This year, Santa Fe's annual International Folk Art Market comes to Museum Hill for its ninth encore.
Charlene Cerny, the market's executive director, says she's looking forward to "the unbelievable success that the artists find and seeing how they are transformed over the weekend, especially the first-time artists."
For new artists, she says, coming to the United States can be terrifying. In order to mitigate the effects of this culture shock and familiarize new artists with how the market works, a pre-market training session connects experienced artists with first-time participants, fostering a sense of community.
"One of the things they tell [the new artists], which I think is fascinating because they're allowed to say anything they want, is, 'Trust the situation. These people who volunteer are honest; they're not going to take your money away,'" Cerny says. "Many of these people come from a culture of corruption."
The volunteers who work the booths alongside the visiting artists, Cerny says, and help dispel stereotypes about Americans.
"[The volunteers] are so committed to these people, and they become [the artists'] first American friends," Cerny explains. "This people-to-people diplomacy is at the heart of what we're all about."
With 156 artists from more than 50 countries, the market welcomes four new countries this year: Hungary, Uganda, Vanuatu and South Sudan. (Fun fact: Since gaining independence on July 9, 2011, South Sudan is the world's youngest country.) The market offers three days of purchasing opportunities for locals and visitors, and 90 percent of the proceeds go directly to the artists.
"The world comes together in one weekend," Cerny says. Food and performances also abound. (It would be criminal to deprive the other senses of such a rich cultural merging.) Sunday, July 15 is family day, when kids receive a passport and a map of the market and then get to run around the booths collecting flag stamps from each country's artists or volunteers.
When asked for one piece of advice she'd offer a first-time market-goer, Cerny says, "Don't try to park up here." Summer after summer, unwitting (or just jerky) motorists try to park on Museum Hill, which clogs the tiny road that passes in front of the market. Instead, visitors should park in town, either the in PERA building parking lot (at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail) or the South Capitol lot. Free buses run Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Don't let summer pass without taking the opportunity to experience the true meaning of America: listening to a cacophony of different languages, eating curry and tacos at the same time, decorating yourself with henna tattoos, listening to an African drum ensemble and doing pretty much anything else your heart desires. Or just walk around and revel in the fact that all of this is happening right here, in Santa Fe.
July 13-15, Museum Hill
5:30 pm Saturday, July 7. Free. Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail,
Community Celebration at the Santa Fe Railyard
5-9 pm Thursday, July 12. Free. Santa Fe Railyard Park
Santa Fe International Folk Art Market Artist Demonstrations
Various times and locations.