When you’ve had your fill of traditional bultos, tinwork, straw appliqué, and other Colonial-period arts of New Mexico — featured in the annual Spanish Market (July 27-28 on the Santa Fe Plaza) — you don’t need to go far to find something with a little cutting-edge cachet. In fact, the 33rd annual Contemporary Hispanic Market, which takes place at the same time (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days), is right around the corner on Lincoln Avenue.
That’s where you’ll find photography, printmaking, sculpture, retablos (paintings of saints), and more. The event features 133 booths and 140 artists (some share a booth) and includes artists who work in ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, glass, metal, mixed media, and wood, to name a few mediums. All of the artists are residents of New Mexico and all of them are, at minimum, of one-quarter Hispanic descent. Ethnicity is taken on faith, but if there’s a discrepancy, applicants are required to provide proof. About 150 people applied this year and an additional 50 were included by invitation. The judging was done by a panel made up of artists and gallery professionals not affiliated with the Contemporary Hispanic Market.
“It’s open to all media,” said Contemporary Hispanic Market president Ramona Vigil-Eastwood. “We typically have about 50 new artists per year.”
The market offers awards to one artist in each category, as well as awards for best of show, inspiration, first-time exhibitors, and more. One artist each year receives an award of excellence called the Felipe Samaniego M.D. Fund Award, which includes a $500 cash prize. “It’s given to the artist on Saturday morning,” Vigil-Eastwood said. “The judges arrive at eight o’clock and view all the art booths. Once they’ve determined who will be receiving the awards, they return to me, and I actually walk up to their booths and present them. That usually takes place at about 10 or 10:30 a.m.”
Past award recipients who are returning this year include stone and metal sculptor Gilberto Romero (booth 45); painting and scratchboard artist Michelle Fernan (booth 10); and jewelers Bernadette and Oscar Caraveo (booth 16).
Some of the artists in the Contemporary Market work with traditional imagery or techniques, such as Santa Fe-based mixed-media artist Alberto Zalma, but they use them in nontraditional ways.
“I call what I do contemporary folk art, but it’s really a ‘new world meets old world’ mix-up,” said Zalma, owner of Zalma Lofton Gallery (407 S. Guadalupe St.), who will be participating in the market for his fourth year. What Zalma calls “traditional” includes religious iconography and the skeletal figures of Day of the Dead (known as Día de los Muertos in Spanish), but he often incorporates collage and graffiti art into the mix or uses his art as a basis to explore social and political issues. “I use a lot of newspaper articles in my work,” he said. “I use The New Mexican, The Reporter, and Pasatiempo — those three in particular.” Emblazoned across the top of most of his mixed-media paintings is the logo of the Santa Fe New Mexican, taken from the newspaper’s front page.
Zalma, who will be in booth 72, also has work in the group exhibition Nuevos Norteños, which opens with a 5 p.m. reception on Friday, July 26, at Keep Contemporary (142 Lincoln Ave., Suite 102). The show, which runs through Aug. 11, includes work by artists who build and expand on the Colonial-era arts of New Mexico and who examine traditional arts from a contemporary standpoint.
At another end of the market spectrum is art that’s not rooted in any particular Hispanic tradition, such as the fluid, cosmic abstraction of sculptor and painter Sandra Duran Wilson. In her paintings, she layers transparent acrylics to create lustrous surfaces that resemble encaustic wax. They look like the varicolored, gaseous emissions of nebulas in deep space.
“My work began, many years ago, as realistic landscapes in oil,” said Wilson, who will be in booth 58. “Then I moved into much more abstract work.”
This is Wilson’s 19th year in the market. She brings a similarly lively color palette and sense of liquid motion to her steel-mounted acrylic sculptures, some of which are freestanding and some of which were designed as wall pieces. One such work, a 2005 mixed-media painting called Transition,is on permanent display near the main entryway inside the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 W. Marcy St.).
Much of Wilson’s aesthetic is informed by a condition called synesthesia, which she describes as a crossing of the senses. “When I listen to music, I see colors,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll incorporate a musical score into a piece because that may be what I was listening to while I created the piece. It gives it another layer of meaning. I’ve done some collaborations with musicians, painting to their work.”
Wilson’s work can also be seen in the group exhibition Happy Little Clouds: Skyscapes of New Mexico, on view through Sept. 12 at the Santa Fe Arts Commission’s Community Gallery, also at 201 W. Marcy St.
Taken together, Spanish Market and Contemporary Spanish Market offer contrasting and complementary examples of New Mexico’s Hispanic artistry. For more information on Contemporary Hispanic Market visit contemporaryhispanicmarketinc.com. ◀
▼ Contemporary Hispanic Market
▼ Along Lincoln Avenue, downtown Santa Fe
▼ 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28
▼ Free admission