First Peoples: A Celebration of Native Artists in Southern California Opens This Week

Published April 3, 2017

TARZANA, CALIFORNIA — The San Fernando Valley Arts & Cultural Center will open its latest exhibition, “FIRST PEOPLES: A Celebration of Native Artists in Southern California, on April 4, 2017. The exhibition will be up until April 22, 2017.

FIRST PEOPLES is a unique cultural exhibition showcasing the diverse artwork of 31 Southern California artists with indigenous roots North or South of the Border. Described as “interesting and important” by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, an exhibition co-sponsor, FIRST PEOPLES presents myriad answers to the question: What does it mean to be a Native artist?

  • Photographs of Native Americans provocatively dressed as Hollywood icons.
  • Contemporary baskets and pottery made traditionally. A poignant video interview with a Native grandmother. Paintings, watercolors, prints and mixed media art that interpret Native life, spirituality and identity.
  • An elaborate buckskin dress made for a TV soap star by the family of fabled Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
  • A “domestic installation” that comments on parallels between gang attire and native regalia.

This is but a small sampling of the 109 varied artworks on display (many of which are available for purchase). The generational range of participating artists—from university students to tribal elders—is as diverse as their art practices. Personal Artist Statements and detailed descriptive labels contextualize the art and communicate a unified theme: Far from having “vanished,” indigenous peoples flourish today and continue to be nourished by their Native cultures.

The gala opening reception on Saturday, April 8, from 7 to 10 pm, will feature a blessing by Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians Tribal President Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., performances by Native youth, and light refreshments. The public is invited.

 

Organized by Walter L. Meyer, a Los Angeles based independent curator with a special interest in cross-cultural projects, FIRST PEOPLES is being presented by the San Fernando Valley Arts & Cultural Center.

First Peoples Flyer

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