Santa Fe New Mexican


Mexican Great Masters

“People loved that slightly more controlled environment last year,” agreed Mann. “It gave them more time to really drink in the market, have in-depth conversations with the artists and build a more personal connection. And we will be maintaining other things that worked really well last year. One of those is the timed-entry component. If you’ve ever seen that miles-long line with people in the hot sun, we know it wasn’t the most fun. Instead, people will know exactly what time they are getting into the market.” Each ticket is for a firm entry time, and guests should be prepared to arrive a little before the start of their session. “We anticipate that each timed session will have about 500 guests to keep that more intimate feel,” said Murray. “And then in terms of ambience, we’re returning to a more vibrant but natural feel. We’ll really lean into our sustainability practices and rely on less one-time-use stuff. This is not new for us, but it will be more present at this year’s market.” One thing that is new for 2022 is the inaugural IFAM Night Market on Saturday, July 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. “The Night Market is really inspired by the night markets in Los Angeles, in Thailand, in those places where people come together to eat, drink, shop and be social,” said Murray. (See story, page 25.) The pared-down 2021 market had to forgo much of the entertainment that made the market lively, but in 2022 those features will be back, said Mann. “One of the things I’ve regretted most about last year is that we weren’t able to do drink, dance or food, with the public health situation being so uncertain and our budget being so tight. But this year we are bringing those back to the main stage during the entire market. In addition to the special group for Night Market, we’re really lucky because the Rotary Club has sponsored a Chilean dance group. We’re going to be featuring them on a number of occasions throughout the market. We’ve got other musical events coming in too. Being able to have dance, music and food is so important — those are all folk arts too.” Another thing that’s new is Mann herself, who stepped into the CEO role at the end of 2021. Asked what it’s been like to take the reins of an art market during these tumultuous times, she said, “First of all, it’s such an honor to fill [former CEO] Stuart Ashman’s shoes. He has such a finger on the pulse of New Mexico art culture, and such a long history here, that there are days it feels daunting to step into those very large shoes. Of course I miss him personally too, and the warmth that he has both for New Mexico and for the artists. What I want is to tap into that, to be sure we create a meaningful experience for the artists we serve and for the community. Because there’s no doubt this is an important event for the broader community.” IFAM’s tiny staff can only pull off such a massive event with the assistance of a team of helpers, Mann said. “One of the most amazing parts about this job is the volunteers. When I told you we now have a staff of seven, we also have more than 2,400 volunteers who sign up with us. To me that’s just such an unbelievable outpouring of goodwill and support.” These volunteers help at every level, sometimes even learning about the crafts so they can represent art at the market when an artist is unable to attend for any reason. “Those volunteers would stand in their booths, or unpack the boxes, or put price tags on, and then pack up and do a report every night,” Mann said. “The volunteers did such an amazing job that we had record sales last year.” Record sales at a scaled-down event during a pandemic is such a surprising twist that we have to linger on that a moment. “I don’t always like to characterize things in terms of sales, but given that we had just a little over 9,000 guests last year, given all the COVID controls, the artists had record individual sales,” said Mann. “I think that’s because of the personal connection we talked about earlier: artists were able to talk to people and explain the background of the art, and people came away with an experience as well as a piece of art. Sales are critical to artists always, but especially right now with the economic situation being so fragile. “One of the interesting effects this market has — and we hear this anecdotally over and over again — is that a market artist will make maybe 70 percent of their [yearly] income at this market in one weekend,” said Murray. “That’s so powerful. People take that money back to their communities, and they build schools or put in irrigation lines for their crops. It ends up having this ripple effect.” “I’m sure there was also some pent-up demand,” said Mann of the sales surge. “I’m sure we’re happy to be out and about together, but I think it’s never just a purchase. You really are affecting somebody’s livelihood and lifestyle, and their community, when you shop [at IFAM].” Stephanie Nakhleh is a freelance writer who grew up in New Mexico. Her work has appeared in many local publications. When not writing, she can be found gardening, cooking or finding new corners of the state to explore.