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Executive director of Indian Market board is out

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

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Ira Wilson (Courtesy Southwestern Association for Indian Arts

SANTA FE – Two years ahead of its centennial, the Santa Fe Indian Market has decided to change management.

The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the nonprofit that runs the Native American art market that draws dozens of thousands to Santa Fe each August, has announced that its board of directors last week unanimously voted to end its relationship with Executive Director Ira Wilson and to conduct a search for new senior leadership.

In announcing the termination, the board’s chairman, Tom Teegarden, thanked Wilson, who is Diné, for a successful 2019 market. “He performed his job well,” Teegarden said in a statement.

SWAIA said that two senior staff members, Yvonne Gillespie and Amanda Crocker, will share the interim directorship while the board searches for a director to lead the organization through its centennial year, 2021, and into its second century.

Market representatives declined to discuss why they chose not to move forward with Wilson as executive director. Wilson could not be reached for comment.

In an interview, Gillespie said that SWAIA is going to conduct a nationwide search to fill the executive director position, but will look closely at local candidates. “We’re going to take our time to find someone who is very dynamic to bring us into the next century,” she said.

There are ongoing discussions about partnering with the city of Santa Fe and nearby pueblos for the centennial celebration, Gillespie said. She said SWAIA has met with Mayor Alan Webber to talk about expanding Indian Market festivities to the south side of Santa Fe to make the event more inclusive.

In February 2018, SWAIA appointed Wilson, who spent 26 years as lead buyer for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, executive director. Wilson is credited for transforming a small gift shop there into a global online resource for Native art, and is known for singing and playing guitar in the Native band Red Earth.

An Arizona native from the Four Corners area, Wilson replaced Dallin Maybee, who was SWAIA’s executive director for nearly four years.

Indian Market has drawn fire in recent years for changing its application procedure, effectively ending tenure for longtime participants.

In its announcement about changing directors, SWAIA also said it is revising applications for the 2020 Indian Market, which it will begin accepting on Nov. 1. Gillespie said the nonprofit is making efforts to streamline the application process, allowing artists to store images online and use them again if they are less than three years old.

This summer, SWAIA hired two full-time staff members. Eric Villegas of Acoma Pueblo became the organization’s artist services manager in July. He will support artists through the process of application, acceptance and booth assignments, as well as participation in the summer and winter markets, the nonprofit said.

Jamie Schulze, of Northern Cheyenne/Lakota descent, was appointed membership and volunteer coordinator after completing a contract at this year’s market. Schulze is a former owner of the Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant in Taos Ski Valley.

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