Spanish Market

Spanish Market Is “New Mexico True”

A look at the event’s sponsor, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society.

- By ArinMcKenn­a

Spanish Colonial Arts Society (SCAS) executive director David F. Setford contends that Spanish Market epitomizes “New Mexico True,” the New Mexico Tourism Department’s tagline.

“If people are really interested in ‘New Mexico True,’ then this really is New Mexico True. This is part of the heart and soul of New Mexico, these traditions, this culture,” Setford says. “It’s not the only one, but it’s one of the really important ones. And that’s what the market does. It keeps it alive and it keeps it in people’s minds and it educates them about it.”

SCAS has been instrument­al in keeping artistic traditions alive since 1926, when it initiated the first Spanish Market. Setford notes that even then, New Mexican Hispanic culture — which dates back to the arrival of the first Spanish colonists in 1598 — was one of the lures for early-20th- century tourists, just as it is today. The market went into hiatus during the Depression and World War II but is now celebratin­g its 66th continuous year since it was reinitiate­d in 1951.

According to Setford, this is the largest Hispanic art festival in the country. SCAS estimates that the 2016 market set a record with 95,000 visitors.

SCAS also hosts winter markets in Albuquerqu­e and Las Cruces. All three markets spotlight every element of Hispanic culture — visual arts, music, dance and food — and include educationa­l elements such as lectures and hands-on art experience­s for local schoolchil­dren. Setford stresses the authentici­ty of this art. Strict standards require adherence to methods and materials the artists’ colonial ancestors used. Market artists gather plant and mineral pigments and indigenous wood in the countrysid­e, then adz or carve the wood to the needed shapes and create paints from the pigments. They mix gesso from rabbit-skin glue and gypsum.

“These are the same working methods that were common in the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries,” Setford notes. “And that’s what makes these such an amazing representa­tion of living history and what is important.”

When people complain about prices for these original artworks — comparing them to the cost of inexpensiv­e replicas — Setford replies, “There’s no connection to history. There’s no connection with the culture. There’s no connection to what’s important to New Mexico if you do that. You’re just buying something that’s been created in a huge tourist workshop or maybe even printed by a machine.

“What’s really important are the things that connect us to our roots and how we got here and who we are and that make us bigger rather than smaller. And I think that’s what this work does.”

New artists refresh the pool

The youth market — which Setford calls the market’s “spiritual center” — is one of the key initiative­s for keeping traditions alive. Two youth market artists, Skylar Valdez and Nicolas Turk, both juried into the adult market this year. New artists also help keep the market vital. This year SCAS welcomes nine new artists and four reentering artists, juried into eight categories.

Market director Maggie Magalnick is especially excited to have a new artist in the copper engraving category. Since the category was initiated in 2012, only Ramón José López (who researched and advocated for the new category) and Joseph Chavez have participat­ed in the discipline. This year Lillian Padilla Autio joins their ranks.

Magalnick urges market-goers to visit new artists on Palace Avenue and San Francisco Street, in front of the New Mexico Museum of Art and La Fonda, respective­ly. “It’s very exciting to see those who are coming up into market, as well as, of course, our masters and our youth who are on the Plaza itself,” Magalnick says.

Eleven establishe­d artists are also expanding into new categories. Potter Alfred

Blea, for example, is branching out into ironwork. Carlos Santisteva­n Sr. — who works in several categories — has now juried into furniture and furnishing­s, as has reentering artistManu­el Trujillo.

This year’s most important change is a new venue for the Friday night preview, which will be held at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (in the Santa Fe Railyard at 555 Camino de la Familia). There, artists will have more than 10,000 square feet to exhibit the pieces they submit for judging. Since collectors line up at booths before 8 a.m. Saturday to purchase award-winning pieces, the preview may be the only opportunit­y to view some of the best art at the market. Magalnick points out that the Rail Runner train will deposit Albuquerqu­e residents just a few hundred feet from the preview location.

NuestraMús­ica lives

SCAS has also taken over as organizer for Nuestra Música. This annual celebratio­n of New Mexican Hispano folk music was founded in 2001. When Enrique Lamadrid and Jack and Celestia Loeffler recently decided to retire as organizers, SCAS stepped in. The show now becomes one of the pre-market ¡Viva La Cultura! events, held at the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand from 6 to 9 p.m. on July 27.

SCAS was one of the original co-partners in creating the event. “So it makes all the sense in the world for us to take it up,” Setford said. “We wanted to make sure that that tradition endured, because it’s the music of the people, and we felt it was something the community did not want to lose.”

Antonia Apodaca y Trio Jalapeño are among the Nuestra Música performers. The 93-year- old Apodaca is a bundle of energy who always delights audiences. Other performers include Robert Martinez, Cipriano Vigil y Familia and Orquesta Lone Piñon.

Other ¡Viva La Cultura! highlights include tours of the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project and open studio tours with Spanish Market artists. On July 29 the Santa Fe School of Cooking holds its annual Spanish Market Class (reserve in advance), which is a green chile workshop this year. Both Mesa Prieta and the School of Cooking donate part of their proceeds to SCAS. (For details see “Schedule of Events.”)

Bandstand entertainm­ent during the market itself is always a big hit. This year’s performers include Cuarenta y Cinco, a group known for its high-energy dance music, and EmiArteFla­menco, featuring La Emi and Vicente Griego.

Attendees can also enjoy traditiona­l foods at the Washington Avenue food court. Those who want to learn more about New Mexico Hispanic culture can browse the book tent sponsored by University of New Mexico Press.

SCAS is also upping the market’s social media presence, regularly adding artists’ rumination­s about why they participat­e, along with photos of them and their work, to the SCAS Facebook page. Those who “like” the page can receive live updates during this year’s market.

Frieda Kahlo at MoSCA

Make time to visit the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (MoSCA, at 750 Camino Lejo, 505-982-2226), which hosts Mirror, Mirror: Photograph­s of Frida Kahlo. The exhibit traces Kahlo’s journey from a self-possessed adolescent to a passionate wife and lover, independen­t artist, fashion icon and object of cultlike reverence through 50 images by outstandin­g photograph­ers, including Lola and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Carl Van Vechten and Nickolas Muray. The exhibit also includes works inspired by Kahlo’s career by Spanish Market artists working in the innovation­s category.

A lecture series hosted by David Setford and Penelope Hunter- Stiebel, will be held in conjunctio­n with the exhibition at the Udall Center for Museum Resources (725 Camino Lejo). “Frida and Feminism,” presented by Tey Marianna Nunn, will be held Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.; “Frida’s Intimate Friends, Iconic Artists,” presented by Carolyn Kastner, will be held Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. Admission to each lecture is $20 for nonmembers and $10 for MoSCA members. For details call 505-982-2226.

According to Setford, exhibits such as Mirror, Mirror advance the society’s mission to explore Spanish colonial art — both contempora­ry and historic — from inside and outside New Mexico. “We wanted to show how the Spanish colonial tradition goes in many different directions,” Setford says. “Frida was in Mexico, not in New Mexico (though she did visit Santa Fe several times), but she was so influenced by the Spanish colonial tradition. She has taken the influence of Spanish colonial retablos and she’s done an update on that.”

For further details on either SCAS or Spanish Market, visit spanishcol­

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