Last year, I traveled to Santa Fe so that I could visit the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which attracts hundreds of artists and craftspeople from around the world. It was like walking through the world's largest and most diverse open-air market, moving from country to country while walking down the aisle. It is an incredible opportunity to meet people from many countries and cultures. Inaddition, you get the good feeling of knowing that 90 percent of every purchase you make goes directly to the artist, many of whom are supporting their family - and maybe their village - with the proceeds of their art. According to organizers, earnings in previous years have helped to build schools, wells and health clinics in a number of Third World countries. They also point out that more than 97 percent of the artists come from developing countries where per capita annual incomes range from $250 to $1500. So you can tell that what they make at the market most likely will easily exceed their usual annual income.
I was working on a radio story for Explore! New Mexico and wandered the market with my camera and recorder, chatting with artists all along the way. Universally I was impressed by their devotion to their craft and by their gratitude to the market organizers for providing this amazing opportunity. I met a Toureg man whose family has created amazing jewelry for generations. A woman from Krygestan who creates dolls that represent the people of her village. The Indonesian man who makes intricate shadow puppets, which at the time were also on display at the nearby Museum of International Folk Art. The woman from Mongolia who creates paintings that represent her horse-loving culture. The Brazilian man who began making wood-block prints to illustrate his father's poetry.
I came home with fiber art: a Mongolian pony, a charming doll from Krygestan, and an embroidered wall hanging. My friend, Joyce, bought a piece of metal art crafted in Haiti from recycled oil cans. Looking at their art reminds me of the people that I met and the challenges they face on a daily basis. When I hear of political upheavals or natural disasters, I have a person in mind with whom I can connect. Attending the market isn't just the opportunity to purchase beautiful art, it is also the opportunity to make global connections.
If you'd like to go, the market opens Friday, July 9, with a special opening party from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with shopping, dancing, music, food and drinks for $125 per person. The Early Bird Market on Saturday is $50. Regular admission is $10 if purchased in advance or $15 at the door. Sunday's market is family day with tickets at $5. Children 16 and under are free Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, kids can take part in the passport program and collect stamps from booths.
The market takes place on Museum Hill in Santa Fe at 725 Camino Lejo. Free shuttles run from the Roundhouse, where there is plenty of parking. Plan to wait in line for a shuttle, but they are organized and the line moves quickly. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes!
More info at www.folkartmarket.org.
Posted by Cheryl Fallstead
Explore! New Mexico