If you are attending Indian Market this weekend or spending time at La Fonda on the Plaza, no doubt you’ll spot Ruth and Sid Schultz in the crowd. Just look for Sid’s signature pants – he’s been wearing those special pants to Indian Market for years! You may also recognize the couple from some of our recent ads.
Ruth and Sid have been involved with Indian Market for many years, and they have been guests at La Fonda for almost as long. Ruth joined the SWAIA board in 1981. That’s where she first met La Fonda’s owner at the time, Sam Ballen. Talk about a small world. It turns out that when Sam and Ruth were children, they both attended PS73 in the Bronx! Ruth and Sid were staying at another Santa Fe hotel at the time, but it didn’t take long for Sam to convince them to make La Fonda their home during their yearly trips to Indian Market. He put Ruth in touch with La Fonda’s director of sales, Mickey. Another small world moment for Ruth – it turns out she knew Mickey from their time together at the Albuquerque Medical Auxiliary. Some things are just meant to be.
In those early years of Indian Market, La Fonda was SWAIA’s headquarters. The office was located off La Fonda’s mezzanine in what Ruth describes as a “broom closet”. She and Sid volunteered to check in artists at a table set up in front of the fireplace behind La Plazuela with, as Sid describes them, “Indian Market matriarchs Anita Da and Geronima Montoya”. Pottery and jewelry booths were set up in the New Mexico room. Weaving was in what is now the Ballen Boardroom – only half the size of what it is today. Kachinas and sculpture artists were located in the Coronado room.
Back in those days there weren’t any written standards for artists showing at Indian Market. Ruth made it her job to change that. She talks proudly of her efforts to learn about the art, the artists, the traditional ways of creating the work. She sees her main contribution to Indian Market as having collected all of that material and writing it down. As she says, “an educated public will know what they are buying.” Ruth stepped down from the Wheelwright board this year after more than 30 years of service with the Wheelwright Museum, SWAIA, and the Albuquerque Arts Board but I know her contributions will be felt for years to come. And, she and Sid will continue to attend Indian Market. They continue to enjoy seeing artists they’ve known for years progress to the next level and watch young artists finally break through.
Many people have asked Ruth what she’ll do now that she’s retired from the Wheelwright board. Because she and Sid are featured in some of our ads, one friend teased that she now has a career in modeling. For me, they will continue to be mentors in my own fledgling Native art collection and perfect role models and mentors to me about what it means to make a commitment to giving back to the community in quiet, humble, yet powerful ways.