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Byline: TOM SHARPE Tom Sharpe (born March 30, 1928) is an English satirical author, born in London and educated at Lancing College and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. After National Service he moved to South Africa in 1951, doing social work and teaching in Natal, until deported in 1961.  

In interview, designer credited female artist, architect with thinking up idea to resemble Mummers Parade

By Tom Sharpe

The New Mexican New Mexico Abbr. NM or N.M. or N.Mex.

A state of the southwest United States on the Mexican border. It was admitted as the 47th state in 1912.

Two women came up with the idea for Zozobra, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 an old interview with the male artist credited for the hideous marionette marionette: see puppet.

Puppet figure manipulated from above by strings attached to a wooden cross or control. The figure, also called a string puppet, is usually manipulated by nine strings, attached to each leg, hand, shoulder, and ear
 that annually has been burned in effigy EFFIGY, crim. law. The figure or representation of a person.
     2. To make the effigy of a person with an intent to make him the object of ridicule, is a libel. (q.v.) Hawk. b. 1, c. 7 3, s. 2 14 East, 227; 2 Chit. Cr. Law, 866.
 for the past 85 years.

The late Will Shuster, who designed the Zozobra figure, usually gets credit for the celebration before the Santa Fe Santa Fe, city, Argentina
Santa Fe, city (1991 pop. 341,000), capital of Santa Fe prov., NE Argentina, a river port near the Paraná, with which it is connected by canal.
 Fiesta each fall.

But according to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation, in a July 30, 1964, interview, the artist said the "seed of the idea" belongs to artist Dorothy Stewart and self-taught architect Kate Chapman.

"They tried to revive an affair similar to the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia," Shuster said, referring to the New Year's Day parade The New Year's Day Parade is parade of 10,000 performers through the streets of the West End of London which takes place annually on 1 January.

The first year the parade took place was 1987 as the Lord Mayor of Westminster's Big Parade.
 that began mysteriously in the late 1700s with men in colorful costumes and blackened black·en  
v. black·ened, black·en·ing, black·ens
1. To make black.

2. To sully or defame: a scandal that blackened the mayor's name.

 faces shouting and shooting guns.

"They put on a New Year's parade and one of the things they had was a figure that was carried on a palenthum of a gloomy one ..." Shuster said. (In the interview transcript, palenthum has a question mark after it; it's not a known word.)

"It was supposed to be a wicked soul or something or other. They had a lot of people with gay-colored whips that were whipping this thing."

The full text of the interview is available from the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art American art, the art of the North American colonies and of the United States. There are separate articles on American architecture, North American Native art, pre-Columbian art and architecture, Mexican art and architecture, Spanish colonial art and architecture,  via

Stewart was an artist who moved from Philadelphia to Santa Fe with her sister, Margretta Dietrich, in 1925, a year after a first figure -- not yet called Zozobra -- was burned in Shuster's backyard. A public trail on Atalaya hill is named for Stewart.

Chapman, wife of archaeologist Kenneth Chapman, was a self-taught architect who designed and built many houses on Santa Fe's east side and remodeled El Zagu[sz]n, now the foundation's headquarters, and the Borrego House, now Geronimo Restaurant, both on Canyon Road.

Stewart and Chapman, proponents of traditional New Mexican architecture, published a book on how to build and maintain adobe structures.

Ray Valdez, who has produced the Zozobra burning for the Kiwanis Club for 20 years, says the foundation's report about Stewart and Chapman jibes with what is already known about the event's history. He said Shuster had a number of stories about the origin.

The first burning, Valdez said, occurred in Shuster's yard on Camino del Monte Sol in 1924. Shuster designed the body and fellow artist Gustave Baumann Gustave Baumann (1881, Magdeburg, Germany - 1971, Santa Fe, New Mexico) was a printmaker and painter, and one of the leading figures of the color woodcut revival in America.  designed the head of the figure, which was originally called "Old Man Groucher," Valdez said.

But the next year, he said, the celebration was influenced by a Yaqui Indian rite involving people using colored whips to beat a Judas-like character on a donkey. "Someone had been down to Mexico -- (Shuster) couldn't recall who," he said. "That's kind of where we think the story of these two women came from -- that they had been the ones down in Mexico."

Not until 1926, Valdez said, did the name Zozobra surface. He said New Mexican editor

E. Dana Johnson, then head of the Fiesta Council, apparently christened the puppet after finding the Spanish word for "gloom" in a dictionary.

Valdez said yet another story indicates Zozobra's origins came during the 1923 Fiesta when artist John Sloan was arrested for heckling a "long-winded" speaker at the opening of Fiesta. When Shuster and other members of Los Cinco Pintores freed Sloan from jail, they began planning a more free-form Fiesta event that wound up as Zozobra, now a 49-foot-tall figure.

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or
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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Aug 28, 2009
Previous Article:POLICE NOTES.

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