the Southwest Indian Fair and Industrial Arts and Crafts sponsored by the Museum of New Mexico in 1922 to showcase native art. Originally part of the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe, the event was taken over by the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs in 1934. The group changed its name to SWAIA in 1959.
Apache water basket in a booth at the Whitehawk Ethnographic Show — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
This event is always an exciting time for dealers, collectors and others who are in Santa Fe during Market Week. There are other art and antique shows held at this time, including the long-running Antique Indian and Ethnographic Art Show at the Santa Fe Convention Center and the newer Objects of Art Santa Fe (formerly the Santa Fe Show) at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe ("The Cultural Museum of Santa Fe") in the Railyard District.
If you want to see (and buy) some of the best American Indian art in the world, head for Santa Fe for Indian Market and IFAM. If you can’t make it this year, remember: it will be back, same time next year.
A booth at the Objects of Art Santa Fe (formerly the Santa Fe Show) — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins