In these tough times, it’s an all too common headline in the art world—another gallery is closing its doors. Amidst the resounding “We just can’t do it anymore. After X amount of years, we’ve decided to shut down.”
It’s wonderful and refreshing, in what seems to be a dreary landscape for gallery owners, to hear of an artist, opening his own shop just before the holidays. What’s even more inspiring is that gallery owner, Silvester Hustito, is not only young, but Native American—Zuni, in fact. While Native American-owned galleries are not unheard of, they are certainly not commonplace, and I think it says a great deal about where Native American art and art, in general, is heading.
Hustito’s new gallery FireGod , located just off of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza on East Palace Avenue, was created to be a home for contemporary Native American artists. FireGod held it’s grand opening on Friday, November 6 as part of Santa Fe’s First Friday Arts Walk, and I was fortunate enough to attend the party!
While some of the artists whose work is currently showing at FireGod already have a following, namely sculptor Doug Coffin and potter Les Namingha (of late Namingha has been trying his hand at painting), Hustito hopes to help all of his artists build public awareness for their art as many of them continue their rise to success. And that’s just the kind of graciousness you’d expect from Hustito after you meet him. After all, his last name means “justice.” So humble is he that you would barely believe that Mr. Hustito, too, is seeing his star ascend quickly in the Native American art world. And he also seems to have attracted a diverse and humble group of fellow artists that includes Navajo encaustic artist Michael Billie and, very soon, Jemez potter Kathleen Wall. Wall, who comes from a long line of respected artists, has received much acclaim at Indian Market in the last few years, and her current exhibition at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (extended through May 2010) is a must-see.
Highlights of the current show at FireGod include stunning ledger art by Chicago resident and Institute of American Indian Arts graduate Chris Pappan, the unusual and inspiring works of Michael Billie, the work of master sculptor Doug Coffin, and of course, the dynamic work of Silvester Hustito. The gallery also offers collectors gorgeous textile pieces and handmade Native American jewelry.
Watch a video documenting the opening reception of FireGod Gallery featuring interviews with artist and gallery owner Silvester Hustito, Michael Billie and Doug Coffin here:
Join FireGod’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Santa-Fe-NM/FIREGOD-gallery/117352025881.