Saturday, July 26, 2014

Folk Art Extravaganza, part 3

So here's where I'll tell you everything about my trip to Santa Fe with Crizmac's Folk Art Extravaganza that I have left out of my prior posts.  And that means this will be another long, and photo-rich blog post.  I hope you'll get all the way to the end!
Seen on the streets of Santa Fe, above and below
The Folk Art Extravaganza, along with offering two full days at the International Folk Art Market, also provided participants with professional development experience, and if you wanted/needed, you could leave with a certificate for 44 hours of professional development credit!  As a retiree, I didn't have need for it, but hallelujah for those young 'uns who did!!
Was it black and white night for dining?  That's me on the right.

Our first and last full days in Santa Fe were spent in classroom activity, which included time for two hands-on projects (I completed one of the two), discussion, and visits from artists (and/or their representatives) from the Folk Art Market.  Both days ended with fun group dinners at terrific restaurants.
Casa Chimayo (above) where we had our first group dinner
And at Andiamo (below) for our final group dinner
 Ole!  (They'd watched flamenco dancing the prior night)
 Above, on the left is group leader/Crizmac president Stevie Mack
And below, left, is group leader/School Arts editor Nancy Walkup
For someone like me, traveling alone, this was a terrific opportunity.  Spending so much time at the crowded Folk Art Market might have been a painful experience for my T-shirts and jeans husband, who I'm sure would NOT want to spend his day listening to global music in the hot sun and pushing through crowds to look at handwoven rugs, carved doodads, fabulous textiles, felted scarves, jewelry galore, and assorted trinkets of every variety.  I can see him looking at his watch, quietly praying "please let this be over soon." Even the food would have been painful for him.  While I gleefully ate a felafel lunch at the market, he'd have been desperately searching for a BLT or a plain old hamburger.

Some of our group, strolling to the plaza after dinner (below).
So I traveled to Santa Fe independently, as did the majority of the participants in the group, which meant that we all got to know each other quickly and were never left to fend for ourselves alone (unless we wanted to be alone!).  Given the resources and opportunity, I would definitely consider traveling with Crizmac again.  (Uh oh, I guess I'd better mail in my evaluation form soon!)

So let me back up to those two days spent in the classroom.  We had the option to work on a personal shrine (a 'retablo') and/or a quilt square representing ourselves or our trip to Santa Fe or really whatever we wanted.  Heaps of materials were available, and we could take them to work on in  the evenings as desired.  I had an idea for my retablo, based on the marsh where I kayak so often, and gathered materials into a box, but I haven't built it yet.  Instead, after a couple of false starts, I had some fun making this bright colorful floral quilt square. 
 I worked on it extensively in the evenings as well as the classroom time, and it is done!  I like it so much, I'm going to sew it on a backing and frame it, I think. I took photos of some of the projects other participants made, but evidently I deleted them by mistake and can't locate a single photo!  Sorry!

The real highlight of those classroom days was the visitors who came to see us.  On the first day, we had a visit from an American woman representing Lila Handicrafts, a cooperative of Pakistani ralli quilters.  She brought a lot to show us, and went into detail about their work and the providence that brought her together with them.  She even brought some unfinished bags with her, and sold them to us at very reasonable prices.  We also were given some quilt scraps and leftover tassels.  I bought a bag that needed a handle and a closure, and when I got home, I was able to use the quilt scraps to make a coordinating strap which I sewed in place.  I then added a Velcro closure, and then sewed the tassels over the Velcro.  I'm very happy with my unique completed piece, pictured below. 
I must say, the work in their booth at the Market definitely was some of the most unique and exquisite I saw.  Here's some of what she brought with her to show us.  I appreciated the close-up view of the intricate workmanship.  I was hoping to find an authentic mola at the Market, but there were none; however these quilts were closer to molas than anything else I saw at the festival.  Look closely at this series of photos below.  This is ALL hand-stitching.  Remarkable!

Then, on our last day, we had three groups of visitors.
First was Augustin Cruz Prudencio from Oaxaca Mexico.  He and his brother came and shared their carved and painted animals and figures, demonstrated their tools, and spoke about their craft.  Stevie translated for them! A little anteater I purchased was made by them.
 And Manuel Abeiro Horta Ramos and brother brought their amazing carved and painted dance masks and other decorative masks.  (I bought the owl with snakes pictured below).  Their American representative spoke for them and shared their work. 
But the most engaging of them all was Huichol yarn painter Cilau Valadez and his father Mariano Valadez.  (We all thought Cilau was pretty cute, too!)
Their work is beyond stunning, and each piece incorporates spiritual themes.  Cilau's mother is an American anthropologist, and as a result, he has dual citizenship and speaks fluent English, having spent some years of schooling in the US.  They are renowned for their work and have had shows worldwide.  Cilau called himself a 'bridge', sharing about and advocating for the preservation of his traditional culture as he travels and speaks around the world.  He employs apprentices in his workshop and is instrumental at getting some of his people out of the tobacco fields by training them in the traditional arts.  Unfortunately I was not able to purchase a piece of their magnificent work.
 The gorgeous beadwork (below) is done by some of the women in their workshop.
 I've been asked what I bought at the International Folk Art Festival.  I believe I probably spent a lot less than most of the others in our group, but that's just me.  I'm generally a pretty frugal shopper.  Several things I was specifically hoping to find were not represented.  These were folk art items that had appeared in favorite lessons that I had taught over the years.  I wanted to bring home an authentic sample of, as I previously said, a mola from the Cuna Indians (from islands off the coast of Panama), and also a piece of amate bark painting from Mexico, an aboriginal bark painting from Australia,  and a daruma doll (a bringer of good luck) from Japan.  And possibly something from New Zealand featuring the koru, or unfurling spiral symbol.  No luck, unfortunately.
But I did buy a number of small items, some of which I previously mentioned and are in the photo above.  My purchases included a lovely woven scarf made by a woman from Ecuador (the rich blue in the upper left corner), a red carved gourd ornament for my husband from Peru, a tiny Oaxacan carved and painted anteater, a small carved mask from Mexico that now hangs in our camp (not in photo), a pretty Yemenite silver ring from Israel (not in photo), a hand dyed bag, dyed with the 'ikat' process (not in photo) and a luscious hand died spun silk scarf (the turquoise and white 'cloud' scarf under the other objects) from Uzbekistan, a bracelet from South Africa made from telephone wire (yellow and purple), and some small woven bracelets from palm fronds (front right) made in Colombia. 

Wow.  After all these photos, and three posts, I realize that I haven't even talked about or shown you photos from the Museum of International Folk Arts, which is simply fabulous.  Another post, another time....

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!