Where the Past is Present

The evo­lu­tion of Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket. By Su­san Sorg

Native American Art - - IN THIS ISSUE - BY SU­SAN SORG

Just like the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder,” the same holds true for his­tory: It’s all in the eye, or con­text, of the be­holder. So it is with Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket, as it cel­e­brates its 97th year. Younger artists and mar­ket­go­ers may think the event which draws over 100,000 at­ten­dees has al­ways been this big. Artists in their 60s, 70s, or older, how­ever, re­mem­ber their own youth, when hip­pies and Madi­son Av­enue “dis­cov­ered” Na­tive art at this ju­ried art show.

In­dian Mar­ket, or the First An­nual South­west In­dian Fair, as it was called, was held in con­junc­tion with Santa Fe Fi­esta in Septem­ber, 1922. What started as a week­end show­cas­ing the new San Ilde­fonso black-on­black pot­tery (made specif­i­cally to sell to tourists) was where it all re­ally be­gan.

By 1934, the In­dian Fair com­mit­tee be­came the New Mex­ico As­so­ci­a­tion on In­dian Af­fairs, and the growth of this an­nual gath­er­ing fea­tur­ing Na­tive arts con­tin­ued. That evolved in 1959 into the South­west­ern As­so­ci­a­tion on In­dian Af­fairs, or SWAIA, which is still in place to­day. SWAIA made the move in 1962 to sep­a­rate In­dian Mar­ket from the Santa Fe Fi­esta as the an­nual Na­tive arts week­end worked on es­tab­lish­ing its own iden­tity.

An­other iden­tity was also tak­ing shape that decade as youth­ful voices around the world an­nounced they were blaz­ing their own trail as a gen­er­a­tion. Busi­nesses and ad­ver­tis­ers saw a fresh, un­tapped mar­ket and hopped on that band­wagon, which was more likely a VW van painted wildly with flow­ers. As hip­pies and Hol­ly­wood dis­cov­ered Na­tive art, oth­ers took note. The scenery was cer­tainly be­com­ing fa­mil­iar. The clas­sic anti-es­tab­lish­ment movie Easy Rider was filmed in nearby Taos in 1968 and re­leased in 1969 as this new gen­er­a­tional wave started crest­ing.

For­mer SWAIA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Bruce Bern­stein says while there’s al­ways been in­ter­est, it was knowl­edge about Na­tive peo­ple that grew out of the 1960s with hip­pies and the en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment. “Julie Christie, she wears a con­cha belt on one cover

1. Zia pot­tery ven­dors un­der Palace of Gov­er­nors Por­tal, 1938. Photo cour­tesy of Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Archives, Neg­a­tive 135047. 2. Por­trait of Pah­ponee, an award win­ning Kick­apoo pot­ter. 3. Julie Christie ap­pears inLife Mag­a­zine wear­ing a con­cha belt.

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