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Arts & Culture

Native American Culture Takes the Spotlight in San Diego’s Art Scene

About the Event

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with an inspiring artistic journey at Exclusive Collections Gallery (EC Gallery). Join us from November 10 to 12 for the “Native American Art Show,” highlighting the rich cultural heritage of the nation’s top Native American artists through remarkable sculptures, paintings, and mixed media pieces. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore exceptional creativity in one place.

The weekend show will be held Fri & Sat 6:00pm – 9:00pm and Sun 1:00pm – 4:00pm where attendees get to meet internationally acclaimed Native American artists, Cara Romero, Gerald Clarke, Ruben Chato, Johnny Bear Contreras, George Rivera, Jeremy Salazar, Son of Picasso, Votan, and Cody Sanderson. There will also be a VIP reception on Saturday, Nov 11 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.

The EC Gallery Native American show was conceptualized by Ruth-Ann Thorn, a registered tribal member of the Rincon Band of Luiseño/Payómkawichum Indians in Southern California. She is an Indigenous woman warrior, and her ability to overcome adversity speaks to her resilience as a Native Woman. As a tribal leader, art dealer, producer/host of the national cable shows “Art of the City” and “This is Indian Country,” her artistic vision as an entrepreneur is fueled by a passion for her community.

“10-million Native Americans live on this continent and the art in this space is tremendous,” said Ruth-Ann Thorn, Founder, EC Gallery. “Our goal of hosting this Native American art show is to bring the finest Native American art in the country to San Diego and invite all of Southern California to see these one-of-a-kind works of art as well as celebrate our Native American Culture.”

EC Gallery is the FIRST and ONLY Native American owned business in the Gaslamp area. When the Gaslamp area was developed in the mid-1800s native people weren’t allowed to own businesses. Ruth-Ann is the first tribal member to open and operate a business in the area, making this a historic milestone for downtown.

In addition to meeting the acclaimed artists, guests will also be able to enjoy Native American wine, beer, light bites, and music. EC Gallery always goes big for these events.

EC Gallery is located area at 621 Fifth Street, San Diego, CA 92101. In the heart of downtown San Diego at the corner of Fifth and Market in the Gaslamp area.

RSVP is recommended. The cost for the show is free and open to all ages — except the Friday VIP event where guests must be 21+. Please visit their web site at to RSVP and for more show details.

About the artists:
Cara Romero, an enrolled citizen of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, is a contemporary fine art photographer who challenges stereotypes of Native Americans. She employs modern photography techniques to vividly depict Indigenous perspectives and everyday supernaturalism. Her work has been featured in PBS’ Craft in America and is widely recognized in public and private collections worldwide.

Gerald Clarke is a sculptor and conceptual artist from the Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians, who delves into contemporary Native American issues through his impactful creations. In 2020, the Palm Springs Art Museum showcased the first major retrospective of his innovative work. Besides his artistry, he serves as a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California Riverside, passionately educating students about Native American art, history, and culture. Clarke’s unique perspective reflects the rich heritage of the Cahuilla people.

Ruben Chato, an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Nation Tribe of Texas with a proud Mescalero Apache heritage, is a versatile artist, actor, and writer. His art, characterized by vibrant spiritual colors and mixed media naturalistic Expressionism, draws inspiration from nature, often crafted on wooden panels. Renowned for his diverse portfolio, Ruben’s professional arts encompass sculpture, fine art, furniture art, and limited-edition Apache Warrior Bone Knives, which grace notable collections across the United States, Europe, and Canada.

Johnny Bear Contreras, a member of the San Pasqual Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, is an accomplished self-taught sculptor. He skillfully blends his cultural traditions with contemporary design techniques, creating unique and innovative artworks. Johnny’s art reflects a fusion of heritage and modernity in his sculptures.

George Rivera has over 20 years of experience and is renowned for his monumental stone and bronze sculptures, paintings, and architectural design work. His creative inspiration is deeply rooted in the Native American Pueblo culture, reflecting the symbolism and realism of pueblo life, particularly focusing on pueblo dancers. Among his notable works is a 12-ton buffalo sculpture carved from Virginia soapstone, serving as a symbol of cultural and economic stability for his tribe.

Jeremy Salazar, a self-taught contemporary painter based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, specializes in vibrant acrylic portraitures that skillfully blend abstraction and realism, with a focus on eyes and facial expressions. Despite never having received formal art training, his work breathes life into his subjects, making them more realistic and full of depth, while his use of color sets the mood and atmosphere. Raised on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, his humble upbringing has significantly influenced his dedication to representing authentic Native arts.

Son of Picasso, a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma, is known for his vibrant and highly stylized paintings depicting Indian life and heritage. His intricate figures, inspired by his people’s history and grandparents’ stories, reflect a remarkable competence with color and composition. Notably, Nelson achieved recognition at a young age, winning awards and even gracing the cover of Indian Artist magazine.

Votan, a Maya and Nahua artist based in Los Angeles and Albuquerque, is renowned for his powerful city murals. With a unique fusion of Native and mainstream U.S. perspectives, he creates compelling and empowering art pieces. Raised amidst the emergence of Los Angeles street art, Votan employs tagging, graffiti, and wheatpasting to make impactful statements in community spaces.

Cody Sanderson is known for his imaginative, often playful style. He uses traditional Navajo techniques that are inspired by his surroundings. Sanderson loves the challenge in creating something different and with this as his motivation, the results are a completely new, cutting-edge visual aesthetic, both contemporary and authentic. Working from his studio in Santa Fe, Sanderson often utilizes hand-fabricating techniques such as stamping, forging, casting, and bending to craft his award-winning jewelry.

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