Indian Week in Santa Fe includes a series of events in Native film, literature, music, fashion and visual art that lead to Indian Market weekend. Even though we knew the schedule, we misjudged the intensity of the participants and visitors.
We were both nursing upset stomachs on Saturday, so we missed the first of the two-day weekend. (Later we would realize that we may have missed 90% of the weekend instead of only 50%. More on that below.)
Even though we arrived just as the clothing contest, an Indian Market tradition, was beginning, there was a good crowd. All the chairs and much of the available standing space was occupied.
As you can see by the number of people in the audience with cameras (above and in the fifth photo below), this event is considered to be the most photographed event of Indian Market.
I then realized that the winners were heading to an area stage left that had been set up for media and other professional photographers. I thought I would have a better viewpoint there, so I headed to that location.
This was one photo that did not have a photographer's limb or equipment in some portion of the picture.
A manager-type fellow in a suit came along and quickly hustled the duo out of the area.
We then set about locating the booths of two artists we had come to see. We naively underestimated the Market's appeal.
"The Santa Fe Indian Market is a 90-year-old Native art market. It is the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world and the largest cultural event in the Southwest" (swaia.org/Indian_Market).
A large foldout map identified the locations of Frederica Antonio, Navajo (Diné) and Kevin Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo). Frederica's space was empty. She had sold all her beautifully decorated pieces of pottery on Saturday and had left early Sunday morning. Kevin had one small bowl with its intricate and detailed artwork on it left.
"For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Indian arts and cultures. Quality and authenticity are the hallmarks of the Santa Fe Indian Market" (swaia.org/Indian_Market).
A bit disappointed, we set out to discover the works of other accomplished artists.