By Amanda Crocker
The Santa Fe Indian Market is the largest and most prestigious juried Native arts show in the world. Launched in 1922, Indian Market attracts more than 120,000 visitors from across the world, to buy art directly from roughly 1,000 artists from 200 plus federally recognized tribes from the U.S. and Canada.
For many visitors, the Indian Market provides a unique opportunity to meet Native artists and learn about contemporary Indian arts and cultures. Quality and authenticity are the hallmarks of the Santa Fe Indian Market.
“Come for the art, stay for the experience.” Ask anyone who has been, and they will tell you that Santa Fe Indian Market is much more than a market—it’s an experience. Some 700 artist booths, filled with jewelry, pottery, textiles, basketry, paintings and much more, take over 17 blocks of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Native music and dance, a clothing contest and a film festival are highlights of the weekend, and are all free to the public. Also open to the public is the Contemporary Fashion Show, now in its fourth year. It features native designers who are putting forward cutting-edge designs and accessories for showcase at the Indian Market, and takes place Saturday afternoon, with seats available for a small fee.
For those looking for a more intimate experience, there is the Best of Show Ceremony & Luncheon and the Preview of Award-Winning Art, both of which occur the Friday before. At the Best of Show Ceremony, attendees can be among the first to find out which artists have won the prestigious “Best of Class” awards in all traditional categories, as well as the highly coveted “Best of Show” award. Being a Best of Show winner at the Santa Fe Indian Market can be a career-changer.
At the Preview of Award-Winning Art event, later in the day, attendees can peruse the several hundred entries into judging for Best of Show, displayed in the ballroom of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. It is an opportunity to see the best art in Native America close-up before it is swept up and taken out to the artists’ booth Saturday morning, and then dispersed across the globe. Tickets for these events are available via santafeindianmarket.com, or by calling 505-983-5220.
The most elegant and exclusive event of Indian Market is the annual gala, which is held on Saturday evening at the historic La Fonda on the Plaza. Guests, including some of the best-known and highly regarded Native artists in the world, are encouraged to dress in traditional tribal regalia and “Santa Fe formal” for a dinner and live auction, preceded by a cocktail party and silent auction.
The bidding is high-energy and the chance to go home with a master work of art, created by an artist who may be sitting with you in the room, is once-in-a-lifetime. The Gala is also the largest fundraiser for SWAIA (Southwestern Association for Indian Arts), the local non-profit that produces the Santa Fe Indian Market. Visit the website or call SWAIA for tickets, which sells out every year.
Santa Fe Indian Market is nothing if not diverse. The diversity within the tribes, the individual artists – and, of course, the art itself – makes for an exciting show. It is truly a time when Native Americans come together. ♦
Santa Fe Indian Market by the Numbers
• Santa Fe Indian Market attracts over 120,000 visitors from all over the world, to buy art directly from roughly 1,000 artists from 200+ federally recognized tribes from the U.S. and Canada. The event spans 17 city blocks in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.
• Each year, between $75,000 – $100,000 is given out in awards directly to artists, recognizing both traditional and contemporary art forms.
• Five to eight Artist Fellowships are awarded each year, including for youth.
• The Santa Fe Indian Market provides enormous economic opportunities; many artists make a third or half of their yearly income at the event.
• At Santa Fe Indian Market, 100 percent of the proceeds of sales remains with the artists. SWAIA does not take a percentage of artistsí sales, but instead relies on booth fees, donors, sponsors and memberships.
Countdown to the 100th Santa Fe Indian Market:
96th: August 19-20, 2017
97th: August 18-19, 2018
98th: August 17-18, 2019
99th: August 15-16, 2020
100th: August 21-22, 2021