We have participated in Spanish Market for a very long time. Irvin’s first Market was in 1976, and Lisa started in 1982. It was under the two portals, at the Palace of the Governors and on the east side of the Plaza, on Old Santa Fe Trail. There are only a handful of us who go back that far. What it means, more than anything, is that Spanish Market has become a blur in our memories. We remember people we meet there kind of vaguely, even if we spent time engaged in fascinating conversation with them. I wish I could be better at remembering what happens at Market, but over the years have just come to let people know that if I talked to them at Market, my memory is bound to be just a blur. Short of writing down everybody’s names and taking snapshots of them, I don’t think I’m ever going to do any better. But I can give you a sense of what Market is like for us.
Preview Night – Preview night is the best time to catch up with artist friends, and with some of the stalwart collectors of Spanish Colonial art. It’s also a good time to get dressed up. I’m guessing that most of the artists don’t have lots of opportunities to put on fancy clothes, so this is kind of a treat for all of us. At least one of us has to be there at the end of the evening to pick up the pieces that we put up for judging. Irvin doesn’t much like all the socializing, so if he goes, it tends to be overly late. In recent years we got phone calls as the judging was in progress telling us that a ribbon would be ours. But this year it didn’t happen. So there was no obvious reason to go early. As it turned out, there were five ribbons on our pieces, all of the weaving ribbons there are to be had. But we missed the awards ceremony ’cause we were so late.
The awards this year were as follows – Saltillo Shroud – 1st place in Weaving, and the La Lana Wools award. Red Rio Grande – Jake O. Trujillo award and the 2nd place in Weaving. Vista – Honorable mention in Weaving.
So preview night is all about competition balanced with whatever camaraderie we feel as fellow artists/weavers. It’s safe to say that the balance shifts around from year to year. There is something awkward about competing with the people that you like and respect whether you win or lose. I’ve got years of experience competing with my husband, so I’m hyper-conscious of the problem. I like to say that I am a second class citizen at Market, but I guess that maybe all of us weavers other than Irvin have every right to feel that way. But at the end of the night we’re all left trying to figure out how to take our weavings down from the display that the Market volunteers have rigged up. We have had to find ladders or chairs and screwdrivers in recent years. This year we made do with chairs and a couple of tall men among our little group. We always work together to get out of there ASAP on preview night.
Early mornings on the Plaza – We were supposed to unload this year by 7:30 AM. This means getting up in the dark of a summer morning. Anybody who knows me knows that isn’t really my time of day. They seem to change up the schedule of who unloads at what time every year. And the people guarding access to the plaza are apparently very strict about late arrivals. So it was a very good thing I looked at the paperwork to check on it before we went to bed Friday night. The one good thing about those early mornings is that they are a great time to indulge in coffee. Lots of coffee.
People- The market floods with people on Saturday morning. Some years more than others, but this year was pretty good that way. From opening on, we talk to people. There are some occasional slow times, usually Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning while most of the artists are in a mass at the Basilica. Engaging in non-stop conversation all weekend long is absolutely exhausting for us introverted artist types. There are other generalizations I can make. a)There are a lot of people who talk to us every year at Market but who we never see otherwise. For the most part, I can’t remember their names. b) People from our distant pasts will show up. This always comes as a shock. c)We learn of people’s big life changes. Generally this stuff hits later on, well after the conversation we had at our table. Often it’s in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. d)Slow times are good for people watching. Santa Feans and tourists are both good for some relaxing entertainment. I prefer watching for pets, however. But dogs weren’t allowed on Saturday this year. They were there on Sunday. I have no idea why the rules changed, but I much prefer the canine additions to the parade going by.
Food – This is a big challenge for us. There are good food vendors just down the street from where we are. But we have a hard time getting there. So we are dependent on others to go get the stuff for us. This year Irvin’s restaurateur cousin brought us food. And it was wonderful. We have eaten at his restaurant a few times and it was delicious. But on Sunday afternoon he brought us the best burrito I had ever eaten. It was a green chile lamb chicharrone burrito. And it was heavenly! Now you have to go to Casa Chimayo and ask for one. Okay? You won’t regret it.
Weather – It often rains while we are at market. And it’s often pretty hot. So Saturday it was in the nineties. We were all unpleasantly sticky and felt a bit melted by the end of the day. (Note to self: never ever forget to bring a water bottle to Market.) And then on Sunday it rained. It was one of those really heavy monsoon rains with a little bit of hail and the rain at a serious angle. So I can tell you what happens when it rains at Market. Basically everything comes to a halt. Art gets covered with big plastic sheeting. Everyone goes under tents and portals and waits it out. They don’t shop where they’re at. For the most part they watch the rain in utter amazement.
The Load-Out – At the end of the day there are lines at the corners of the plaza with all our cars and trucks. We wait in line and all get to our booths eventually, where we load all our stuff into vehicles. But the part that terrorizes me every year is that I have to drive through big crowds of pedestrians. We go by the food booths all trying to get closed down, and then the intersection where the contemporary and traditional markets meet. All those pedestrians always make me nervous. I’ve never heard of anyone getting hurt during the load-out.
And the one thing that happened this year that was unlike other years. An obviously anxious lady came up to me to tell me that our display touching the walls of the Palace of the Governors was absolutely unacceptable and that it could get the Market kicked off of the Portal there forever. All of a sudden the display that we have used year after year was a terrible threat to the Market. It was rather disturbing. And there wasn’t much we could do about it at the time. We padded where it touched the wall and will design something freestanding for next year.
Re-hanging the shop- On Monday, we have to re-organize and re-think what goes where if we sold anything at all at Market. So it’s a day of assesment. And rest. It used to be that we would have some inevitable conflict, but nowadays we seem to have gotten much smoother at the process. Which is good because we are always exhausted. I have now had a really long night’s sleep to recover from Spanish Market weekend, and can relate this all to you.
That’s all the important stuff about Spanish Market I can think of.