A single day, an international folk art buffet

Folk Art Flea returns with secondhand items from around the world; photo David Margolis

July’s International Folk Art Market is likely on your radar if you’re looking for a selection of contemporary, hand-crafted folk art and a chance to meet the artist who made it. But if you’re a collector in pursuit of a bargain (and the unexpected), the annual Folk Art Flea promises to be a gem, returning after a three-year hiatus with its largest collection of secondhand international folk art yet.

“We’ve used the term ‘bigger and better than ever,’ but there’s truth in it,” says event co-chair Jo Ann Ward. “Even though the flea hasn’t been held the last few years, we’ve been receiving donations all through that period.”

Ward, one of a triumvirate of event chairs, is responsible for the marketing and public relations aspect of The Flea, which is sponsored by the Friends of Folk Art, a Museum of New Mexico Foundation members’ group established to support the Museum of International Folk Art (706 Camino Lejo, 505-476-1200, internationalfolkart.org).

“A lot of people are downsizing, moving to smaller places during the pandemic,” Ward says. “People move, or they die, and maybe their children are not interested in folk art, so we get a lot of fabulous estate items that come to us instead of going to auction.”

The Folk Art Flea takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds (3229 Rodeo Drive). Friends of Folk Art members receive early admission, starting at 9 a.m. Attendance is free.

The venue is a change from previous years: The Flea was held on Milner Plaza on Museum Hill. “It was clear that it wasn’t quite big enough,” says event co-chair Laurie Vänder Velde, who’s handling all of the logistics. “It became my passion to find another place to hold it.”

“This will allow us to serve more people,” Ward says. “Parking will be a breeze. We don’t have to hire a sheriff’s posse to control the traffic, which was difficult for the other museums on the hill when such a big event is held. So we’re thrilled with the move.”

The Flea reserved 200 6-foot tables to accommodate all of the objects, which will be arranged in two large-scale buildings on the fairgrounds.

“We have a section called ‘Collectors Corner,’ which is higher-end items,” Ward says. “We have a jewelry section with costume jewelry and some finer jewelry. The rest is textiles, pottery, metal, wood — combinations all of the above. It’s folk art from all over the world and, of course, pieces acquired here locally, and a lot of Indigenous art as well.”

Vänder Velde adds that the amount of material is unbelievable. “This year, we’re setting up in two days, which is unprecedented. And we don’t even know what we have to sell until we start laying it out. It’s very exciting.”

All proceeds benefit educational programs and exhibitions at MOIFA. The flea adds about $60,000 to $70,000 to the museum’s coffers annually and has raised more than $500,000 total from the past 10 events. Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 505-982-6366, museumfoundation.org

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