Maria Chabot and the Market

This week begins the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) 93rd annual Santa Fe Indian Market. This is a major event in Santa Fe that brings artists, collectors, and visitors from all over the world to see and learn about contemporary Native arts and cultures.

The Research Center houses the archive of Maria Chabot, a friend of O’Keeffe’s who helped her restore her Abiquiu house in the 1940s. Chabot was a woman with a wide depth and breadth of interests that extended to Native American and Spanish colonial arts and crafts, among many other things. In 1936, Chabot played a role in changing the course of the Santa Fe Indian Market when she suggested holding Saturday Indian Markets throughout the summer in Santa Fe. While some form of the market has been around since 1922, the annual Santa Fe fair was discontinued from 1932 to 1935 in favor of fairs held at the individual pueblos. In a 1973 draft letter recalling her proposal to bring the fair back to Santa Fe Chabot writes “… as executive [secretary] of the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs (then presided over by Mrs. Margretta Dietrich) I proposed the [association] sponsor an Indian Market – Saturday –  under the portal of the Palace of the Governors – modeled after plaza markets in old Mexico.”

After visiting the local pueblos to gauge their responses to the plan, the Saturday Indian Markets went ahead. Unlike the past fairs, Chabot solicited participating artists directly, asked their help in publicizing and judging the markets, and encouraged artists to set their own prices and sell directly to the public. Buses brought Native American artists to Santa Fe throughout the summer, with a different pueblo featured each Saturday and awards given. In the end, the Saturday Indian Markets were a great success and integral to the evolving Santa Fe Indian Market.

Below you see Chabot’s typed description of her role with NMAIA and the development of the 1936 Saturday Indian Markets as well as a photograph of Maria Chabot in Mexico from 1933.

More about SWAIA and the Santa Fe Indian Market:

More about Maria Chabot and her role in developing the Santa Fe Indian Market: Bernstein, Bruce.From Indian Fair to Indian Market”. El Palacio. 98.3 (1993): 14-18,47-54.

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