Indian Market is Santa Fe's biggest event of the year. Approximately 100,000 people come from around the world to see more than 1,200 artists from a hundred or so tribes. The rules for entry are strict and the quality, especially among the traditional arts, is high. The best quillwork, jewelry, pottery, baskets and other media are presented directly to the public by the artists.
It's also a blast. The Plaza is packed starting at six am on Saturday, the mutton and frybread are cooking and participants, buyers and those just looking are dressed to the nines.
And that's just the official scene. Around town, exhibits showcase Native American work that complements, challenges and critiques what's going on the Plaza. Native musicians come to Santa Fe, or get together with each other in a way unlike any other time of year. Here are just a few suggestions - the ultimate one is to wander around becoming part of the scene.
The legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree) will play as part of the Music on the Plaza series of free concerts. A Renaissance woman who has been an activist, musician, mother, and digital artist since the early 60s, Sainte-Marie will bring her passion to town. If you miss her downtown, she will also take part in the 14th Annual Native Roots and Rhythms at Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre at the newly-razed Indian School. (1501 Cerrillos Road, 4 pm on Friday, August 22 and 2 pm on August 23, call the Lensic Box office for tickets: 988-1234). The Mud Ponies, who only get together at Indian Market, will be playing at several clubs throughout the weekend. And don't fret; various musicians of all ages and genres will be making the party circuit.
If film is what sparks your interest, the eighth annual Cinema Showcase, is an official adjunct to Indian Market, sponsored by SWAIA and the Center for Contemporary Arts. Native Cinema Showcase will screen more than 25 works from the Arctic Circle to Brazil, directed by filmmakers from more than two dozen tribes and Native nations. The films celebrate the growing presence of Native cultures and indigenous media on the global stage, and explore issues of common concern to indigenous people worldwide. (For more info, see www.ccasantafe.org/cinema_fest_native.htm)
Ritual movement makes an appearance, too. "Ancient and futuristic, our dances are an elemental language of bone and blood memory in motion" self-describes Rulan Tangen and her dance troupe. Tangen will perform Spirit Walk, covered in clay and accompanied by a traditional drummer at 4 pm on Friday August 22. Tangen will proceed up Canyon Road from Paseo de Peralta.
Fritz Scholder's remarkable retrospective at the IAIA Museum (see Must See Art, July 15 - 31) reveals the power that he wields through several generations of Native American Art. Scholder, a quarter Luiseno, didn't identify with being Native American until his five years teaching at IAIA during the 1960s. His painterly renditions and re-workings of ethnic stereotypes revolutionized the young artists who began to work in a variety of styles, perspectives and subjects that challenged previous notions about "Indian Art."
Forty years later, IAIA alumnus Darren Vigil Gray continues the tradition of vigorous painterliness inspired by Scholder. Vigil Gray, once described as the "Golden Boy of the third generation of Native American Modernists," is branching out into more deeply abstract work. "Crossing the Dream" as he refers to it, reveals the strength and clarity of another world beneath paint-laden, tempestuous surface.
At Eight Modern on Delgado Street Vortex of Color: tapestries and works on paper by Ramona Sakiestewa opens on August 15 (231 Delgado Street, 5:30 - 7:30 pm). Sakiestewa, whose work over decades as an advocate and practitioner for Native American art has earned her international regard, is evolving anew with brilliant hues saturating fluid boundaries. Luminous colors move through the meticulously woven textiles, confounding us with the disparity between abstract, loose shape and dense, hand-worked textile.
Eleven artists who "challenge preconceptions about Native identity whether seen through their own personal lens or through the lens of outsiders to Native culture" are combined in the exhibition: Without Limits at Chiaroscuro (439 Camino del Monte Sol, reception, August 22, 5 -7 pm). With artists spanning several generations - the late Harry Fonseca to the twenty-five year-old Rose B. Simpson, genres - Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano's traditional vessels to the street-inspired canvases of Yatika Starr Fields, and themes-mixed-media artist Kade Twist's consideration of language and identity to Rick Bartow's gestural exploration of internal transformation-the range of creative voices is wide.