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The Work of Art

IMG_2067 (480x640) on my tableIf your coffee table book stack is puny, if your resource library isn’t quite up to snuff, or if you’ve got just a little bit more shelf space, I have a suggestion for you.  A new book that just came out in July from IFAA Media and Museum of New Mexico Press: “The Work of Art,” by Carmella Padilla.

Now, I will tell you that between the covers of this book I’m recommending is a fair bit of self-promotion.  You only have to skim down to the second paragraph of the book jacket to read: “At the heart of this story is the work of the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe…” but that to me is okay.  I like the Market.  Beyond Borders was a vendor there for a number of years and I personally support it by attending whenever I can. As Patricia West-Barker put it in a July 8th article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, “The International Folk Art Market’s origins, past, and future are well covered in the opening and closing chapters — but Carmella Padilla’s ‘The Work of Art’ focusses on the personal lives and community accomplishments of many of the artists who helped define the market’s first decade.” In other words, it strikes a decent balance between promoting the Market and providing useful information about premier artists and their extraordinary work.

The author has plenty of accolades, and she tells the stories of the artists with lovely literary flourishes.  The section on Haitian artists Georges Valris and Serge Jolimeau is illuminating, as are many others, though I will hereby confess that at this writing, I have not yet read them all.  Those that I have read,         however, certainly ring true.                                                                                                                                                   IMG_2071 (640x480)

All well and good.  But what really makes the $29 you spend for a paperback version, or $60 for the hardcover (Which you can order online with a click  http://ifamonline.mybigcommerce.com/the-work-of-art-folk-artists-in-the-21st-century/) is the photography by John Bigelow Taylor and Dianne Dubler. If you like what you see in the first 165 pages, you’ll eat up the final 65. That section features stunning gallery-style photographs of folk art masterpieces and “was purposefully designed to be a meditation on the artwork,” said Kelly Waller, who served as the photo editor for the book. Obvious care went into the selection of works to be featured and the details captured therein are quite simply astonishing.  In the photos are revealed intricacies that defy description, from the tiniest of stitches in a Bhutanese textile to the faintest of brushstrokes on a Mexican ceramic piece.  Whoever coined the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” wasn’t kidding. And whoever decided that folk art is “primitive” should have his head examined.

Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

Not to be missed: The International Folk Art Market

For color, cultural richness, and acquisitive opportunity, you can’t beat the International Folk Art Market.  Held annually the second full weekend in July in Santa Fe, NM, this year’s Market holds plenty of promise.  Beyond Borders has sponsored artists in the past, and though we’re not participating as a vendor this year, it’s not because it’s not worthy.  It IS!  By plane, train, automobile, or on horseback, if you can make it, GO!

According to their press release dated May 23, 2012, the mission of the Market is to “provide a venue for master traditional artists to display, demonstrate, and sell their work.  By providing opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace, the Market creates economic empowerment and improves the quality of life in communities where folk artists live.” Many of the artists come from developing countries where political, social, and environmental hardships can make everything – including the creation of art – challenging. To illustrate the impact of Market sales, $2.3 million went directly to the artists last year alone. That money was carried back to villages around the globe and used to build homes and schools, to dig wells for clean water, and construct generators for electricity.  It’s a powerful bottom line.

It might be well to mention here that the Market is also A LOT of fun. In addition to the wondrous array of folk art for sale, there is ethnic music, dancing, and food, not to mention the visual feast.  Many of the artists come in their local, native costumes, and to be honest, the shoppers are pretty colorful too!  A few years past, there was a petite, blue-eyed blonde woman, heavily laden with her Market purchases, wearing a Pakistani bridal gown, mirrored and appliqued in brilliant shades purple, scarlet, and yellow.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her – she looked amazing.  So I told her just that.  Her reply was, “Do you like it?  I absolutely love this gown.  I got it in India years ago.  But you know, here in the States, you can’t wear it just everywhere.” I sympathized.  Probably not.

It’s not too late to plan your trip.  The official Market website www.folkartmarket.org has everything you need to know in the way of events, artists, getting tickets and getting around.  Get clicking and when you see what marvels are in store, just try to tell me you’re not tempted to drop everything and go.  (I won’t even believe you.)

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