New Mexico Art Tells its History

Blessing of the Woodmen

Blessing of the Woodmen, 1939
Will Shuster (American, 1893 - 1969)
oil on Masonite, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm)
Museum purchase with funds from Ms. Patrick Hurley, Mrs. Edgar Rossin, Eugene Fiske and I.M. Smalley, 1966

Will Shuster was born in Philadelphia and studied to be an electrical engineer while at the same time pursuing his interest in art. During his military service in WWI he was gassed, became ill, and developed tuberculosis. At the suggestion of his good friend, the artist John Sloan, he moved to the dry Southwest and settled in Santa Fe in 1920. Along with Jozef Bakos, Fremont Ellis, Willard Nash and Walter Mruk, Shuster founded Los Cinco Pintores, Santa Fe's first modernist art group. These young painters considered themselves the radical young avant-garde artists of Santa Fe and held their inaugural exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe exciting the public with their vivid color and brushwork. During the Depression he took on a WPA project painting murals at Carlsbad Caverns. Shuster is especially recognized for his 1926 invention of the enormous effigy puppet, Zozobra (Old Man Gloom), which is burned each year at Santa Fe's annual Fiesta.

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