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Who knew Plattsburgh had an art gallery?

One of the four serigraphs artist Martin Loft will have on exhibition this month at The Strand Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh, New York. (Courtesy Martin Loft)

Onkwehón:we artists are at the front and centre of a new exhibition in Plattsburgh, New York.

Native American Artists Exhibition opened on Friday at The Strand Center for the Arts, featuring over 60 pieces of artwork ranging from acrylic paintings, pen and ink drawings, and installations made by Indigenous artists.

“There’s a very wide variety of art,” said gallery director David Monette. “The collection of incredibly talented artists and their work assembled for this show is truly amazing.”

Monette said this marks the first time an exhibition of its kind has been curated at the centre.

“I started this position last year and I looked at the calendar year in front of me and had a lot of things to fill. I started thinking about how we have so many artists in the area that no one really knows about,” he said.

“When I started to think about different groups of artists, I thought there’s a larger swath of Native American artists here, who most people don’t even know are doing art. I thought it would be neat to highlight them.”

Kahnawa’kehró:non Martin Loft is one of the handful of artists to have his work hang in the gallery

“I was thrilled. It’s an opportunity to show across the border. Plattsburgh is not considered the great arts capital of New York, but it’s an interesting place,” said Loft.

“The Adirondacks are aware that there was/is a Native presence in that area. They haven’t forgotten that our people were in that area, so it really is an opportunity and I’m pleased.

“If you’re an artist or a musician, or whatever, and you keep it in a box under your bed, no one will ever see it. So, hopefully people will like it.”

The work being shown includes four of Loft’s serigraphs and three digital prints. They’re both mediums that he’s been interested in for the past few years.

“It’s a tradeoff. One of them is using new technology – using computers and digital formats so it involves using photographs, doing digital collages. There’s a million colours, a million options, and by using all the options that are involved in Photoshop, you can really create things that have never been seen before, in a digital format,” said Loft.

“Doing silkscreen printing or doing serigraphy is in between doing digital work, photography, and artwork. You manually put all the layers, you manually do all the adjustments, mixing off the inks yourself and you come up with a colour palette that matches what you want.

“But, again, no matter how closely you plan things, there could be big mistakes, but that could turn into something like a happy accident.”

(Courtesy Martin Loft)
(Courtesy Martin Loft)

Other artists highlighted in the exhibition include Sue Herne, Dukon Harris, David Fadden, Leah Shenandoah, and Jordan Thompson.

“The artists brought together for this show have a wonderful diversity of styles with an equally diverse assortment of media and approaches to creating art,” said Monette.

“Leah Shenandoah, an award-winning singer/songwriter, jeweler and multi-media artist, creates art that is an homage to the experience of love and life where she attempts to capture an emotion, or a moment in time of pure love.”

Fadden, from Akwesasne, will have 27 recent paintings on display.

“My work is primarily acrylic on canvas and I do a lot of Native portraiture, various styles – a lot of it is old technique. I have a subject range from elders to younger people – mostly faces,” he told The Eastern Door.

“Another style I started doing a few years ago is like a mosaic. They’re tiles that is almost like pointillism where when you stand back you can see the face or figure but when you examine the painting closer you can see that it is made up of individual tiles that are painted. Within each tile, there’s a Haudenosaunee design, whether it be a wampum belt or from beadwork.”

This exhibit will be on view in The Strand Center’s Main Gallery at 23 Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh, New York, from today, February 3, to February 24.

The opening reception is tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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