Only at Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market can you find Australian aboriginal paintings depicting utopian dreams; eco-friendly apparel made with tixinda, or purple sea snail dye, from Mexico; and fiddles with hand-painted hummingbirds made by a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe.
The 16th annual event, which runs from Friday through July 14, will feature artwork from four never-before-represented countries: the United States, Australia, Iraq and Bulgaria. With 45 debut artists and vast diversity, organizers are excited about the new offerings in this year’s market.
Keith Recker, the Folk Art Market’s creative director, said he believes new artists comprise “the most dynamic, the most diverse, the most compelling first-year group we’ve ever seen.”
After receiving more than 700 applications, Recker said, members of two different selection committees sifted through art samples, eventually curating their list of 190 artists who will sell goods at 178 booths.
In all, 52 countries will be represented at the three-day event on Museum Hill. Aboriginal Australians will showcase constellation-like paintings. Iraq’s first and only environmental conservation nonprofit, Nature Iraq, will display colorful woven rugs called “wedding carpets.” And Ivan Dimitrov, who now lives in Santa Fe, will sell some of his intricate Bulgarian woodcarvings.
In addition to foreign-born artists and those coming from overseas, the market will feature five Americans for the first time.
Each of the artists — Bill Ray Hussey, a master potter from North Carolina; Mary Tafoya, a heishi jewelry-maker from Santo Domingo Pueblo; Anthony Belvado, a fiddle-maker from Arizona’s San Carlos Apache Reservation; Elizabeth Manygoats, a Navajo potter; and Marie Romero Cash, a Spanish woodcarver from Santa Fe — was selected by a local museum.
“I know, in talking to the [American] artists, they feel like all-stars,” said Stuart Ashman, the market’s CEO.
Although the Americans were chosen via museums rather than the typical selection process, Ashman said, the museums’ “standards are the same as ours.”
The market will feature a “Sustainability Sunday,” highlighting artists’ use of recycled goods and conscientious production standards. A special map given to visitors early Sunday morning will guide them to 22 vendors, where kids can partake in various hands-on workshops and visitors can learn more about environmentally friendly art techniques used around the world.
“It’s drawing attention to what many of these artists do naturally,” said Folk Art Market spokeswoman Clare Hertel.
Some of the eco-centric artists include: Mexican Dreamweavers, a group that uses a secretion from an endangered snail to dye apparel a rich violet hue; Guatemala’s Multicolores cooperative of indigenous women, which uses recycled clothes to create hooked rugs; and Haiti’s Serge Jolimeau, who transforms recycled steel oil drums into sculptures.
Several artists will be part of the “innovation tent,” Recker said, which plays host to 30 booths throughout the weekend. That tent will be home to eco-folk art, folk contemporary and urban folk — all genres Recker said helps propel tradition into the modern world.
For Ashman, the emphasis on sustainability aligns with the market’s mission to “meet the maker.”
“When you go to Target and you buy something, you don’t have to think about where this was made or who made it,” he said. “When you come to the market, they can tell you who grew the cotton, who spun it, who wove it and who sewed the shirt that you’re buying.”
Because the market seeks to stir conversation and make a difference, Ashman said, Nelson Mandela’s 37-year-old grandson Ndaba Mandela was chosen as the market’s third honorary chair. Mandela will participate in an opening procession Thursday night at the Plaza and speak alongside Kenyan entrepreneur Teddy Warria at several market events throughout the weekend.
By the numbers: Market impact since 2004
1,000-plus master folk artists from 100 countries represented
$31 million generated from artist sales; 90 percent goes home with new artists, 80 percent with returning artists
1.1 million lives affected
$13.7 million added to the regional economy from visitor spending, jobs and tax revenues
Source: International Folk Art Market
If you go
What: The 16th annual International Folk Art Market is a three-day event featuring works from 190 artists from around the world.
When: The event kicks off from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. An early-bird special runs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday and general admission is from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, July 14, the market runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Museum Hill, Camino Lejo in Santa Fe
Cost: The Friday night opening party costs $225 per person, offering food, music and art. Early-bird tickets for Saturday are $85 per person. General admission tickets on Saturday are $20, and Sunday tickets are $15. Free admission for those 16 and under is from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and all day Sunday.
This story has been amended to reflect the following correction. A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the creative director as Kevin Recker. His name is Keith Recker.