I had never heard of the Santa Fe Indian Market until August 1987; it was the first time I had seen so much fantastic art in all my life. One of the first booths I had seen was the Alaskan gal Denise Wallace’s jewelry; of course there was a huge crowd around her booth like no one else’s because her astounding jewelry was like none other. She was and still is, a celebrity.
The market opens early Saturday at 7am for those art collectors who are racing for that prize possession and enthusiasts who want to get ahead of the crowd. I had heard several people from a number of institutions came by my booth that early but I was not available. Directly after I spent 2 hours setting up my booth, directly at 7 I had to pick up my “Chilkat Child” who I had entered into the Juried Art Show; it took about an hour of waiting in line. However, I was able to catch Julia White, the coordinator of the Tulsa Artist Residency, from which I was one of 12 artists across the nation who was chosen as a recipient of their inaugural residency fellowship to live and work in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a year.
I did my very first Santa Fe Indian Market in 1994 winning the Best of Show with my “Following My Ancestor’s Trail” button blanket wall mural which sold to a collector from Tuscon, Arizona. I won about $5K in awards, sold my load of button blanket greeting cards featuring 9 of my favorite robes, and sold a Ravenstail headdress. I walked away with a chunk of change; it was enough to put a down payment on a house!
The Santa Fe Indian Market is a zoo; it draws about 100,000 visitors from all over the world for the week before and after the Market. Lots of traffic jams in Santa Fe during this time. I don’t understand how artists can do this show every year. I cannot do this show every year. It takes me about 4 years to re-couperate which is why this is only the 5th time I have been an artist vendor at the market. It’s a lot of work to prepare for the market, then we gotta set up at 5am to 7am when the market opens. And when the day is done at 5pm, we gotta strike the set and pack it up, only to do the same thing the next day. It doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it IS!
I had a good time at this market. It was the first time my booth faced the sunshine; I think that is why I enjoyed this year better than all the other years. You see, when I come from a grey, damp place like Juneau, Alaska and land in the arid country of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it naturally puts a smile in my body. Many of us Tlingits know what I experience!
And yes, all the items you see in these photos of my booth at the market are for sale, except the white curtains and the chilkat robe on the loom. I invite you to contact me for prices and more information.
Another pleasant aspect of this year’s Indian Market included being with my kids and grandchildren during the week. There’s nothing like being a grandma. And though I am not a great grandmother, I am learning how to become one…!
The night before the market, several Tlingit artists gathered together for a dinner at my son’s house in Santa Fe. We were discussing the logistics of creating a mentorship program for our artists back home, based on New Zealand’s Maori artists. We asked ourselves enough questions, like “What does it mean to be a mentor? How do you know you are a mentor? What are the expectations of self as a Mentor and expectations from the apprentice?
There are many events sponsored by other organizations outside of SWAIA’s (Southwest Association of Indian Arts) annual Indian Market, including an offspring of the Indian Market called IFAM which takes place for two days at the “Railyard”; there’s an artist supply market at the El Dorado Hotel de Santa Fe; there’s Dorothy Grant’s fashion show and of course, numerous gallery openings!
The Institute of American Indian Arts Scholarship Gala is held the Wednesday before the Santa Fe Indian Market (Saturday & Sunday); the place is packed with prominent artists, arts organizations across the country including representatives from NMAI (National Museum of the American Indian), NACF (Native Arts & Culture Foundation), art historians and collectors. I was invited by NACF to be a guest at their table since I had recently won this year’s fellowship.
Nearly 22 years ago when I first had a booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the only Northwest Coast artist represented was a totem pole carver, Reggie Petersen from Sitka, Alaska. He said he had been doing the market for nearly 20 years with no other comrades from the Northwest except clothing designer, the late Betty David, and he was so happy to finally see “another Tlingit!” Although we had never met, he hugged me as if I were the last person on earth! lol. His wife, 4 children and he would make it an annual sojourn where they would take the ferry from Sitka to Seattle, then drive to Santa Fe and back again. He always had a log that he was carving smack dab in the middle of the Santa Fe Plaza. He said this was one of the ways in which he received commissions for totem poles. Lots of work being a full-time artist with 4 children.
Haida basket weavers Diane Douglas-Willard, her daughter Jianna and Dolly Garza are vendors at the market too. Diane says she has been a vendor at the Market for 20 consecutive years.
One of the hardest things about being a vendor at the market is that I don’t have time to take a break and visit all the other artists let alone attend all the other activites such as the main-stage performances or the fashion show. However, the day before Indian Market began, my daughter Lily and I took a jaunt over to the Railyard where the IFAM art show was happening. We saw several Northwest Coast Native artists including Peter Boome and Zoe Marieh Urness!
I admire the small city of Santa Fe for its unique architecture, dramatic style in clothing, furniture, jewelry — everything for that matter! Even its people! Check out the Trader Joe’s de Santa Fe! Holy—now THERE’s a mixture of all kinds of folks in a middle-class store! Simply entertaining to watch who shops there.
During the early morning of the first day of the Santa Fe Indian Market, a large group of young protestors marched through announcing their disagreement with the government continuing to pollute the Southwest environment and then lying about it. I was surprised there was a demonstration yet proud that the younger generation has stepped up to the plate. It is a good thing to bring awareness to the general public about atrocities to our human race and its well-being.
And then directly after the demonstration, there was this guy across my booth standing with a black, worn-out umbrella. (He sure looked familiar! Lol.) The sun wasn’t even at its hottest yet, though he was prepared for anything. That’s the message for you folks today: be prepared for anything!