International Folk Art Market returns to Santa Fe

New Mexico event comes back after cancellation during pandemic year


As we contemplate possibilities for summer travel, some readers will be heading south to that favorite destination: Santa Fe, New Mexico. And perhaps some of those will want to visit IFAM, the International Folk Art Market.

It didn’t happen last year, but all artists accepted for IFAM 2020 were invited to participate in 2021, when Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market will be held at the Milner Plaza on Museum Hill — for two weeks: July 7 to July 11 and July 14 to July 18, with different artists each week — and in keeping with COVID safe practices.

Tickets are sold at two-hour intervals and in some cases, are sold out, so we wanted to caution readers who plan to attend to visit in advance for information and reservations.

My memory of visiting this very special event is of just showing up and that’s not workable this year ... a maximum of 200 guests at a time will be able to visit the area. (And you’ll definitely want reservations for a place to sleep, as well.)

Started in 2004, the IFAM has hosted 950 master folk artists from 94 countries across six continents and generated $26 million from artist sales, 90% of which has gone home with artists and their organizations — a really strong feature, I feel.

The nonprofit organization has offered workshops for visiting artists and their representatives and cooperated with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs over the years it has operated. In recent years, IFAM has opened a retail store at 620 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, adding to the extensive choices one finds there, especially in the folk art category and from the skilled Indigenous artists who sell their handmade wares near the Plaza.

Among first-time artists, we are told of Gary Gonzalez, of Taller Centro Artesanal Del Sombrero Wayuu (Colombia), who brings hats and Julio Laja Chichicaxtle, of Manteles Borados Otomi Hechos A Mano (Mexico) who will bring textiles ...

I was intrigued to read about Cuban folk artist Cenia Gutierrez Alfonso, who is known as a painter of guijes, or fairies.

What delightful images for a child’s room — or a grownup’s study or living room!

Alfonso is quoted: “It is about materializing dreams, reflecting the world that surrounds me, where urban and rural life intermingle ...”

This market is just one facet of visiting Santa Fe, of course, but offers a sweet time in a world of creatives, who offer color and imaginative ways with many materials, resulting in products that simply make us happy. Or, of course, if selected as a gift for another person, should brighten a table, corner, wall or shelf.

Contemplating the 2021 IFAM reinforces my respect for art that shows something about the hands that made it.

A very special kind of beauty.


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