The Traditional Spanish Market features nineteen art categories artists may jury into. Many artists have been approved to work in one or two categories, but some work in multiple categories, and they can combine several categories into one piece of artwork. Each category has been defined as part of the artistic traditions of New Mexico and southern Colorado through historic, modern, and contemporary periods.
Colcha is a type of embroidery that utilizes a long stitch couched down with angled cross stitches on a flat woven textile backing in linear or overall designs. Typical designs include flora, fauna, and Christian devotional images. The tradition has evolved from bed coverlets and table/altar runners to clothing, pillow covers, and Christmas ornaments.
Prints on paper are made from engraved copper plates. Typical designs include Christian devotional images. Traditionally these prints are found in books, single sheets inserted into tinwork frames and nichos, and as loose cards for small personal altars. The tradition has evolved into the production of portfolios with multiple images and non-devotional subject matter.
Furniture and Furnishings
Traditional woodworking technologies are used to make furniture and furnishings that are both portable and securely fastened or built into the interior and exterior of buildings. Typically, these items were entirely painted. Today it is common to see the wooden items sealed with wax or a clear varnish, and they could have elaborately carved decoration or painted designs and Christian devotional images on them.
Gesso reliefs are a subset of retablos, or wooden panels that are painted on one side with Christian devotional images. Rather than being flat, these panels have three-dimensional elements that are separately cast and applied or built-up directly on the panels using thickened gesso to provide relief before painting.
Paintings on tanned bison, elk, deer, and cow hides were made to be rolled and transported for improvised altars or installed in chapels and churches as canopies over altars or before permanent wooden retablos and reredos were installed. Typical designs include Christian devotional images. The tradition was revived in the late 20th century, often with paintings in a smaller scale.
Innovations within the Tradition
In 2011, the Society introduced an “Innovations within the Tradition” subcategory that allowed artists to employ more creativity in their artwork and revitalize Spanish Market in its larger contemporary setting of the arts in Santa Fe. The innovations can be in subject, form, materials, tools, and/or techniques while still working within the traditional format.
Historically, iron was scarce and expensive, so smiths produced small and simple items of necessity, such as tools, utensils, hardware, and furnishings. The tradition was revived in the late 20th century and it has evolved into more decorative items, including floral arrangements.
Painted bultos are three-dimensional wooden sculptures that are carved and painted with Christian devotional images. The figures are typically placed upon small wooden bases or crosses. Sometimes the figures are placed within an architectural framework, as a subset of painted bultos known as bultos en nichos. The tradition has evolved from single standing figures to elaborate assemblages, often with contemporary themes and classic automobiles.
Painted reliefs are a subset of retablos, or wooden panels that are painted on one side with Christian devotional images. Rather than being flat, these panels are carved to provide relief before painting.
Hand-coiled pottery jars, bowls, and plates are made primarily for food storage, preparation, and consumption. Typically, warm brown-colored micaceous wares are without any painted decoration, but fire cloud decorations and blackened surfaces are produced by reduction firing. Non-micaceous wares, revivals based upon examples from the historic central New Mexican villages of Carnué and Casitas, are decorated with simple spattered and linear designs in colored clay slips. The tradition has evolved from “bean pots” into other forms, including Christian nativity assemblages and horno-shaped incense burners.
Silver and gold are used to make many kinds of utilitarian, devotional, and decorative items. Historically, precious metals were used in items made for Christian ceremonies, santo accessories, and luxury items for wealthy households, but today they are used primarily in the jewelry traditions.
Retablos are flat wooden panels that are painted on one side with Christian devotional images. Altar screens are a subset of retablos that typically include more than one retablo placed within a wooden architectural framework. The tradition has evolved with miniature-sized retablos and altar screens as well as with contemporary themes and cut-out panel shapes like elaborate crosses and classic automobiles.
Revival Arts—Bone Carving
Bone carving is used to make tool handles, jewelry, and musical instruments. The revived tradition has expanded recently into the creation of santos.
Revival Arts—Leatherwork / Rawhide
Tanned and untanned skins and hides are used to make travel chests, pouches, tobacco flasks, and lariats.
Ramilletes are multicolored garlands constructed with multilayered cornhusk, scrap cloth, and paper.
Straw appliqué is a regional tradition that imitates European marquetry. Typical designs include geometric motifs and Christian devotional images. The tradition has evolved from setting cornhusk in blackened piñon sap varnish on wooden crosses (encrusted straw) to the early 20th century revival of adhering golden straw onto painted wood with commercially-prepared glue. Today multi-colored straw is applied to a variety of forms, including Christmas ornaments.
Tinwork is constructed from sheet metal with soldered joinery, originally derived from recycled cans. Typical forms include household furnishings such as frames, sconces, nichos, boxes, candleholders, and crosses. The tradition has evolved into complex constructions, often with other media, and with innovative finishes.
Unpainted bultos are three-dimensional wooden sculptures that are carved with Christian devotional images. The figures are typically placed upon small wooden bases or crosses. Santeros are known in several established styles, including Ortega, Cόrdova, Salazar, and Barela. Sometimes the figures are placed within an architectural framework, as a subset of unpainted bultos known as bultos en nichos.
Unpainted reliefs, like painted reliefs, are a subset of retablos, or wooden panels that are decorated on one side with Christian devotional images. Rather than being flat, these panels are carved to provide relief.
Weavings are flat textiles that are formed on a treadle loom with natural and dyed woolen warp and weft yarns. Blankets and wall hangings are weft-faced with multicolored yarns that form bands and complex patterns in Saltillo, Vallero, and Chimayό variations, including pictorials and ikats. Jerga floor coverings are twill woven in evenly exposed warp and weft, usually with multicolored plaid and striped designs. Sabanilla yardage has evenly exposed warp and weft, typically with undyed finer yarns. A revival in the early 20th century expanded the flat form into constructed pieces such as coats, vests, purses, and pillow covers.
Woodcarvings are painted or unpainted utilitarian and decorative items that do not include santos. Most of the santo woodcarvers in the Cόrdova, Ortega, Salazar, and Barela styles also carve other items such as crosses, animal figurines, furnishings, and musical instruments.