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Santa Fe Indian Market - What You Need to Know About the Santa Fe Indian Market


Autumn Borts-Medlock

Autumn Borts-Medlock Talks to Collectors at 6 a.m.

Copyright: Elizabeth R. Mitchell

About the Santa Fe Indian Market:

Each year the Santa Fe Indian Market includes 1,200 artists from about 100 tribes who show their work in over 600 booths. The event attracts an estimated 100,000 visitors to Santa Fe from all over the world. Buyers, collectors and gallery owners come to Indian Market to take advantage of the opportunity to buy directly from the artists. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Indian arts and cultures. Quality is the hallmark of the Santa Fe Indian Market. (Courtesy: SWAIA)

When is the Indian Market?:

The Santa Fe Indian Market is held annually in August. See the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) website for exact dates and a schedule of events.


Head for the Old Town Plaza. From I-25, take exit #282 onto St. Francis Drive. Go north until you hit West Alameda and take a right. Drive until you hit Sandoval and take a left. Once on Sandoval, taking a right on either San Franciso or Palace will eventually take you to the Santa Fe plaza. Be aware that during Market the plaza and many surrounding streets are closed to all but foot traffic. Parking is difficult. Shuttles are available.


There are food boths at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Enjoy corn, chiles and the traditional Fry Bread. Of course, Santa Fe is known for it's restaurants and if you want a sit-down meal, there will be great choices.


The Santa Fe Indian Market has a reputation for high quality Native American art. It is a juried show. Purchasing from juried markets such as this one ensures that your art is genuine Native American. It is exciting to purchase art directly from the artist. Often, they will take time to explain the symbolism in their art and tell you about how they made the piece.

If You Are a Collector:

I arrived at the Indian Market Saturday morning at 6 a.m. Already collectors had put their names down at some of the award-winning artists' booths. Once the artist has time to unpack their wares, they may give out numbers. When the market officially opens at 7am, those on the list get first pick of the artwork. I found that anyone interested in the better pieces had better get there Saturday morning. Some artists had sold out by noon!

Attending a Preview Event:

If you are a SWAIA member or purchase a ticket for the preview event (numbers are limited) you will have the privelege of seeing the pieces submitted for judging. And, lucky you... you will know who won best of class and best of show. It is an opportunity to see the works up close and strategize for your buying trip on Saturday. There is a silent auction, poster signing and other activities the Friday night of the preview. It is well worth the price of a ticket. Purchase through SWAIA.

Should You Attend if You Don't Have Tons to Spend?:

The answer is a definite yes! The Santa Fe Indian Market has something for everyone. There is food, free entertainment and an opportunity to puruse booths and talk with the artists. Many artists have very affordable pieces. The Best of Show winner, who does exquisite beadwork, had a pair of beaded miniature deerskin gloves sitting on his table next to the award-winning journals. A shopper asked how much they were. He told her they were $60. She snapped them up and had work from the top artist at the show! There are also Christmas ornaments, reasonably priced earrings and much more for the casual shopper.

Remembering Santa Fe - Posters and Art Prints:

Each time I visit Santa Fe for one of their glorious festivals, I hate to leave. One way to have a little piece of Santa Fe with me is to enjoy some Santa Fe art on my walls at home. Buy Santa Fe posters and prints at Art.com</a>">Framed and unframed Santa Fe posters and art prints.

Santa Fe Indian Market - Review and Recommendations from a First Timer:

It was my first time at the Indian Market. I had read up on the event, talked with some artists at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial and on the reservations, some of whom were going to attend. But, I still wasn't prepared for the quality of art that I would be seeing.

Preview if You Can
I started the weekend by attending the press reception and preview showing at the El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. I was able to see the works of art close up. I was amazed at the skill and creativity. There was both traditional art and "traditionally inspired" contemporary art. The winners were announced and ribbons presented.

Once the ticket holders were allowed to enter, they walked through the room, notepads in hand, writing down the art and artists that they hoped to buy from the next day.

It's Worth Getting Up at 4:30 a.m.
I had heard that the artists would set up early, collectors would be lining up even earlier and I was determined to witness the scurry for the award winning art. I was not let down. I walked from booth to booth looking for those with lines. At one booth, I saw a line of serious looking buyers. Artist Autumn Borts-Medlock arrived about 6 a.m. and started unpacking boxes of fantastic pottery. Once the table was set up and arranged, she pointed to a distinguished-looking gentleman, called him by name and asked him to make his selection. And, he did. It was the biggest and most exquisite pot. And, she took each person in turn for their selection. Each was thrilled to have the opportunity to add her work to their collection. As I stood there, I saw over $100,000 worth of art spoken for and it was barely 7 a.m.

Reommendations for Next Year
  • Make your hotel reservations as early as a year in advance. Try to stay in old Santa Fe so you can walk to festivities.
  • Save your money, bring cash or checks and plan to buy at least one piece of art at the Market. The hunt will make the weekend that much more fun.
  • Get there early. Before the Market officially opens at 7am on Saturday, many artists are set up. The best items go quickly. Make your decisions on Saturday morning.
  • Bargain hunters and risk takers may get something at a reduced price Sunday afternoon. But, believe me, the offerings will be picked over at this point.
  • Bring water, wear sunscreen and a hat. It can get hot and you can get sunburned very easily. Wear your walking shoes!
  • Make every effort to attend next year's Santa Fe Indian Market. It is a feast for the senses.

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