Exploring Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market 1

This past weekend, I visited Uzbekistan, Zambia, Cuba, Peru, Turkey, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mexico, Vanuatu, Bali, and Niger. In that order.  I munched on a crepe along the way and still made it home in time for an afternoon siesta.


I hopped on a shuttle bus to Museum Hill in Santa Fe and explored the International Folk Art Market (now the largest folk art market in the world), which this year hosted 170 master artists from 54 countries. There’s a sense of enthusiasm in the Market unlike any other event in Santa Fe – maybe because every year, some 40 percent of the artists are exhibiting for the first time. In fact, it’s the first time many of them have even ventured beyond the borders of their own home villages.

Here’s a gallery of photos!

According to the organization’s website: “The mission of the Market is to foster economic and cultural sustainability for folk artists and folk art worldwide and to create intercultural exchange opportunities that unite the peoples of the world.”

Let me interpret that mission statement for you. From the international foods, to dance and musical performances, to artist demonstrations, it’s simply a lot of fun to learn more about other cultures and find out that we have a lot in common after all.

I could go on and on about the Market, the amazing sales and marketing training they offer the artists, and the financial and moral support they give the nubies. But you can find much more information about their programs online.

For now, here are three things I thought you should know:

  • 1600 volunteers make the event possible. They serve as artists’ assistants and interpreters, and manage the hundreds of logistical details that let people like me enjoy every minute.
  • 90% of sales go directly to artists, averaging more than $17,000 per booth. The money benefits families and communities. Artists often use the money to bring food, electricity, clean water, health clinics, and schools to their villages. I mean, if ever you needed a way to justify some new art purchases, this is it!
  • It can get really crowded by late morning, and the best stuff goes fast. Consider paying the extra bucks for a ticket to the Friday night opening party, or Saturday morning “early bird” entry. It’s worth it!

Congratulations to all the artists who were selected for this year’s Market, and many thanks to everyone who helped bring the event to life. Good job! I’ll definitely see you again next year!

~ Elaine



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