Spanish Market

Welcome letter from David Setford

- BY DAVID SETFORD David Setford is the executive director of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, the nonprofit that organizes and hosts Spanish Market.

SCAS Staff and Board

Everyone at the Spanish Colonial Arts Society welcomes you to the 65th consecutiv­e Traditiona­l Spanish Market. We hope that you enjoy the works of art that you see so beautifull­y grouped around the Plaza and find something that you love to take home and cherish. You will truly be taking a piece of the history of New Mexico and the Southwest into your lives. But beware: For some people one piece is never enough!

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society was founded in 1925 with the mission “to preserve, promote and educate the public” about one of the world’s unique art traditions. The first actual market took place the following year, and it consisted of a sale of works on a few tables at the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts; it later moved to the portal of the Palace of the Governors.

Spanish Market gradually grew, but it was not strong enough to survive the Great Depression and the war years. Since the market was revived, it has taken its place annually on the historic Santa Fe Plaza the last full weekend in July. We have grown from barely 10 to more than 230 artists every year.

We are not the largest heritage market in Santa Fe — our friends at Indian Market have that distinct honor — and we have certainly been affected by the growth of other institutio­ns. When Folk Art Market started, it took place a month before us, but it now happens barely two weeks before Spanish Market, and this has gravely affected our fundraisin­g activities and volunteer base. Yet we continue to have a significan­t place in the culture of New Mexico.

This is not just because Spanish Market is a living, breathing historical tradition; it’s also due to our economic impact. Almost all of our artists are from New Mexico, so the money from their sales stays in the local economy rather than being siphoned off and sent to faraway places. Neither does the Spanish Colonial Arts Society retain any money from artists’ sales at market.

In addition, a 2012 survey showed that our 80,000 visitors spent $9 million on lodging and just over $26 million all told in greater Santa Fe. Nearly half of our visitors come from more than 50 miles away, and of those, nearly half are from out of state. We are very proud of those numbers and feel that not enough people realize the significan­t economic impact of Spanish Market.

Additional­ly, few people know that many of these artists are full-time profession­als — even those who do not rely on our markets to make ends meet and feed their families.

The traditions that they follow are time consuming. Often, like their forebears, they find natural materials such as aspen, piñon or pine to carve or paint; it has to be adzed to size, a laborious and skilled process. Many pigments are found the same way, in the environmen­t. Yarn and wool are gathered, spun and hand- dyed with natural earth pigments or plant-based hues. Our artists don’t purchase their materials; the traditions they follow are part of their history and the authentici­ty of what they produce.

Bearing all this in mind, how long does even a modest piece of colcha, or a small retablo, take to make? It varies, but certainly it takes many hours in total. So if you buy a work of art at market for $100 or $1,000, the price is probably a conservati­ve reflection of the time an artist has spent on that piece, most likely not earning much more than minimum wage. The faith and tradition behind it also make the artwork so much more meaningful than a factory-produced tourist item.

So we urge you to support our artists in whatever way you can. Help us to promote an essential element of the potent New Mexican “mix.” Go home with an authentic piece of New Mexico; buy local!

Finally, we would like to thank all our sponsors for their continued support of the Traditiona­l Spanish Market. These include The Santa Fe NewMexican, Garcia Automotive Group, City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, Heritage Hotels and Resorts, New Mexico True and the New Mexico Department of Tourism, New Mexico Arts, Century Bank, Los Alamos National Bank and all the businesses and private individual­s who sponsored booths at market. We could not have done it without all of you!

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