70th anniversary




Santa Fe New Mexican

Going Platinum

[influence] from the Far East because Santa Fe was a hub of travel.” The many art influences “merged together to create a unique type of art,” she adds. The art categories shoppers find at the market encompass much of what was typical in homes and churches in the 17th through the 19th centuries, “with the variations that were introduced through those centuries,” Gillespie says. The art forms include colorful colcha embroidery with its classic long stitch. The retablo category, consisting of portraits of saints painted on flat surfaces, includes subcategories for carved reliefs and gesso reliefs. Bultos are painted, threedimensional wooden sculptures. Additional art forms include hide painting, ironwork, micaceous pottery and work with precious metals, such as filigree jewelry and silversmithing. Another category is tinwork. “Tin became big when the railroad started coming through,” Gillespie says. “Many products came in tin cans, so that’s when the sheet metal started being used.” New Mexican tinsmiths utilized that material to fashion frames for religious artwork and to create tin nichos to hold bultos. The craftspeople also made tin sconces, tin crosses and even small tin crowns for religious figurines. Other categories are straw appliqué, weaving, woodcarving, furniture and painted and unpainted reliefs. Revival arts include bone carving, leatherwork and ramilletes, which are multicolored floral garlands constructed out of scrap fabric and paper. To qualify for the market, “artists have to be deeply immersed in Spanish colonial culture,” Gillespie says, with many of them hailing from Northern New Mexico or southern Colorado. The artists must also be at least one-quarter Hispanic, with proof of their heritage. “They have to have really grown up in the tradition. There is so much of the faith, the culture in where they were raised. They have to be familiar with iconography, the stories behind various Catholic saints and of course the traditional materials they use.” The market’s artists often come from long lines of craftspeople, with older generations teaching their crafts to younger ones. “Many of the Hispanic artists were mentored by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, immersed in their heritage and faith and in the landscape rich with materials,” Gillespie says. “They became familiar with how to harvest the wool from their sheep, the dyes they produce, the wood they use for their bultos and retablos.” In 2021 SCAS renewed its former partnership with the living history museum El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the fruits of which visitors can see again at the 2022 market. “Golondrinas will contribute to an award for some of our art pieces at the preview,” Gillespie says. “They also will have their own booth at our market for demonstrations. They add so much to the market because they dress in period pieces, and their volunteers are terrific at mixing with the crowd and helping teach a little bit more about what both art and utilitarian practices were back in the day.” The market also partners with Los Maestros del Norte, a traditional arts program in Chimayó. The program hires teachers from SCAS to instruct children in traditional New Mexico folk arts, from woodcarving and weaving to colcha making and micaceous pottery. The group has a booth at the market. Gillespie, who helmed the market through the last two challenging years, says she looks forward to this year’s market especially. “I have gotten to know the artists and the artwork much more. I’ve just fallen for so many of the artists who have told me many of the stories behind their art and the faith that led them to be practicing this different kind of work.” The artists are also excited to return to something resembling their pre-pandemic market experiences. Gillespie says the artists are extraordinarily eager. “And the volunteers have come out of the woodwork to help out. Once we decided we’re committing to this, the community really pulled together to help the market happen, and I can’t thank them enough. It’s just a fantastic community of artists and volunteers.” Stephanie Nakhleh is a freelance writer who grew up in New Mexico. When not writing, she can be found gardening, cooking or finding new corners of the state to explore.