Joe Loux. | Tribal Art in Santa Fe: How they bounced back in a pandemic
A report from the Santa Fe tribal art shows. Joe Loux shows museum-quality tribal art and jewelry.
tribal art, santa fe art, tribal jewelry, museum-quality art, indoor art show
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Would the August Santa Fe art shows be a success this year? In normal years, it’s the highlight in many an art dealer or collectors’ calendar, but would surging COVID-19 numbers due to the virulent delta strain cause visitors to cancel their plans to visit the shows? We had no idea, but Santa Fe’s low COVID rates gave us room for optimism, and we saw the urgent need within our tribal art community to reawaken from a pandemic-induced, dormant state – to switch from pixels to the tangible.


Our business needed this injection of show sales badly, and we committed in full, signing up for the long-standing Whitehawk Antique Indian & Ethnographic Art Show, the Santa Fe Gallery Walk, and the Santa Fe virtual show.


The first shows in our calendar were the Santa Fe Gallery Walk and the Santa Virtual Show, which were organized collectively, and opened simultaneously on August 11th. Brant Mackley hosted us at his gallery on 1405 Paseo de Peralta, and the collaboration was symbiotic. Business was steady, with a constant flow of visitors, most of whom were specialized, knowledgeable buyers. We kept the energy alive with weekend brunches which were lively and popular. The Gallery Walk is a relatively new event that was created to fill the void left by show cancellations last year and there is room to grow, particularly in the area of marketing and publicity.


The virtual show was slow, but mostly because it was eclipsed by the Gallery Walk – and perhaps we’re all a little online-weary.


The real winner for us was the long-standing Whitehawk Antique Indian & Ethnographic Art Show (August 14th – 16th) at the Community Convention Center. The show was eagerly awaited and well-attended. There was a feeling of euphoria in the air: At last! We can meet with fellow art lovers and discuss objects! It felt like the first meal after a fast. Thankfully, that energy translated into sales.


International travelers were present albeit in fewer numbers, but there were many national and regional visitors, with regulars and newcomers. It reinforced one of the great strengths of the city – Santa Fe residents support their art shows.


Whitehawk show organizer Marcia Berridge did a skillful job of enforcing a mask-wearing rule amongst visitors and exhibitors, and they maintained this policy without problems. A biproduct of pandemic-caution was that many visitors delaying their visit to the show until the end of the weekend to avoid the opening rush. The consequence was a steady flow of attendees from beginning to end.


Back home in San Francisco, we feel invigorated and full of love for Santa Fe. We’re ready for the next show season, in whatever form it might take.

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