Ancient Traders Gallery

Ancient Traders Gallery is in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, an area with a significant Native American population. It’s nearby, but I was unaware of the gallery until I read an article in the local paper about the current show, Generations, Legacy, and Tradition. There were carvings (pipestone, horn, alabaster), paintings, quilting — and beadwork. I have a beautiful glossy brochure — you can see a pdf of it on the website, under current art exhibit -> opening event flier (I can’t get it to link, sorry – and the show is until February 23rd, so the document will probably be removed after that).

My favorite quilter was Vi Colombe (Modoc); her bio from the gallery includes that she received a 2006 Bush Artist’s Fellowship, has a degree in fashion, and has been a wardrobe coordinator for a national rodeo finals competiton. Great color combos, interesting and pleasing modifications of classic quilt patterns.

Dwayne Wilcox (Oglala Lakota) had some great ledger drawings, and is also a Bush Foundation Fellow. Great sense of dark ironic humor. One painting is called “Cheese with that Whine,” and depicts an Indian in regalia, holding a piece of paper saying “broken treaties,” and being served government cheese and port by butlers, image of it here.

There were 3 beaders whom I particularly liked. I picked up a card with a picture of a turtle medallion done by Doug Limon (Ojibwe/Oneida). The center of each medallion is a turtle, and the center of the turtle is various metal objects such as buffalo head nickles. They were well-displayed in eye-catching groups; I think smaller things can be more effectively displayed this way.

Karen Beaver (Yupik/Mandan/Hidatsa) was another great bead artist. She had a shadow box about Jim Thorpe that I particularly liked. On a medallion was a very realistic beaded image of Thorpe, also two medallions that looked like gold medals, ink drawings, a quote saying that he was the greatest athlete ever (from the King of Sweden, I think?), and more. Late last year, I saw other pieces of hers at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

Todd Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota) and his story sticks! He’s continuing to keep a family 7-generation winter count on them. There was one in the gallery, it’s not the one on this website, but similar. The pictographs are amazing. I couldn’t walk all the way around the piece though, I wish I could. (Actually, I wish I could pick it up, but that wasn’t happening either!) He also beaded (and put an animal head on) Pez dispensers. The title was “Reservation Diabetes Dispensers.”

Here are some other images of the pieces in the gallery. If you are so inclined, take a browse!

Then I went to gift shop/trading post next door. A gentleman came in with a great carved walking stick with a horn handle with metal inlay while I was there, and also pulled out some pipestone carvings that he’d made. Negotiations commenced. There was beadwork there, both for sale and old pieces on exhibit. And, well, I bought beads….

A great way to spend a couple of hours!

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