New gallery Good Medicine Creatives highlights Seneca artists

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SALAMANCA — Good Medicine Creatives art gallery has opened its doors at 215 Broad St., the former WGWE radio station building, serving as both a classroom and space for 10 local Seneca Nation artists to display and sell their work.

The gallery will give the artists a space to create new art and interact with the public by teaching classes and holding exhibits to educate, connect and inspire the community.

In addition to workshops and classes, the artists plan to have speakers and, eventually, some digital art classes. Artist Penelope Minner said they also plan to have an open studio where the public can observe an artist at work.

Fellow artist Cliff Redeye said he’ll be working on a leather project Wednesdays from 1 to 6 p.m. He invites people to stop in and watch. He’ll be happy to answer any leather-related questions.

Minner said there are stories behind every piece the artists create. A number of her handmade baskets are on display that she has incorporated with her delicate beadwork. She is also showing corn husk dolls, an art that was passed on to her by her mother.

“The dolls make us realize we are not alone,” she explained. “They were a play object for the Haudenosaunee children way back when.”

Minner is trying to make at least six to eight dolls this season representing women in the Haudenosaunee culture. The first one was a no-face doll and it has a story explaining why the corn husk dolls don’t have a face. According to Minner, several different stories have been handed down through the generations between the nations and tribes. She said “it’s all about vanity.”

The basketmaker, shown in a display case, was her second doll. Minner laughed as she said “this one is like a self-portrait of me busy making my baskets.”

There are some particularly moving art pieces in the gallery, especially that of Redeye, who explained a few currently on display. He dedicated a large leather tooled bag to his grandmother, Phoebe Redeye, who went to the Thomas Indian School when orphaned at 7 years old.

“The piece portrays her going to the school as a child and having the native teachings of the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) discouraged by the school matrons around her,” he said. “The piece represents the traditional teachings of the Seneca being replaced by the school. The wooden handle actually came from my grandmother’s house.”

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Good Medicine Creatives is part of the Artist Employment Program under the Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) award in collaboration with the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum (SINM).

Minner said the gallery was made possible through the two-year program that funds employment for 300 artists working in collaboration with community-based organizations across New York state. She said participating artists receive an annual $65,000 salary plus benefits and dedicated time to focus on their artistic practice. Collaboratives, the SINM/OCC, will receive money for hosting the artists and working with them. Each collaboration is different across the state.

“We began showing our work and selling it at the SINM, but this gallery is an extension of the museum and (the artists) are a separate entity,” she said. “Hayden Haynes, director of the Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center at the museum, oversees the program and has worked with the artists from the start.”

Minner said the 10 artists from the Allegany and Cattaraugus territories came together as a group and applied for the grant under the SINM. Redeye said they applied as a group and developed what they wanted and envisioned.

“When we applied for the grant, we had a goal to get a building to create an arts district of sorts. There are so many artists in town and it’s a way to highlight the ones that people don’t realize are here,” he said.

Good Medicine Creatives is an art collective established in 2022 on the Seneca Nation Allegany Territory. As artists and culture bearers, they seek to inspire and be inspired by art in all forms to promote positivity and good medicine for the people.

The artists and culture bearers include Cliff Redeye (leatherwork, painting, carving); Leeora White (traditional Iroquois interpreter, watercolor, crafts; Patrick Redeye (photography, video); Maurice John Jr. (painting, visual art, photography); Tami Watt (graphic art, photography, beadwork); Penelope Minner (baskets, beadwork, corn husk dolls); Karlene Familo (painting, beadwork, skirts, hats); Hilton Johnny-John (gustowehs, gunstocks, rattles, drums, performer); Jocelyn Jones (performing and body artist, public speaker, botanicals); and Brett Maybee (traditional Iroquois orator, musician, and host of a national radio show with Native Voice called Gaënö’ that highlights native artists).

Regular gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit goodmedicinecreatives.com

For information about classes, events and featured speakers, scan the QR code found in the gallery. For more details about Creatives Rebuild New York, visit creativesrebuildny.org.

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