Spanish Market comes to Las Cruces for first time in February

Carlos Otero will be one of the artists at the Las Cruces Spanish Market. Courtesy photo.
Carlos Otero will be one of the artists at the Las Cruces Spanish Market. Courtesy photo.
Four centuries ago, the Spanish brought their unique art forms to the Province of Nuevo México. That art is the core of our culture and, for the last 90 years, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society has striven to preserve and promote the art forms through the Spanish Market in Santa Fe.

Now, art aficionados will not have to drive the nearly 600 miles round trip to experience the charm, wonder, and remarkable art of the historic market.

“We are holding our first ever Spanish Market in Las Cruces February 21st and 22nd,” said Brian Colón, president of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. “It will be at Hotel Encanto, part of Heritage Hotels and Resorts, our number one partner all across New Mexico.”

The first Spanish Market was held on the plaza in Santa Fe in 1926. According to Colón, “we have continued to feature Spanish Colonial artists who do amazing things and create amazing art forms.”

Colón, who is a graduate of NMSU and an Albuquerque resident, added, “I thought what a dream it would be to take this market to Las Cruces, my second home, and expand the footprint and opportunities for our Spanish Colonial artists in educating and increasing the awareness of Spanish Colonial art forms and the history of our state.”

David Setford, executive director of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, explained there are about 250 juried artists in the society. “There may be many people who appreciate and do Spanish Colonial artwork,” he said, “but there are very few who have the capacity to be juried into the Spanish Market.”

He added, “This is not going to be an arts and crafts sale. There will be world-class artists here at Hotel Encanto offering high-quality Spanish Colonial art. And, if it’s a success, we’ll be back next year bigger and better than ever.”

As many as 45 artists will be at the Las Cruces Spanish Market offering retablos, bultos, colcha embroidery, tinwork, weaving and textiles, filigree, pottery, ironwork, and other traditional art forms.

The Las Cruces event, Setford said, “will be an immersive experience. It’s not just wonderful art, but we’ll have Spanish Colonial New Mexico music of all different types running through every portion of both days.”

Last year, the society expanded its winter market by adding a weekend in Albuquerque after Thanksgiving, dramatically expanding visitation to the market. “Many of our Spanish Colonial artists count their art as the only form of income they earn,” Setford continued. “So, it’s critically important for us as a society to find new clients and new opportunities for our artists. That, we believe, is the best way of fulfilling our mission of preserving and promoting Spanish Colonial art.”

Colón added, “The Spanish Market in Las Cruces really creates a cultural corridor.” He noted New Mexicans have talked about expanding the cultural corridor for a long time. “But, he said, “many of you in Las Cruces know that cultural corridor ended in places like Valencia County. Too often, people in northern New Mexico forget there’s a beautiful part of our state south of I-40.”

The society president said the Las Cruces event is not just about promoting Spanish Colonial artists. “We’re changing the way New Mexico views itself and our history. It will promote economic development, and it will result in bigger and brighter things than you can imagine.”

Admission to Las Cruces Spanish Market will be $5 per person or $8 per couple. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

An event like Las Cruces Spanish Market doesn’t happen without committee people, Colón said, expressing appreciation to the Las Cruces committee including J. Paul Taylor, Belia Alvarez, Kent Jacobs, Sallie Ritter, Mary-Helen Ratje, Karen Billings, Kathleen Albers, Tomasita J. Radriguez, Joseph M. Chávez, and James Wilson. He also recognized partners and sponsors Heritage Hotels and Resorts, Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, Doña Ana Arts Council, the Taylor Family Monument, Whataburger, and New Mexico Department of Tourism.

Local juried members of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society who wish to participate in the Las Cruces market can make arrangements by contacting Maggie Magalnick, director of the Spanish Market, at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe at (505) 982-2226, extension 111.