By: Joseph Rios
If you’ve been to Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Traditional Spanish Market any time over the past 45 years, then chances are you’ve seen local Colorado artist, Carlos Santistevan and his works of colonial New Mexican art.
Santistevan, a Denver native and descendent of artist Pedro Antonio Fresquis, became the first Coloradan to have his art displayed at the Santa Fe Spanish Market — an event that showcases traditional art from local Hispanic artists.
Santistevan specializes in New Mexican religious folk art and has crafted and carved images of saints, saint statues and wooden sculptures of saints and religious figures. His artistic talent has also been passed down to his children.
Santistevan’s children, Carlito Santistevan and Brigida Santistevan, also create art such as hide paintings and art using cornhusk. “Everything we do is considered traditional,” Santistevan told La Voz. “It’s more of New Mexican folk art rather than contemporary art.”
The family can trace its ancestry and ties to Southern Colorado and New Mexico back to Santistevan’s father who was born in New Mexico and raised in Trinidad. And today, the family honors those ties every year at the Spanish Market.
This year’s Traditional Spanish Market takes place on July 30 and July 31 at the Historic Santa Fe Art Plaza from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. The event, which celebrates the Hispanic artistic legacy of New Mexico, will allow visitors the chance to meet Hispanic artists, purchase their art, and more. It will mark the 70th annual Traditional Spanish Market, and admission is free.
Santistevan will be displaying bone carvings from buffalos at the event this year. “I’ve been doing buffalo carving for a number of years. I try to keep myself fresh so (his art is) always something new,” said Santistevan. “It’s always nice to come and look and see what other artists are doing and hopefully sell some art.”
The event will feature over 200 artists whose work includes bultos, retablos, colcha embroidery, tinwork, straw applique, wood carvings, jewelry, metalwork furniture, weaving and other forms of art that express New Mexico history. Attendees can also expect performances on the Santa Fe Plaza bandstand and food options.
Artists compete for cash awards and prizes in different categories. The artwork is presented to a jury that is made up of art dealers, curators, art collectors and historians.
Other artists whose work will be on display at the event include local artist, Teresa Duran, whose family can be traced back to the early settlements of New Mexico. Duran creates retablos and has had her work displayed at museums, universities, churches and galleries. Duran also holds a special local title of mother of former Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran. Duran had this to offer, “Spanish Market is a wonderful celebration of Art that been created for over 300 years. One cannot separate Southern Colorado from Northern New Mexico, we are the same people with the same traditions.”
Last year’s Traditional Spanish Market was scaled back, but this year’s event is expected to have more artists, more live entertainment, and more food vendors. For more information about the event, visit
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