The Art of Spanish Market 1965-2005
Since its incorporation in 1929, the mission of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society has been to collect, preserve, and exhibit the Spanish Colonial art of New Mexico and beyond, and to educate the public about its related cultures and living traditions. By 1929 the Society, informally founded in 1925, had already sponsored an annual Spanish Market for three years, the result of a commitment to support the artistic growth of Hispano artists working in traditional art forms, and, perhaps more importantly, to create a venue for marketing their work. After a hiatus beginning in the 1930s, Spanish Market was revived in 1965 and has been an annual event since that time. Held the last full weekend of July on Santa Fe's plaza, it is the largest exhibition and sale of Hispano arts in the country, attracting over 40,000 visitors who come not only to purchase work, but to celebrate the Hispano art and culture of New Mexico.
In 1965, there were 18 exhibitors: 5 woodcarvers, 5 embroiderers, 5 tinsmiths, 2 weavers, and 1 jeweler. Today, some 200 adult artists and 100 youth artists participate in the Market, and 34 first-place awards are given for artistic excellence, originality, and revival of historic art forms, among others. Over the years, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society has helped to not only create a market for the artists' work, but to educate the public and youth artists about the importance of these traditions and their role in shaping the unique cultural environment of New Mexico.
In the 1970s, the Society began in earnest not only to sponsor the market, but to purchase the work of contemporary artists working in the traditional arts to add to its important collection of Spanish colonial art. The Society, through its Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, continues to collect today, seeking artwork that demonstrates the spirit of the tradition as well as artistic and aesthetic excellence.