Professor launches alternative to Indian Market

By Joseph Ditzler
Posted 6/21/18

A supporter of Native American art is organizing an alternative event for artists who weren't invited this year to the Santa Fe Indian Market. Gregory Schaaf, …

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Professor launches alternative to Indian Market


A supporter of Native American art is organizing an alternative event for artists who weren't invited this year to the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Gregory Schaaf, a retired professor of Native American history, said he's renting the ballroom and other space in the Scottish Rite Center on Paseo de Peralta during the same weekend as the annual Indian Market, held Aug. 18-19 on the Santa Fe Plaza by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.

Schaaf said 68 artists are committed to showing their work at the Scottish Rite Center.

He said he's counting on volunteers to help defray costs.

"We have to do everything we can to minimize the direct costs and maximize the direct assistance we provide to the artists," he said. "We want to make sure all their needs are taken care of."

Robert Tenorio, a Kewa Pueblo,also known as Santo Domingo Pueblo, pottery maker and recognized master of his art, was wait-listed for this year's Indian Market. At the SWAIA membership meeting in May, he said he felt disappointed in not being invited. He was eventually offered a booth by SWAIA, he said last week, but preferred to join other Native American artists at the market Schaaf is organizing.

Tenorio said even his pots are responding. "I was just so happy he had put that together," Tenorio said. "I told him, no matter, my pots are coming back to life."

Schaaf said he planned to return a signed contract and payment securing space at the center for the two-day event. The center, a property of the Scottish Rite Temple, dropped its daily rate of $2,300 to $2,000 per day and threw in the use of chairs and folding tables, he said.

Schaaf said he's footing the bill for the venue, but is trying to raise money.

The decision to end tenure status at the Santa Fe Indian Market starting in 2017 upset Native American artists whose participation was guaranteed year after year. Decisions that awarded booths to contemporary artists rankled older, established artists who said the event was established to preserve traditional native arts and provide opportunities for Southwestern artists.

Elizabeth Kirk, chairwoman of the SWAIA board of directors, on Monday said she saw no conflict or competition with Schaaf's plans and the 96-year-old Santa Fe Indian Market.

"We're all here to see artists succeed," she said. "We're artist driven. If we can see artists succeed, or maybe take another avenue, we're all for it."

Schaaf said he decided to organize the event to provide respected artists an opportunity to make up the income they lose by not participating in Indian Market. He added that he specifically invited the family members of longtime or founding artists at Indian Market.

"My major concern was for those elderly artists who relied on Indian Market for their livelihood," Schaaf said. "And we're talking about the basics - food and heat and copays for medicines and the money to put on their feast days and their ceremonies."


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