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September 2014

I just returned from my annual trip to Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As usual, it was WONDERFUL!
The buildup to Indian Market was a 7 day loop starting out from Albuquerque and driving the San Juan Skyway from Durango to Silverton to Ouray to Telluride and Mesa Verde in Southwestern Colorado. Each day involved just 3 to 4 hours of driving leaving lots of time to stop along the way to visit the old mining towns of the high country and enjoy the amazing vistas. I have spent a lot of time around the Front Range of the Rockies near Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs; hiking, backpacking and horse packing up behind Pikes Peak in the Tarryalls; a summer living in Aspen long before the area was taken over by billionaires and Hollywood; and skiing Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Vail, and Copper Mountain. I was blown away by the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado! The area is called the Switzerland of America for good reason. The mountains are jagged, imposing and gorgeous in a very different way. The old mining towns of Silverton and Ouray and the remains of the mining districts up in the high country are something you have to see to believe. Telluride has maintained its mining heritage and character in a stunning backdrop of a box canyon with towering peaks. Mesa Verde is one of my favorite places to visit. Many of the ruins are easily accessible with lots of backcountry to explore on day hikes. Mesa Verde is considered to be the homeland of the Pueblo Tribes along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Spending time there is a great way to understand the history of many of the artists I represent.
Our first few days in Santa Fe were quiet. As the week progressed towards the weekend of Indian Market, the collectors arrived in town and the energy began to build! Each night featured gallery openings full of amazing Native Art from around the United States. Restaurants were booked and the excitement was palpable. On Friday night, there was the preview of the winning pieces that have been entered by some of the 1100 Native artists juried into Market. It is so exciting to see who has won Best of Show. The competition categories range from jewelry, pottery, carvings (Kachinas, fetishes), sculpture, painting, photography, weaving to beadwork. Each category is subdivided by style and technique. The array of amazing talent is always a thrill to see.

This year’s winner of Best of Show was Lola Cody (Navajo) with a gorgeous huge Two Gray Hills Navajo Rug that took two (2) years to complete. Lola raised and sheared the sheep and hand spun the wool for this amazing work of art. All the wool is the natural color of the sheep. She then set up a traditional Navajo up-right loom to weave on. Keep in mind, there is no pattern when a weaver starts, it is something that comes to them as they begin the process. So every pattern in the rug is changed or repeated as it develops. It is truly an incredible art form.
As the first day of Market dawned on Saturday, collectors were out early (some wait at the booth of artists that are highly collectible from 4 a.m. or earlier just to get the pick of a collection!). It was still dark and cool in the high mountain air of Santa Fe. Watching the scene unfold as artists set up their booths; people streaming up to the Plaza from their hotels; and, everyone waiting to see what fabulous pieces of work are laid out are all part of the excitement! As the sun began to warm the Plaza and surrounding streets filled with booths of artwork, the crowd swelled to over 100,000. It is the only place I would attend with that many people. Everyone is happy to be there. For those of us who attend every year, it is a pilgrimage of great satisfaction. Everyone has on fabulous jewelry collected for decades and it is so easy to make new friends by asking about a piece someone is wearing.
And the pinnacle of the whole experience is speaking with all the top Native American artists and their families. I always enjoy catching up with artists I have become friendly with over the years and meeting new ones. It is truly a homecoming for all of us. This year, the weather was perfect in the 80’s with sunshine. Sunday brought out the locals after the rush of Saturday’s collectors. At the end of the weekend everyone is tired, hopefully successful in their sales and purchases and already planning for next year. Hotel reservations are made for next year before you leave to go home. You have wonderful memories, new friends and great Native art to take home with you and remind you all year long about what a special event Santa Fe Indian Market is every year!
Here are a few photos of the variety of Native American Art from Indian Market 2014:
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