Zachariah Julian works at an Albuquerque bookstore and practices piano for three hours every day. He recently released an EP, Grace, with his new band, Zachariah Julian & These Marked Trees. Julian described his music as contemporary blues-rock with bits of jazz inspiration, some of which is written in the tradition of art songs by Robert Schumann and Kurt Weill, with narratives based on coyote stories from the Jicarilla Apache Nation, where Julian grew up.

Peggy Fontenot brings examples of her photography, old and new, to the We Are the Seeds Native art market and culture festival, Santa Fe Railyard, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15 and 16. Then she heads to the Scottish Rite Temple for the Free Indian Market, Aug. 17 and 18.

Julian plays solo and with his band at We Are the Seeds, a native art market and culture festival held in the Railyard Park on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15 and 16.

We Are the Seeds — or just “Seeds” for short — is a summer culture festival that includes an art market with approximately 70 indigenous artists from around the United States. There are also all-ages arts and crafts workshops, a fashion show, storytelling, a social dance, and other activities, as well as food trucks and Native food tents for the estimated 4,000 people who will visit the park over the two days of the festival. Seeds is organized by Tailinh Agoyo and Paula Mirabal, two women who, Julian said, treat the artists and volunteers like family, whether they are world-famous or struggling to get known.

Colleen Farwell will sell and sign copies of her children's book I Will Carry You at the Seeds author tent, Santa Fe Railyard Park, 10 a.m-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15 and 16. 

“They really care about and support your vision. Seeds has got a soul and a heartbeat to it.”

Music is ongoing at We Are the Seeds. People can tune it in and out as they peruse the art, said Julian, who is in charge of programming the bands. For the festival’s third year, he has arranged an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary indigenous acts, including DJs, singer-songwriters, rock and blues players, and even an opera singer. Sherenté Mishitashin Harris, a two-spirit artist and award-winning dancer from the Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island, reprises his role as Seeds emcee. (“Two-spirit” is a modern, pan-Indian term that describes nonbinary gender and sexuality in Native American communities within a traditional cultural context.)

Agoyo and Mirabal have a couple of decades of experience organizing Native art markets. Both worked in marketing and event management for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Santa Fe Indian Market. They then co-founded the Indigenous Fine Art Market in 2014 before being asked by the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation to envision a new festival for the days preceding the annual Santa Fe Indian Market. Agoyo said that Seeds is designed to be accessible both to visitors and local residents.

In a digital print depicting Shiprock, New Mexico-based artist Darby Raymond-Overstreet rendered the rocky outcropping in vivid detail. In the pale blue sky surrounding it, the patterns of a Navajo rug can be seen. Less noticeable, at first glance, are the weaving patterns in the rock itself.

“I know it’s odd because it’s on Thursday and Friday, but we did surveys in the last two years, and most of the people who came were from Santa Fe. People popped in on their lunch hour or took a little time at the end of the day. It’s small enough that you can stop by and have something to eat and see the whole market.”

Flexibility is key to the organizers, who have seen other festivals get bogged down by entrenched processes. For instance, in Seeds’ first two years, artists were accepted via jury selection, but this year, they decided to keep it simple by inviting artists who’d previously attended and then opening up additional booth space to new artists, who were accepted based on samples of their work. The art ranges from the work of elders selling the most traditional of wares, like baskets and pottery, to cutting-edge design, such as live screen-printing by Saba, a Diné/Walatowa artist.

“Last year, a woman brought her Louis Vuitton bag and had him print one of his designs on it,” Agoyo said. “That was trust. Obviously, it was one of her prized possessions.”

The sense of family at Seeds that Julian described is something literal for Tchin, a New Jersey jeweler and musician from the Blackfeet and Narragansett tribes who happens to be Agoyo’s father. He has shown previously at SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market but now shows at Seeds and at the Free Indian Market (Aug. 17 and 18 at the Scottish Rite Center). In 2018, Tchin (pronounced “chin”) had one of his best sales weekends in recent memory at Seeds, but he said that the point of this festival is not really about selling his work as much as it is about educating the public about contemporary Native life — and about getting to know artists from different indigenous communities around the country.

“We’re all trying to help each other, and we can exchange ideas and techniques,” Tchin said. “There’s kind of a softness to Seeds, a noncompetitive feeling where everyone is looking at each other’s stuff and no one is thinking about winning prizes.” ◀


▼ We Are the Seeds

▼ 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 15 and 16

▼ Santa Fe Railyard Park, 740 Cerrillos Road

▼ $10 suggested donation (pay what you wish);

benefit dinner 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, $15

▼ For a complete entertainment and workshop schedule,