Spend a day at the market

-A A +A

By Melissa Riedel-Espinoza

On a lazy afternoon, the last thing many people want to do is head to Santa Fe to look at galleries. The mention of the word can be enough to make some people look around for undone chores.
However, Hillside Market, at 86 Old Las Vegas Hwy., has a range of services that might change some minds. With work from more than 30 New Mexican artists, antiques, a koi rescue area, a coffee shop and a large greenhouse, Hillside Market is appealing to people of all ages.
Owners Tisha Sjostrand, Kate Sjostrand and Pam Fennell created a space for people to browse, have a cup of coffee, meet local artists, buy local produce and take a class or two. This is no high-pressure sales situation. Staff members and artists are available to give information, but customers can enjoy the items on display at their own pace, without being pushed or prodded, which is helpful, as there is so much to see.
The variety of merchandise includes items one expects to see in art galleries, such as paintings and sculptures, but also includes jewelry, rugs, furniture and many old treasures. Another important facet of this business is that the artists are not from elsewhere, merely selling their work in New Mexico, so all purchases support New Mexico’s economy.
On the last Friday of each month, featured artists’ exhibits are introduced at an event where there is food and music, in addition to the artist being available to talk about his or her work.
Dennis McMillan is currently featured. He provided the country (and Los Alamos National Laboratory) with furniture in decades past, and has now scaled back his operations to a smaller, more custom business with solid-wood furniture creations. Robert Anderson, an oil painter, is also featured.
Anderson’s work, includes landscapes with texture and stage scenes with themes of freedom and the conflict between good and evil. It has been on display in Canyon Road galleries for more than a decade, but he and his art have found a home in the Hillside Market, where Anderson speaks with customers and paints in the natural light that fills the central space.
Hillside Market’s membership model might be appealing to artists. There is a monthly commitment that varies per artist and the gallery receives a 15 percent commission on each piece sold. The artists have a connection to the gallery and a say in promoting their pieces. The space is large and bright, with ample space so the showroom isn’t crowded, and it has been set up in little room-like areas to show customers what pieces might look like in a home.
Hillside Market is actively seeking new talent, with a constantly changing inventory, so customers see new scenes each time they visit.
After walking through the main gallery space, customers enter a central area with more artwork, along with a fountain, tables and a coffee shop. The shop, run by Randy Haynes, has a changing assortment of local and organic beverages.  
The greenhouse, which is accessed through glass doors in the back of the central area, is a model for water-wise, small-scale indoor growing. Coffee grounds go into a worm farm, which feeds tanks of rescued koi. Once used, the koi water fertilizes the produce gardens, which are grown in slanted containers. The run-off is then collected and re-used for the koi.
In addition to growing their own produce, Hillside Market is also a food co-op, partnering with Beneficial Farms.
Promoting sustainable living is a major part of the Hillside Market’s mission, and in the future, they are looking at even more food offerings. Education is also a part of their mission, so they offer classes that cover topics such as cooking and food preservation.
The people at Hillside Market are easy to talk with and open to answering questions. The greenhouse and koi areas provide low-water ideas for what can be done in one’s own small growing space, and there are tables indoors and outside for sitting down with a cup of coffee and talking with friends.
For more information, visit santafehillsidemarket.com.