29.04.2021 RC Studios

Santa Fe Indian Market (SWAIA) Falls Short While Santa Fe Free Indian Market Rises to the Challenge

This past year has affected the art world beyond what we have ever imagined or experienced. Artists were among the first to be deemed non-essential. Museums closed. People who made their livelihood through art found completely unrelated jobs, or relied on government assistance to put food on their tables. Creative spirits have been pummeled because of the pandemic, but life is slowly improving. 

Indian Markets are back! Santa Fe, New Mexico boasts the ‘largest, and most prestigious Indian art show in the world.’ It has historically taken place the weekend following the third Thursday in August for the past hundred years. This year, it is scheduled for August 21-22, 2021. In 2020, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) canceled their live show, and put on a virtual show for select artists. This year, SWAIA is hosting both live and virtual shows. 

Good for SWAIA for going live again, but are their plans good for the artists and patrons? Booth numbers have been cut from 750 to 500. Participating artists will pay booth fees of about $700.00 to exhibit their work for two days, when most haven’t worked for over a year. Also, SWAIA wants to fence-in the plaza, and surrounding streets, charge admission to the event, and limit ticketed attendance to two hour blocks. 

How will the artists, shop owners, and restauranteurs, receive the news that booth fees remain high, admission will be ticketed, crowds will be limited, and time limits must be observed if you want to walk the plaza, and shop during Indian Market? It might turn out to be a profitable venture for SWAIA. 

There is also a Santa Fe Free Indian Market (FIM) the same weekend. It is free for artists, free for patrons, and has an all volunteer staff.  FIM’s artist outreach, and initiative in assuring a safe and successful show for both artists and patrons makes FIM the ‘go to’ market this year.

The Free Indian Market is produced by Gregory Schaaf, PhD, and will be held at the Scottish Rite Temple, and adjacent historic Federal Courthouse Park. It is within walking distance from the plaza, just two blocks North, on Washington and Paseo de Peralta. You can also expect to see 500 booths at this show. Admission is free, and you are encouraged to leisurely shop, and visit with your favorite artisans at your own pace. 

Many artists are previously honored SWAIA participants. Their awards include: Best of Class, Best of Division, Best of Show, Living Treasures, and Lifetime Achievement awards. Artists are thrilled to enjoy a complimentary booth, get back to the business of selling their indigenous treasures to the public, and celebrate their culture with fellow artisans, and patrons. This has been a long time coming.  Producers of the Free Indian Market have been trained in COVID-19 precautionary practices, and are certified by the state of New Mexico as COVID-19 safe. Prepare to enjoy!

Hopefully, tickets to enter SWAIA’s market will be reasonably priced, and you won’t be limited to one two hour ticket. SWAIA is a dear old friend, and the Santa Fe Free Indian Market, established in 2019, is the enthusiastic ‘new kid on the block.’ There is definitely room for both markets, and if you need a break from the heat and the crowds, you can always find respite in your overpriced hotel room, pull out your electronic device, and visit SWAIA’s virtual show.  This year, we have choices!

Let’s celebrate our world through art!

Free Indian Market