Getting ready for Spanish Market!

Tomorrow is our biggest show of the year – Spanish Market at the Heard Museum. 

Can you believe we’ve been doing this art and craft thing for almost two decades?? 

When Patrick and I began selling our Chicano pop art handmade wares (jewelry, birdhouses, boxes, pottery, crosses, shrines, etc), festivals like this didn’t exist in our town. This was in 1990 – I’m talking PRE-indie craft scene, PRe-Internet! We were making and selling Dia de los Muertos art long before Ed Hardy mania. We were inspired by Frida and were often met with “who is she again?” People thought Loteria was a tarot game. Milagros were just about impossible to find. We had no competition in our town, and boy, that kept us busy with orders!

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think all of that would get multiplied by a gazillion here in 2008!  

In order to bring in income from our arts and crafts back then, we had to take samples and a printed color catalog to local boutiques and gallery shops. We either brought in a bunch of items ready for purchase or took custom orders.  We scoured for concerts and events in New Times, contacted the promoters, and asked if we could set up a table to sell. We hit all the college university events to do the same. We had a booth at Park-n-Swap on weekends. Once we got our web site in 1995, everything changed and became much easier!

I’m sharing these memories because I had some funny things happen recently. I had a reporter tell me “I’m doing a story on Chicano pop art! There’s this new emergence of it everywhere!” He wasn’t talking about our business, he was talking about actual Chicano pop art. I told him how we owned the URL for the term and his jaw dropped. “You do?” he said. 

Many people who come to Crafty Chica think that is all there is to me and what I do. They don’t realize that before I launched this site in 2001, I had been designing and hand making (in my living room!) hundreds of individual pieces for retail stores and made a living off of it since 1990. I’m talking Fresh Prince of Bel Air era! 

We first called our business Los Mestizos: Chicano Folk Art and then realized that our art wasn’t folk art, it was more pop art. We take traditional themes and give them a contemporary twist. We’ve always used high contrast colors, trimmed them in glitter and sealed with high gloss varnish. We revamped anything and everything in our style and made it affordable for people to buy. There wasn’t any kind of cool Latino art at stores, so we (and a handful of other artists) were it. It feels good to see all these new artists bubbling up embracing the same concept, discovering it on their own. They are making Chicano pop art too!

I’m so happy that our business is connected to the term. It is the exact reason why I tell people that when they think of a catchy name, BUY THE URL!!! You never know when it will hit!

Through the years, we haven’t had to do as many shows or wholesale orders. Our web site takes care of it. But there are still a few events we do every year because we love them, like Spanish Market. It is 75 artists from AZ and NM who come together to sell their art.

Every year, we get there a bit early and we already have a crowd of people waiting to see what we made. The collectors are the first ones to arrive and they buy all the good stuff right away. I’m wondering how this year will go, because of all the economy whoas. I was at an event last weekend as a patron and the vendors said they had a really good show, so maybe there will be big crowds tomorrow! Regardless, I’m sure it will be an entertaining weekend and whatever we don’t sell we’ll have for holiday orders. (Side note; We’ll have our stuff at Handmade Galleries LA next month!)

Patrick is using the event to debut some new paintings, non-skeleton! Even though his Day of the Dead pieces are our bread and butter, sometimes you have to take risks and do something unexpected. Like painting people with skin. Above is one he did and I love it so much!! We are working on launching Patrick’s Mantastic Arte brand. Right now there is just a placeholder for the site, our web guys are working on the real thing. It will house all of Patrick’s paintings, illustrations and music. He may even add in some how-to projects too! I’ll keep you posted on it.

I’m bummed I didn’t have time to make my fabric collage pillows or purses for Spanish Market. But –  if it goes good the first day, I’ll make them up tomorrow night. Oh well. I’m going to bed because we have to be there at 6:45 a.m. for a live TV segment.

Please come if you live in town!! Heard Museum Spanish Market – 9-5 pm. Central and Monte Vista, Phoenix. It is FREE! And you can see our “La Casa Murillo” show too!

P.S. Bianca had her puppies and they are adorable!


Love & light,

One Response

  1. Dear Crafty Chica,
    I moved to AZ in 1995 and met you and your husband at the Spanish Market! I bought a few pieces. I moved from Chicago and grew up in the suburbs. I didn’t know anything about Dia de los Muertos until that day. My family is Mexican-American and I grew up as the only Latina in the neighborhood. My Mexican friends call me gringa and my non Hispanic friends don’t understand why I don’t speak English…anyways…what I wanted to say is your crafting inspired me and I love creating crafts with Loteria. Thank you for your creations they are awesome and I’m so glad you mentioned that you were doing this before ED HARDY!

    Keep on crafting!

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

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Hi, I’m Kathy, The Crafty Chica! My specialty is creative motivation. I’m an artist, author, and speaker and this is where I share my craft tutorials, artwork, articles, books, product lines, and workshops!

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