Friday, July 30, 2010

Live from the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Sitting in my living room in Santa Monica, I was browsing through the Oprah magazine one afternoon, when my eyes fell on an article on the upcoming International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM. Since then life has not been the same. I checked out their website and right then and there decided this was something I want to be a part of. In a few weeks it was all finalized, I was going to be one of the 1,569 volunteers at the Market.

My two hour direct flight from LA to Santa, Fe took me to an airport the size of a restaurant. As I stepped into the city I knew no better of its rich culture and exquisite art background. In a matter of few hours I was blown away by its beauty, art and rich heritage. The people are warm and friendly and willing to go out of the way to help.

6:30 am July 9th, I checked into the volunteer booth and had butterflies in my stomach. I spent the next few hours setting up “booth 72”. I was going to be an Artist Assistant for an Indian weaver “Shyamji” from the village of Bhuj in Gujarat. A fine artist, shyamji has been in the business of making hand-woven stoles, scarves and shawls for centuries now. This is his traditional family business being handed down from one generation to another. He and 16 of his family members work on dying, weaving and completing unique, colorful and beautiful pieces of fabric.

This was Shyamji’s first time at this fair which was hosting 170 artists from 51 countries.
The focus of this market is on the numerous and remarkable artists' cooperatives. Half of the participating artisans are new to the market, and their work was selected for its authenticity, quality, and marketability. The market keeps 10% of the artist sales and the artists keep the remaining 90%. This year the artists were hoping to have a sale of $15,000 on average over the three days.

The Market open first to a handful of collectors who donate $5000 and above to the organization. These are the ones who are quick to pick up the best and the dearest pieces at display. Then roll in another group of early buyers who pay $125 and are the ones who like to take a first cut at what’s on display. Come Saturday and Sunday, the market is flooded with thousand’s of buyers’ hungry for the art at display. Last year we had a good 23,000 shoppers and this year saw even more.

As an artist assistant I helped Shyamji not only interpret but also showcase, sell and promote his wonderful talent. We had buyers from all country’s, ethnicity and religion. People bought scarves and shawls not only to adorn themselves but also to use it as table runners, table cloths and bed-spreads. Some ladies even suggested using those as Sarongs. Our pieces were all hand-woven and varied between cotton, silk and wool. For the Artist’s Choice Shyamji chose a beautiful hand-woven shawl in pastel colors which took him 2 months to make. Prices ranged from $35 - $300 a piece.

By the weekend the market was buzzing with people pouring in from everywhere. There were food stalls to feed the hungry shoppers. Volunteers worked around the clock. Performances from various countries including Oman, kept the people entertained. Whether it was the kutch work from India or the Cuban paintings, people grabbed exquisite pieces of art and hunted for deals.

The 36 hours spent in Santa Fe has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I came home richer not only in the wonderful paining and other gifts that I brought but also in friends I made at the event. The hospitality, warmth and generosity of the people living in NM definitely make sure I visit it again. So all you folks out there if you are looking for something to add color in your life and enrich your artistic skills, the International Folk Art Market is the place to be.

I would like to share some pictures I took at the market. Here is the link to the same:


Laura Sullivan said...

So wonderful to hear about your positive experience at the Folk Art Market-- I work for the Market-- may we use some excerpts as a testimonial on our website or any of our marketing/ communications material?

Shruti said...


Absolutely, please feel free to use whatever you like. I simply loved the market and would like to spread my positive experience around.