By Vince Kong
It’s noon and already the sidewalks are overflowing, spilling pedestrians onto the cordoned-off streets surrounding the Santa Fe Plaza. And the crowd for this weekend – expected to surpass some 70,000 visitors – is gathered here in the City Different on this Saturday for one reason, and one reason only: the 62nd annual Traditional Spanish Market.
Well, maybe two reasons, as Albuquerque-based artist Suzanne Lopez pointed out.
“This isn’t the Spanish Market,” she said.
And, technically, it was not.
That’s because, along with the maze of tents, street musicians and passersby down Lincoln Avenue, is a part of Spanish Market weekend that has been gaining in popularity. In its 27th iteration, this is the Contemporary Hispanic Market.
Lopez is among artists at 134 booths and exhibits, ranging from the hand-made cigar-box guitars of Cipriano Vigil to traditional retablos as interpreted by Santa Fe artist Johnny Lorenzo to, well, just about anything.
As for Lopez, “I create sacred alters to transform your consciousness,” she said, while pointing at a roughly foot-tall carving of the Virgin Mary, whose face had been replaced with a butterfly. “She’s our Lady of Transformation.”
But while Lopez represents one end of the spectrum of contemporary Spanish art, another Albuquerque-based artist, John De Jesus, said his influences are rooted in the more traditional aspects of Spanish and Mexican cultures.
“What you’re looking at are works influenced by the holiday Día de los Muertos,” said De Jesus, whose collection features wood carvings and paintings of skeletons in various forms of traditional Spanish dress. “I’m taking images of death and putting life into them,”
While De Jesus understands that Traditional Spanish Market-goers may be turned off by his interpretation of the sacred holiday, he simply shrugs it off. His art may simply not be for them.
“I’m an ambassador of culture for the younger generation,” he said. “The stuff in the Traditional Spanish Market is beautiful, but it appeals to the kids’ parents. This is for Generation Xers and younger. They look at my work and go, ‘Wow, Day of the Dead art, but I’ve never seen it like this before. What is this all about?’
“So I’ve come to find myself explaining the culture to young Mexican-Americans – kind of like a gateway to our culture.”
That’s also how Jerome Garcia views his work.
“I grew up living between Española and Juárez (Mexico), so my work is inspired a lot by both places,” said the 31-year-old native of Taos, who takes iconic Mexican and Spanish images, and places them in an urban setting. “I use my work to tell a story … and I think a lot of the younger generation kind of gravitate towards it because it’s telling their story.
“I guess what we’re doing is urban folk,” he said.
The rising appeal of the Contemporary Hispanic Market may also be rooted in something more practical, said Santa Fe native and long-time market-goer Lisa Jaramillo, 36.
“I’ve been coming here my whole life – my father and aunt were in (the Spanish Market) – but more and more I think people are coming just for the Contemporary (Hispanic) Market. It’s my favorite,” she said. “It’s more affordable, the colors are more vibrant, and while I love the traditional stuff, not everybody is Catholic, so they just may not be into it.”
Surce: ABQ Journal