By Jill McManus
The charming Revelation Gallery has played a welcome part in the Village art and music scene for the last couple of years. This month the gallery is taking the rare step—even in the Village—of featuring outstanding Native American/Alaska Native artists who are living in urban settings, but whose work reflects aspects of their Native heritage and identity. While there have been other shows along these lines, there definitely should be more. The presentation at the Revelation Gallery, located next door to St. John’s in the Village, at 224 Waverly Place just west of 7th Avenue, opened on December 1st. The gallery is open weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and the show runs until December 30th.
These talented “urban Native” artists have branched far from standardized Native American styles and subjects encouraged at Indian schools a century ago. Painter Nadema Agard (Cherokee/ Lakota/Powhatan) is a member of the “first generation born off the rez,” and her vividly-colored forms declare the strong Native feminine energy that suffuses the city’s own energy. Mario Martinez, a Yaqui from Arizona, delights the eye with images that subtly reveal echoes of his traditional heritage amid elements of his present city surroundings. Athena LaTocha (Lakota/Ojibwe), another abstract painter, focuses on textures and densities of the earth’s natural substances and outlines, showing their inherent beauty and yet indicating a brooding sense of danger and damage being inflicted upon them. Vernon Bigman (Dine, Navajo), enters a dreamscape where serpents hold a key to the meaning and understanding of a constantly changing world.
In recent decades, these artists have gradually carved a place for themselves as individuals, not only as “Indian artists.” Each imparts a vision, a voice. Their presence in this show relates a powerful message of persistence, adaptation, and survival.
At Revelation Gallery social distancing is being observed for safety, and masks are required. For further information, please call St. John’s in the Village: 212-243-6192.
Jill McManus, co-curator of the Revelation Gallery show, is a NYC journalist and jazz pianist.