Friday night folk art fun and frivolity

SANTA FE, NM – Friday night before Folk Art Market is the very fun Patron Party: The chance to come early and shop leisurely with a margarita and a shish kabob before the gates open the next morning at 7 for the “early bird sales” and at 9 for the hordes.

For collectors, this opening night party is a must. For $125 a ticket, one can actually see into the booths, visit with the artisans and Have First Choice of The Works! Limited to 2,000 patrons who accounted for $650,000 on this particular evening, the party’s enthusiastic cognoscenti snapped up their favorite items, some never seen by the general public.

Like, I would have bought a butter-soft, sage-green yak leather shoulder purse just big enough for my iPhone and a few little things, but all the fellow had left when I got to him was the mama bear and papa bear of yak leather bags! He was sold out of the just-rights.

I heard one lady bought all of the silver ponytail barrettes from the Peruvian silver artisan. One poor husband was carrying so many shopping bags, I really wondered if they owned anything already.

One can travel the world on one little hill here in Santa Fe, for Folk Art Market where, for a few days, Museum Hill is an explosion of color, music, flowers, ribbons and tents filled with the best of the best handmade items from all corners of the earth. All made by people, no machines, with creativity, ingenuity, love and sometimes necessity.

Folk Art Market is a juried show, like Indian Market, with only a fraction of the international artisan applicants selected every year. Their work is exquisite by museum standards … . Oh, guess what? That’s who’s choosing!

All of this art came from everywhere you’ve ever heard of and places you haven’t, countries with bizarre names that forgot their vowels. Lao Pdr? (That’s the Laos People’s Democratic Republic, better known as Laos). Kyrgyzstan?

With the G pronounced as in good for me by a beauty representing one of the booths from Kyrg-g-gyzstan, who had an alabaster face and pale, pale, crystal blue eyes, and was wearing a native outfit reminiscent of ’70s St. Laurent. Certainly old Yves copied them! The scarf I bought there is a banner of slithery peach silk with swirled, felted wool edges of the same color – divine, a very special work of art.

Making it really fun to shop ’til you drop, there are yummy native international foods for every palate while festive, colorful entertainment on the stage (and off) keeps the bored husbands busy for a good while in the shaded amphitheater.

They can enjoy all kinds of music and dancing from ALL OVER THE WORLD, performers in handmade spectacular, extravagant costumes, with instruments strange and wonderful!

This may be the biggest fundraiser of the year in Santa Fe (no way to measure Indian Market since its not a single check-out system) and, after only 11 short years of existence, Folk Art Market is pulling in $3 million in two days and this evening preview party!

Ninety percent of the revenue goes directly to the artists, with the other 10 percent to the operation.

Many of the artists come from undeveloped countries and have never left their native villages, speak only their own languages and will earn more in the 2.1 days of Folk Art Market than in the entire rest of the year back home.

And while what we buy as a token to spoil ourselves can mean a minimal sacrifice for us to acquire, the choices and activities involved in producing it can make a difference in the way of life for the creator “over there.” Success. A better standard of living. Hope for the future.

Some of the artisans come from advanced civilizations and do incredibly complex works of art of incredible value! The whole spectrum … . Like art and folks, and folk art.

Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email


A Kyrgyzstan artist shows off her country’s traditional attire.


Even a Chinese artist was hurrying to shop at the Folk Art Market.


Folk art lives on in the person of John Pen LaFarge.


Cynthia Coleman and Leon Morrison sampled the dumplings!


Folk Art market alumni Andrea Fisher and Nancy Benkof share a moment.


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