Arts and crafts fairs

The “fairest" of them all

From noble beginnings to grass-roots perfection

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A leading British philosophical voice and arts writer by the name of John Ruskin is credited with starting the Arts and Crafts Movement in the mid-1860s during the Victorian Era. He believed the medieval life was purer than the post-Renaissance world because it was more closely linked to nature. In his mind, art made by hand from nature reflected a higher morality and the decorative arts positively affected the people who produced them. The machine, he held, was a dehumanizer. Fellow Britain William Morris — who despised all things ornamental and machine-made that had no other purpose than decoration — took Ruskin’s philosophical foundation a step further by unifying aesthetics and social reform into the movement.

By the 1880s, major exhibitions of “head and hand” creations had swept across England but, were too costly for the working class.

The movement came to America’s East Coast in 1895 thanks to a New York printmaker exposed to artisan crafts exhibits while visiting England. From there, it became popular in the Midwest and for the first time in the movement’s history, became affordable to the working class, as intended.

New Mexico arts and crafts fairs are one of those places where there's always something for everyone at all price points. The craftsmanship of handmade indie wares is unparalleled and the artistic creations are inspired. Waves of fresh cooking waft through the air doing a sort of waltz with the live music. There is always something truly unique being offered or demonstrated.

Aspencade Arts & Crafts Fair : Sept. 21-23, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m./Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Browse through booths of hand-crafted items, jewelry, home furnishings, food, art, pottery and specialty goods while you enjoy food, live entertainment and the crisp air and changing colors of fall at Brandenburg Park in Red River. There’s more to explore in the Red River Conference Center.

The event coincides with the 4th annual Red River Folk Festival. $5 weekend entry fee. For more information, go to redriver.org, redriverchamber.org or call (575) 754-2366.

Taos Fall Arts & Crafts Fair: Sept. 28-30, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m./Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The great-grandmother of all Taos open-air arts and crafts fairs is entering its 47th run at Kit Carson Park this fall. Sponsored by the Taos Chamber of Commerce, its storied history began in the early 1970s when artists banded together to present a central location for visitors and locals to see and purchase the work of local artists and craftspeople. It has since grown with an expected approximately 60 artisans hailing from New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

This isn't a kindergarten crafts exhibit of glitter and Popsicle sticks. On hand will be serious works created by fine woodworkers, very skilled painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, copper and tin metalsmiths. Sample some handmade fine lotions or maybe try on some leather clothing. There is much more all interspersed with food and live music. No admission fee. For more information, go online to taoschamber.com or call (575) 751-8800.

Taos Yuletide Arts and Crafts Fair: Nov. 23-25

Unique and handmade arts and crafts, created by local artists. Great holiday gifts abound with proceeds benefiting the Taos nonprofit Community Against Violence. Santa will be there each day. Location and times to be announced. Call (575) 758-8082 or visit  taoscav.org.

— Compiled by Scott Gerdes

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