This post was first published on July 15, 2012. It was updated for Spanish Market 2016 on July 13 ,2016.
Traditional Spanish Market is a fixture in Santa Fe. Every summer, on the last full weekend of July, the city’s historic Plaza area becomes a sea of colorful booths displaying traditional crafts that have been part of the state’s history and culture for over 400 hundred years. The event, held by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, attracts over 80,000 people each year, many of whom are collectors. Spanish Market 2016, the 65th consecutive market, takes place on Saturday, July 30th and Sunday, July 31st. Over 200 artisans will be showing and selling their work at Traditional Spanish Market 20016. Spanish Market, founded in 1926 and interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II, was restarted in 1952. It’s still going strong!
A bit about Spanish Market
According to their website, the purpose of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society is to “preserve and perpetuate Hispano art forms that have been produced in New Mexico and southern Colorado since the region was colonized by Spain in 1598.” The skills and techniques of these folk art genres have been passed down through generations of families of Spanish heritage. Both the annual Spanish Markets (there’s winter markets in Albuquerque and Las Cruces) and the Society’s Museum of Spanish Colonial Art support and nourish this tradition.
What is Spanish Colonial Art?
There’s a long list of the traditional arts represented at the Spanish Market 2016. The settlements in New Mexico over 400 years ago were difficult to reach from Mexico City, the capital of Nueva España (New Spain). Because of Santa Fe’s remote location it was necessary for colonists to create much of what they needed for daily life. People took pride in their work so these household items were beautiful as well as functional. These arts, passed down from one generation to the next, are dying out a bit in the technological world of the 21st century. Luckily, there are some young people still interested in these upholding these traditions. Over 40 of these young artists will showcase their work in the Emerging Artists area. Each year during the judging for Spanish Market, a piece of art is chosen from one of the young exhibitors to be used for the annual Winter Spanish Market’s poster. Check out these future masters and buy their wares. You may be getting a treasure; some of them may be famous one day.
Spanish Colonial Arts on view at the market include
Santos: depictions of devotional figures in the form of bultos (carvings in the round) retablos (paintings on wooden panels), and gesso and wood relief-carved panels
Straw Appliqué: crosses, chests and boxes decorated with hand-cut straw
Textiles: hand-woven on looms using handspun yarns
Furniture: usually made of pine using mortise and tenon joints
Hide Paintings: devotional images painted on deer or elk hide
Colcha: unique regional embroideries employing the colcha stitch
Tinwork: decorative and utilitarian objects of cut and punched tin
Ironwork: tools, fastenings and household objects forged from iron
Precious Metals: silver and gold jewelry, utilitarian and devotional objects
Pottery: hand-sculpted bowls, pots and other ware made from micaceous clay
Bonework: decorative items, anillos (rings) and tool handles carved from animal antlers and bone
Ramilletes: decorative paper garlands
Contemporary Hispanic Market
Don’t miss Contemporary Hispanic Market, on Lincoln Avenue north of the Plaza. The market, started in 1987, gives contemporary artists of Hispanic descent a place to showcase their work. Their mission is “to provide statewide Artists an opportunity to show their work and give the casual and serious collector a rare opportunity to meet and visit with some of its most respected Hispanic Artists currently producing art in New Mexico today.” Come view and buy as you meet and talk to the artists who created it. Mediums on view include painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and pottery.
Nuts and bolts of Spanish Market 2016
If you want to get an early start on Spanish Market 2016 events, both the traditional and contemporary markets offer Friday evening previews. Traditional Spanish Market is holding their preview at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa at 309 W. San Francisco Street from 5 to 8pm. On view: award-winning art from Spanish Market 2016. This is a ticketed event. Contemporary Hispanic Market’s preview is from 5:30pm to 8pm at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. It’s free to the public. There will be entertainment and refreshments.
Traditional Spanish Market 2016 hours are from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sunday. Admission is free. On Sunday at 8am there’s a special Spanish Market Mass at St. Francis Cathedral open to all. Contemporary Hispanic Market is from 9am to 5pm both days.
Traditional Spanish Market offers serious collectors an opportunity to add to their collections. For others it offers an opportunity to buy traditional handcrafts and perhaps future heirlooms directly from the artisans. You can meet the artisans and ask questions about their work and learn about their artistic process and their lives. In addition, there will be music, dancing, art demonstrations and regional foods. You can find a full schedule of Spanish Market 2016 events on the museum’s website.
Santa Fe has three major summer artisans’ markets. Which is your favorite? If you’ve never been here for one (or even if you have) and want our help planning your visit, contact us at The Santa Fe Traveler.