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Santa Fe Indian Market: Where Native art meets the world

SANTA FE, N.M. - The Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest and oldest juried Native art show in the world, will be held Aug. 18 - 19 in Santa Fe. Established in 1922, the market includes 1,200 Indian artists representing 100 tribes and attracts more than 100,000 visitors, according to a press release. The nonprofit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts is the market's sole support.

This year's market features creations of some of the most exciting traditional and contemporary Native artists in the nation. Marketgoers may view and purchase handcrafted jewelry, paintings, drawings, graphics, photography, sculpture, pottery, carvings, textiles, basketry, and bead- and quillwork. In addition, artists will demonstrate their work on-site, giving the public a rare opportunity to watch artists in the process of fashioning breathtaking pieces of Native art.

Festivities begin Aug. 17 at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe with a press preview of this year's winning art pieces. Best of show announcements will follow immediately. Collectors will enjoy meeting the show's top award-winners while viewing their creations. Only 100 tickets will be made available for this exclusive event, according to SWAIA's Web site.

The annual sneak preview of award-winning artwork and silent auction for corporate members will then take place. These special fund-raising events permit a first opportunity for collectors to view winning pieces, from honorable mentions to best of shows, and to bid on unique donated art. To enhance the excitement, Marvin Oliver, creator of this year's market poster, will be on hand to sign prints.

The art show will begin Aug. 18. In addition to art and demonstration booths, it will feature traditional food vendors, a youth market and a variety of cultural entertainment.

While marketgoers are welcome to bring picnic lunches, those who do will miss a unique opportunity to sample a wide variety of American Indian culinary delights. Authentic Native foods from a number of Southwestern tribal traditions will be available. Past menu selections included such dishes as fresh roasted corn, grilled mutton sandwiches with green peppers and onions, squash and corn stew, blue corn atole and pancakes, lamb stew with handmade noodles, and frybread with red or green chilies.

In addition to the days' market activities, an evening auction gala will convene at Santa Fe's La Fonda Hotel. Collectors in attendance will be given an opportunity to bid on pieces of collaborative art.

Ten master Indian crafters created the first piece, a concho belt titled ''Over 50 and Fabulous.'' The museum-quality belt is a one-of-a-kind creation of skill and vision. Contributing artists include Martine Lovato, Santo Domingo Pueblo; Gibson Nez, Navajo; Richard Chavez, San Felipe Pueblo; Naveek, Navajo; Jake Livingston, Navajo; Jennie Vicenti, Zuni Pueblo; Harvey Begay, Navajo; Victoria Adams, Southern Cheyenne; and Michael NanaPing Garcia, Pascuq Yaqui.

A second item to be auctioned is a custom-designed, 15-foot-long, flame engulfed, low-slung, V-Twin Softail chopper, built by famed ''Godfather of Choppers'' Mondo Porras of Denver's Choppers in Nevada and donated by Elizabeth Stiers.

To lend a Native touch to the bike, Dineh artist Cody Sanderson created a sterling silver ''back-off'' buckle and an expandable ''solar flare'' bracelet. Fritz Casuse, Dineh, created a sterling silver, turquoise and peridot key chain. Dallin Maybee, Arapaho/Seneca, created hand-beaded gauntlet gloves to match the bike; and Ken Williams, Arapaho/Seneca, fashioned a ''handlebar'' bag with flames and the SWAIA logo, worked in satin ribbon, horsehair and dentalium shells.

Other items include jewelry, sculpture and paintings.

The SFIM also hosts a Youth Indian Market. According to Staci Golar, SWAIA public relations coordinator, while many youngsters exhibit their art alongside their parents at the show, the Youth Market was created in 1993 to provide an opportunity for youth 17 years or younger whose parents are not exhibitors, to exhibit and sell their artwork and compete for prizes.

In 2003, SWAIA began awarding fellowships, ranging from $250 to $500, to young Indian artists who participated in the SFIM. These fellowships are awarded on the basis of creativity and future goals. Winners may use their awards to buy supplies, enroll in classes or other artistic purposes.

Another unique event is the annual Native American Clothing Contest, a fun competition featuring the finest examples of traditional and contemporary Native fashion design. Traditional clothing entries are categorized by region, while fanciful creations of modern Indian designers are judged for their contemporary value.

Golar, who said that many artist-participants report that one-third to one-half of their annual income is derived from this two-day show, believes SFIM provides a critical service. ''This is an excellent way for Indian artists to have their work viewed by more people in two days, than they could in a year,'' she said. ''We don't take a percentage; we are here to help Indian artists support themselves.''