Category Archives: Traditional Spanish Market

59th Traditional Spanish Market To Be Held July 24 and 25, 2010

Spanish Market street scene

The 59th Traditional Spanish Market will be held on July 24 and 25, 2010 on the Santa Fe Plaza. This popular event celebrates the vibrant Hispanic culture of Northern New Mexico, both past and present. Visitors are provided with a unique opportunity to purchase a dazzling array of Spanish Colonial art works produced by over 200 traditional Hispanic artists, sample mouth-watering regional food specialties, attend art demonstrations and workshops and enjoy continuous live music and dance entertainment.  A separate youth exhibition area will line the side streets just off the Plaza and will feature the work of some 100 emerging artists. This is the oldest and largest Hispanic market in the United States. Admission is free.

For more information about Spanish Market contact the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art  at 505-982-2226 or  e-mail

Glossary of terms used, and art forms found, at Spanish Market

  • Santos – originally produced in New Mexico between the 1700s and late 1800s, these are depictions of religious figures in the forms of bultos (three dimensional wood carvings) and retablos (paintings on wooden panels).  Most materials used to make santos were indigenous to New Mexico: pine, cottonwood root, gypsum, pinion sap, yucca fibers and horse and human hair for paintbrushes, and natural home-ground pigments made from the vegetation, clays, ocres and minerals. Although New Mexico became part of the Republic of Mexico in 1821, it still remained isolated from the outside world. Consequently, most New Mexicans artists in the nineteenth century were self-taught or apprentices who learned from their local masters.   Santos played an important part of the religious lives of New Mexicans in the colonial period.   Retablos and bultos adorned local churches and families had private devotional altars graced with Santos. Santos convey the spirit of Hispanic New Mexico through their unique style, traditional Catholic subject-matter and the materials used to create them.
  • Straw Appliqué – crosses, chests and boxes decorated with applied wheat straw and corn husks which are adhered to the wood with resin.
  • Textiles – hand-woven on looms using handspun and vegetable dyed yarns
  • Tinwork – decorative and utilitarian objects of cut and punched tin.  Frames, mirrors, switchplates, candle holders, sconces, mirrors and crosses are examples of tin art. Tin art, especially in religious form, began to flourish after the United States Army occupied New Mexico in 1846 and the appearance of imported tin cans. 
  • Furniture – usually made from pine using mortise and tenon joints
  • Embroidery – unique regional embroideries employing the colcha stitch which was used for centuries to embellish priest garments, altar cloths and coverlets and produces rich and colorful textiles and tapestries
  • Ironwork – tools, fastenings, and household objects forged from iron
  • Precious Metals – silver or gold jewelry, utilitarian and devotional objects
  • Pottery – hand-sculpted bowls, pots, and other ware made from micaceous clay
  • Bonework – decorative items, anillos (rings) and tool handles carved from bones
  • Ramilletes – decorative paper garlands
  • Basketry – baskets handwoven from red and brown river willow

Retablos at Spanish Market

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society screens all of the artwork shown at Spanish Market for authenticity and requires that all artwork be handmade by artists practicing their craft in the context of their community.  Some families are represented by three or four generations

For more about the art you can see at Spanish Market visit the Collectors Guide.

History of Spanish Market

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society first sponsored Spanish Market in 1926 and continued to hold it until the mid-1930s.  In 1965 the Spanish Colonial Arts Society revived Spanish Market, which was held in conjunction with the annual Indian Market until 1972.  In 1973 Spanish Market became its own distinct event taking place on Santa Fe Plaza during the last full weekend in July. 

Since 1985 Contemporary Hispanic Market has been held at the same time as, and in conjunction with, Spanish Market.  It is sponsored by El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe and is located northwest of Santa Fe Plaza along Lincoln Avenue.   In 2009 Contemporary Hispanic Market showcased contemporary fine art such as photography, weaving, glass work, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, textiles and mixed media from over 130 artists.  For more information call (505) 992-0591 or e-mail  


Grand Prize, Best of Show Winner - 2002 Federico Prudencio, Spanish Hope Chest

The Society honors artistic excellence at Spanish Market by awarding prizes and purchasing outstanding works of art for its collection.  Its grand prize, first prize and other special awards recognize distinctive skill and innovation in various media.   The Society’s collection of more than 3500 objects is housed at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, 750 Camino Lejo (Museum Hill) in Santa Fe.   The collection includes Spanish Colonial art forms spanning four centuries and four continents.

Insider’s Tip

On Friday, July 23, 2010 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm the Spanish Market Preview takes place at the Santa Fe Convention Center for members only.  Be the first to see this year’s Spanish Market art and meet the artists.  Early Preview starts at 6 pm for upper level members ($300 – $5,000).  General Preview starts at 7 pm for all members.  Memberships are available at the door.

Food at Spanish Market

Vendors offer Spanish Colonial and Northern New Mexican specialties such as carnitas, carne adovada, stuffed sopaipillas, chile rellenos, fajitas, tamales, empanaditas, chile stew, taquitos, burritos, enchiladas and tacos.