The Spanish Colonial period in New Mexico stretched from 1598, when Don Juan de Oñate and a small group of settlers, soldiers and friars established the capital of the province of “Nueva México” at San Juan de los Caballeros (in the area of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), to 1821, when Mexico won independence from Spain claiming as well the province of New Mexico and opening the Santa Fe Trail to trade.
During this 223-year colonial era, numerous art forms developed in New Mexico, created with local materials. There were no academically-trained artists on the far northern frontier, but there were imaginative and skilled self-taught artists—often working together in informal workshops—creating masterful works of art whose designs and techniques were drawn from myriad sources. While Spain and Spanish art may have exerted the greatest influence on these works—particularly in the area of religious iconography—trade items from Asia, Europe and the rest of the Americas as well as the art of the nearby Pueblos also wielded great influence, creating a uniquely Hispanic New Mexican aesthetic.
With the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 enabling trade with the Eastern US, and the arrival of the railroad in 1880, new designs, styles, influences and materials were incorporated into the arts. But many of the basic forms and techniques remained the same. It was not until the late 19th century that the traditional art forms truly began to decline, owing in part to a dwindling market. In the early 20th century, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society stepped in to help provide a market for these traditional arts, with the aim of preserving them for future generations.
Today many talented Hispanic artists create extraordinary work using traditional methods and materials. The Spanish Colonial Arts Society supports their work through education, promotion and of course through the Annual Traditional Spanish Market, a rare opportunity to meet with the artists and see a cross-section of some of the finest contemporary Spanish Colonial artisan’s works being produced in the world.
Below is a list of the art categories into which an artist may be juried for the Traditional Spanish Market.