Editor’s Letter | Tradition & Change

Finding balance between the two in Santa Fe

By Kristin Hoerth

 The scene during Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM.

The scene during Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM.

This story was featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

I’m writing to you today from Santa Fe, NM, where the whirlwind Indian Market weekend is winding down. Just in case you’re not familiar with Indian Market, it’s the largest gathering of Native American artists in the country and has been held in Santa Fe for 93 years, since 1922. It draws tens of thousands of visitors to the downtown Plaza area. It also prompts a huge percentage of the local galleries to stage major shows on the same weekend, which is considered by many to be the climax of the season in one of the largest art markets in the country.

This year, for the first time, a rival event for 
Native American artists was held on the same weekend in Santa Fe’s Railyard arts district. The Indigenous Fine Art Market followed a similar format to that of the original Santa Fe Indian Market, welcoming artists from a variety of tribes who showed their artwork in rows of tents. And although this new event was smaller, there were plenty of well-known artists on the roster of participants.

The introduction of this new market has sparked lots of conversation in the community about the importance of tradition and the importance of change. Both concepts are complex when it comes to the art world, but they don’t necessarily need to be contradictory. The secret—as with so many things in life—is finding the right balance between the two.

As I was thinking about this need for balance during the weekend, I started to notice it playing out all around me. There was, for example, the annual show of new work by acclaimed artist John Nieto at Ventana Fine Art on Canyon Road. Nieto’s show has been a mainstay of the weekend for as many years as I can remember, and his work is among the most easily recognized in the Southwest. And yet I find that each year’s body of work contains new ideas and a few surprises.

There was also Nocona Burgess’ solo show at Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, also on Canyon Road. Burgess is a respected painter who has become known for his strong portraits of Indian chiefs from various tribes—but for this show he focused exclusively on women. At the opening reception, he told me that it was both daunting and thrilling to venture into such unknown territory. To me that seems like the right way to approach change in the face of longstanding tradition—to view it as equally challenging and exciting.

Featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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