Contemporary Hispanic Market
CONTEMPORARY HISPANIC MARKET
The new(er) kids on the block bring a spirit of innovation and edginess to the field. By Arnold Vigil
There is a long history of diverse coexistence in Santa Fe: Spanish colonistas (colonists), Native Americans and Anglo settlers commingling on the landscape; cattle, goats and sheep chomping on the range; skiers and snowboarders carving up the slopes; ricos (rich people), pobres (poor people) and jípes (hippies) dancing and eating side-by-side downtown at Fiesta de Santa Fe.
And one summer 30 years ago in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, with the debut of what is now known as the Contemporary Hispanic Market, 11 free-spirited artists began displaying their work with the scores of strictly traditional artists and craftsmen showing nearby on the Plaza at Traditional Spanish Market.
Soon, this small group of artists— led by oil painter Edward Gonzales and supported by the late watercolorist/woodcarver Richard C. Sandoval and metal fabricator Bob Cooper, among others— began to feel limited by the confines of the Palace courtyard, just as they felt their creativity was being hobbled by the strict traditional criteria of Spanish Market. So Gonzales lobbied the appropriate committees, as well as the City Council, and convinced them that Lincoln Avenue off the Plaza would be an ideal place for an expanded Contemporary Hispanic Market. Nowmarking its 30th anniversary, Contemporary Hispanic Market has grown from the original 11 artists to 133 artists juried in 15 diverse categories.
Wide diversity of mediums
The categories include ceramics/pottery, fiber/textiles, precious and non-precious jewelry, glass art, watercolors, metalwork, mixed media, acrylic/oil painting, photography, sculpture, furniture, printmaking, pastels, woodworking and drawing. Winners are picked from each category, as well as Best of Show, Best of Fine Art, Best of Fine Craft, two First Time Exhibitor(s) and the Award of Excellence.
“None of the original 11 are still with us,” says Ramona Vigil-Eastwood of Albuquerque, president of Contemporary Hispanic Market since 2006 and a jeweler at the event for the past 25 years. “This is the third year without Edward Gonzales, but he always wanted the contemporary market to continue.” The event’s vice-president, Tony Fernandez, was an active volunteer with the original event in the Palace courtyard and now participates as one of the juried artists in the oil painting category.
This year all of the artists participating were required to re-jury into the event, the first time such an overall vetting measure has occurred in many years. “We want the artists to continue to produce good work,” says the 64-year-old Vigil-Eastwood, adding that there are going to be some new faces this year, while some of the familiar faces will be absent.
Besides the quality of their creations, artists who jury into Contemporary Hispanic Market are trusted on the honor system to be at least one-quarter Hispanic and residents of NewMexico. “If the question comes up, they must prove that they are Hispanic and NewMexico residents,” explains Vigil-Eastwood. “We have had to disqualify some of the artists in the past.”
One of the more intriguing additions to the contemporary event this year is the debut of Bo López, whose engraved, sterling-silver candlesticks were awarded the Best of Show prize in last year’s Traditional Spanish Market. Son of the award-winning Spanish colonial artist Ramon Jóse López, the Santa Fe silversmith has been a member of the traditional youth and adult Spanish Market since he was 6 years old. He joins his 33-year-old twin brother,
Miller López, who is a regular participant on the contemporary side. “I wanted more freedom with creative ideas to try something new,” he explains. “I like to push my limits as much as possible.”
Also joining López at Contemporary Hispanic Market for the first time will be another longtime Traditional Spanish Market entrant, santero Jacob Salazar, who has been showing his cedar-wood carvings at the youth and adult Spanish Market for the last 24 years— since he was 10 years old. “I opened it up quite a bit; I can do mostly anything now,” says the Albuquerque resident. “I’ve been trying to challenge myself.”
Salazar, who works in food services at an Albuquerque hospital during the day, describes himself as a third-generation artist who first watched his abuelo ( grandfather) carve; he died when Salazar was just nine. After his interest in carving was stoked, Salazar says his father and uncle began teaching him various technical skills. Like Bo López, Salazar also draws inspiration from a twin brother who is active in carving but does not show his work because of the demands of his career.
His 4-year-old son, Israel, has already taken an interest in carving and created a heart with a cross in the middle that won first place in the youth category last year at the New Mexico State Fair. “I hope (Israel) continues to carve, but if he doesn’t, that’s okay too,” says Salazar.
Vigil-Eastwood says the categories for this year’s group of artists will be judged and awarded by a group of people who have no affiliation with the event. The judging, which is closed to the public, will take place on Thursday, July 28, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The entries and winners will be available for public viewing at the convention center, free of charge, on Friday, July 29, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. There will be light refreshments, dancers and a piano player.