Monday, July 21, 2014

Folk Art Extravaganza, part 2

The International Folk Art Market - what an amazing event!  I spent the better part of two days there, exploring the sights and sounds and, um, well, also spending some money.  It's hard not to!  The Folk Art Market is a riot of color with a huge crowd of people, all happy and smiling.  From the artists to the volunteers to the attendees, everyone I saw was enjoying their  time.  It is a joyous event. 
Some fast facts:  There were, I believe, approximately 150 artists with 61 countries represented this year.  Ninety percent of the money that is taken in at the festival goes directly to the artists and their organizations to improve livelihoods across the globe.  Over it's first 10 years (this year was the 11th) visitor purchases generated more than $18 million in artists' sales, and most artists at the festival earn more than 10 times what they might earn in one full year in their home country.  Market entries are juried, and it is a very selective process.  So what you see at the market is only the best of the best.  Yet participants bring a variety of products, so that even the more frugal among us  (me) can find beautiful purchases they can afford without breaking the bank. 
 When you exit the buses, flags mark the way to enter the festival.
 The pathway in seems to stretch on forever.
 We've finally arrived!
 Oh my gosh, look at the crowd of people in the photo below!

The organizing group has made the process of attending as smooth as possible.  Buses run steadily to and from the site (you cannot drive there; it would be a traffic disaster!).  Water stations are plentiful throughout the festival, so in the dry dessert air you should never get dehydrated.  At at International Food Court in the festival, you can find just about anything imaginable to eat.  Global musical and dance performances are continuous at a central stage. Free lunches were delivered to the artists by volunteers during the busy day.  Museums on the site are free of charge, with rest rooms, and are also a place to take a break from the hot sun or the rain (it rained a bit in the afternoon on both days of the festival).  I spent a bit of time at the Museum of International Folk Art, and it is an incredible place.  When we waited in line for the buses in a sudden torrential downpour, they began handing out umbrellas to those in the queue; yes, they seemed to have thought of everything!  (Unfortunately, we were soaked through and through by the time I got an umbrella;  remember those photos of the path that I posted above?  There's no cover on that very long path.  Weirdly, while waiting in the queue, I had another crazy allergic reaction, breaking out in hives all over my body from the cold rain.  I know, it sounds weird, and I'm still trying to figure out why this is happening to me!) 
Even the shopping experience has been made easy.  Rather than taking out your wallet for every purchase and carrying around your goodies all day, you get a receipt from each artist where you make a purchase.  After a couple of hours, you head to a cashier who totals up all your purchases in one payment, and then gives you receipts which you take back to the artists to pick up what you've bought.  So you have one receipt instead of a handful!  Very practical system. 

And now for a whole bunch of photos...
 This man (above) makes these amazing baskets from telephone wire!
 Below, the mad crush.  Seriously!!
 I plan to tell you about the incredible Huichol artist who made the yarn paintings in the photo below in my next blog post.
 These vases below are made from kind of a papier-mache process, but instead of paper, they are made with tobacco leaves!
 Below, balls of indigo
 These gorgeous silk scarves with wool felting were a huge hit at the festival, but, since I'm sensitive to wool, I took photos instead of buying. 
 And the mad crush continues...
Anyhow, I think the best way to tell you about the Market is with pictures, so I'm done typing now and will add a few more photos below.  In the next day or two, I'll have another post from my artsy Santa Fe experience.  Still so much to share! 
 Above, one of the incredible Huichol yarn painters that I'll be telling you about in my next post.
These retablos (the photo directly below) were maybe the most incredible thing at the entire Folk Art Market.  Obviously, out of my price range!!
I'll be telling you more in my next blog post about the Oaxacan woodcarving artist who made the beautiful pieces in the photos directly above and below this line of type.
 Kicking myself that I didn't buy any of this velvet fabric below which I believe was sold by the yard.  I saw it toward the end of my second day and I had already cashed out my purchases, but oh what lovely pillows this fabric would have made, and they would have looked lovely in my living room (which my husband would tell you already has too many pillows...)
Surprise, surprise!  In the midst of the market, here's Tracy (below), a blogger/Facebook/NAEA friend.  It looks like she's having a great time too!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Folk Art Extravaganza, part 1

image from a booth at the International Folk Art Market
Here goes. I'm calling this post 'part 1' because after shooting about 600 photos during my time in Santa Fe for the Folk Art Extravaganza, I think I may bore you to tears if I try to put it all in one very long blog post.  (And an advance apology: usually I spend a lot of time editing photos before posting them here, but with so many pics to sort, if I waited to post until the editing was done, you wouldn't be reading this post until next winter, I think!  So the photos in this and the next couple of posts will be mostly unedited.)
image from a booth at the International Folk Art Market

Where to start - for several years, I've read the articles in School Arts magazine about the International Folk Art Market held annually in Santa Fe New Mexico. Crizmac offers a number of travel opportunities that include professional development for art educators, and one of these is the Folk Art Extravaganza, offered by Crizmac in collaboration with School Arts magazine.   I've always been wowed by the rich and vibrant colors of the folk art in those School Arts photos, and said to myself "that's something I'd love to do some day."  So, as a retired person with a flexible schedule, it suddenly occurred to me that 'some day' could be now!  So in the middle of the winter, I signed myself up, ordered my airline tickets, and blocked out the days on my calendar.  And home again now, and recovered from jet-lag, I can tell you the trip was everything I could have imagined.

But I had a rocky start.  Around the beginning of July, I got strangely and mysteriously sick (I rarely get sick).  I didn't do anything or even eat much (very odd for me) for a few days.  Finally feeling better, the day before the trip I did a bunch of laundry in anticipation of packing that day.  And suddenly I found myself with painfully itching and swollen hands, which I presumed were an allergic reaction to a new fabric softener.  Off to the doctor I went, and things got exceedingly worse as my legs broke out in nasty hives.  By the end of the day, armed with Benedryl, I had re-washed four loads of laundry and packed my bags, and was calmed down. (For a while I thought I'd have to cancel the trip; I was a total mess!)  We left for the airport at 4am the next morning (thanks to my sweet hubby for driving me), and off to Santa Fe I went, with barely any sleep and many hours of travel ahead.  Albany NY, to Chicago, to Denver, to Santa Fe; I finally arrived early afternoon and strolled the town a bit to get my bearings.
 From the air, between Denver and Santa Fe.  Alien crop circles perhaps?

Our group met late Thursday afternoon and walked to the railyard, for the festival's opening parade and festivities.  There were food trucks and stands everywhere, and when the artists assembled and marched in, it was like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, with everyone wearing their native costumes, and big smiles everywhere.   Except I was exhausted, and feeling the effects of the dry dessert air and high altitude. So with a quick bite to eat, I watched the parade, but didn't linger too long at the festivities, because I wanted to be awake and alert for the activities in the days to come.
I don't know why there's a space here.  I can't get rid of it, so I'll write in it.  Above, participants are waiting for the parade to begin.  I think the Ukrainian girls on the right are especially adorable. 
Below: images from the parade of artists, representing their countries
 In my 'part 2' post, I'll tell you all about the actual International Folk Art Market and my experience there, and in my 'part 3' post I'll talk about our group and leaders, and the professional development part of the trip, especially the visits we had from artists from the market.  These were a definite highlight!  Stay tuned!!!