Santa Fe: Native Treasures and Artistic Pleasures

Even with its long days, summer is a season that simply seems to fly by. But here in Santa Fe, our numerous arts events prove summer has yet to reach its peak. I’ll be taking my vacation off-season and enjoying the great weather at home, because August is an amazingly artful month of can’t-miss experiences.

Indian Market
SWAIA Indian Market is the largest Native Arts festival in the country.

Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of Native art and culture. Baskets and beads, paintings and pottery, jewelry and clothing — all are part of an artistic legacy that grew from usage. And over time, these items grew more beautiful and desirable to collectors. SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market has history, too, and Santa Fe is primed for its 93rd appearance Aug. 18-24.

The whole town dresses up for this party. And even after years of attending, I can’t wait to show up in my finery. Seeing the crowd decked out in its silvery best sends any style-hound hunting for a Concho belt or dangly turquoise earrings.

Turquoise earrings come in every shade.
Turquoise earrings come in every shade.

The Market hosts artists from coast to coast so you’ll find both Penobscot baskets and Pueblo pottery. Haida carvings find a home near Hopi katsinas, and Navajo rugs and colorful paintings are also part of the mix. Bring your collector’s eye and you won’t be disappointed.

Meet a Native Art Star on the Page and in Person

One of the West’s most celebrated painters makes a special trip to Santa Fe during Indian Market. Kevin Red Star, a Crow native from Lodge Grass, Mont., delves deep into family experience and heritage to create contemporary works prized by collectors. One of the first students of the Institute of American Indian Arts, Red Star also received a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute.

Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available. “Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)
Imagine seeing a painting like this on your wall – this one is available.
“Dancers (The Red Star Brothers)” by Kevin Red Star (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

The experience provided exposure to political and social concerns that affect Native life and continue to inform his work. Red Star notes “I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”

Meet Red Star Aug. 20 at Collected Works Books where he will sign copies of the gorgeous new book Kevin Red Star Crow Indian Artist by Daniel Gibson and Kitty Leaken; all proceeds that day benefit SWAIA. An opening reception for Red Star’s new exhibit and another book signing are at Windsor Betts Gallery Aug. 22.

Get Familiar with IFAM

IFAM, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, sets down roots in the Santa Fe Railyard Aug. 21-23. This new festival runs concurrently with Indian Market, giving visitors double the reason to be in Santa Fe. IFAM’s mission is to provide exposure for artists whose work may not fit SWAIA categories or regulations. There are over 565 registered Native American nations and IFAM’s palette of participants includes a host of Canadian First Nations and indigenous Hawaiian artists. It’s no surprise that the artist list has grown quickly!

Kevin-Red-Star-by-Daniel-Gibson-Book-Cover
Between the historic pictures and the fascinating story, this is a book to cherish. (Photo Credit: Kitty Leaken)

And IFAM hosts a special event Aug. 21 called Red Star, Rising Star with — you guessed it — Kevin Red Star. Red Star is mentoring George Alexander, a young Muscogee artist, and together they’ll do a live paint accompanied by music from Brian Frejo. The resulting artwork will be raffled off and a book signing at the event both benefit IFAM. The Market runs both days 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with entertainment on the Railyard stage noon-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams Are a Perfect Pair

Speaking of indigenous Hawaii, I heartily recommend the O’Keeffe Museum’s killer exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe & Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures Exhibit. Both artists had a special connection to New Mexico, so pairing them makes sense, especially as they also shared a natural ability to let native flora create an authentic sense of place.

Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)
Georgia O’Keeffe always had an eye for beautiful trees. “Papaya Tree, Oil on Canvas,” collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art; Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum)

It’s amazing to think of O’Keeffe as a hired art-hand for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create ad illustrations in 1939. O’Keeffe’s compositional ability is always remarkable, and her tropical blossoms and landscapes offer a lushness that contrasts with her Southwestern works. Adams was also in Hawaii on commission; his 1948 government assignment was followed by a 1957 bank commission. Adams’ love of the outdoors and deep connection to the land are always at the forefront of his images and this stunning compendium is no exception. See this one before it closes Sept. 17.

Wrap Up Your Summer With Only-in-Santa-Fe Experiences

Summer’s beauty is far from over. And Santa Fe can prove it, with a bounty of treasures ripe for the picking. There’s no place like here to tuck an artistic rendering of colorful memories into your bag. When the arts of August arrive, just get here and let Santa Fe do the rest.

 

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