Santa Fe is a town of markets, with all that implies.
Markets are temporary, a creation of a day or weekend, with artists and vendors changing over the months and years. They bring in tens of thousands of people to town, developing the economy — both for the people selling and for the businesses that serve marketgoers.
Because of their temporary nature, markets can be nimble, adjusting as conditions change.
Just this month, Santa Fe saw a slimmed-down yet vibrant International Folk Art Market, with fewer artists and visitors but stretching over two weekends. Now, with hardly a pause between events, it is time for the Spanish Colonial Art Society’s 69th annual Traditional Spanish Market, taking place on and around the Santa Fe Plaza on Saturday and Sunday.
With fewer than 100 adult artists this year, the traditional market is smaller than in the past, while still celebrating all forms of art forged from life at the edge of the Spanish empire.
It will not be a ticketed event, meaning visitors are free to browse and spend time on the Plaza. Contemporary Hispanic Market also will be back; again, it will be smaller but open to all in its usual location off the Plaza down Lincoln Street.
Making connections is a large part of market season, whether between artist and collector or just two people sitting on a bench and listening to traditional music. Those conversations create the experience of a market, something no online sales event can ever match.
Other opportunities to mingle come during market week before the first piece of art sells on the Plaza.
Youth artists will be displayed at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, 750 Camino Lejo, Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m., at a free exhibit. Several artists are offering studio tours, the list of which can be found at spanishcolonial.org. On Sunday, the traditional Spanish Market Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi beginning at 9 a.m. and followed by a procession and market blessing around 10:30 a.m.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, past Spanish Market Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement recipients are joining for a preview show ahead of market. Held at 17 Anastacio Lane in Tesuque, the preview is bringing together some of the best of the best. Participants include Monica Sosaya Halford, Arlene Cisneros Sena, Rita Padilla Hauffman, Mel Rivera, Juanito Jimenez and Lawrence Baca.
Not all preview participants are taking part in market this year — crowds still can be a worry because of the coronavirus — but these master artists wanted a place where they still could meet friends and collectors in a smaller setting.
Who knows? This could be the start of a market tradition, creating additional must-see events in the days leading up to market, just as has happened at Indian Market for decades.
For this year, we can celebrate the return of Traditional Spanish Market and Contemporary Hispanic Market. It’s fine to wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer while keeping a comfortable distance from others. Sensible precautions won’t stop individuals from the enjoyment that comes from making connections, taking home a piece of heirloom art and simply being around people. Because at markets, people come together.