Will Schuster

1893 – 1969

Born William Howard Schuster in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Will Schuster’s interest in art was evident from an early age. But his early studies for an electrical engineering degree, as well as his entry into WWI as a First Lieutenant in the Infantry, prevented him from pursuing art professionally. Schuster’s lungs were damaged in a gas attack during combat. He was ill for quite some time and also developed tuberculosis with the terrible prognosis of being given a year to live. His only chance of a longer life was moving to a clean, dry climate.

Schuster moved to Santa Fe, NM in 1920 and met other artists including one that became his mentor and life- long friend – John Sloan. He joined with four young Santa Fe artists to form a group that called themselves Los Cincos Pintores . Their goal was to promote modernist trends. Their first show was in the new Santa Fe Museum of Art. In 1923, Schuster joined another group that was forming, New Mexico Painters, to promote their work outside of the sparsely populated, fledging State of New Mexico. Probably they were looking for critical recognition by a sophisticated audience as well as increased sales. Their traveling exhibit was shown at the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Art.

Schuster also began etching using his sketches for material. His use of warm, earth tone ink reflects the soil and adobe buildings of the Santa Fe area.

People who have celebrated the communal, September tradition, the burning of Zozobra, may not know that Will Schuster was one of its instigators. He and the editor of the Santa Fe newspaper, with help from artist Gustave Baumann, built the first straw Zozobra figure. It was filled with newspaper soaked in copper sulphate to make it burn quickly as the spectacular beginning of the fiesta-to-get- rid -of -gloom celebration.

During the Depression, Schuster made ends meet by doing ironwork, fresco murals for the WPA, and book illustrations for My Life On The Frontier , a biography by New Mexico Governor M.A. Otero.

Providentially, Will Schuster’s contributions to New Mexico art and culture came about through his serious illness. He lived to the age of 76 in Santa Fe which is pretty good for a man given a year to live at the age of 26.

New Mexico Landscape
2 ¾” x 3 ½” Image size,
including signature margin
7” x 8” Framed size