August 2, 2013
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The newly expanded and more visible Cherokee Arts Center “Spider Gallery” is officially open in downtown Tahlequah.
A ribbon cutting for the gallery was held Wednesday at its new location in the Cort Mall.
“This new space gives the Cherokee Nation an opportunity to showcase our fabulous artists’ work,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “It’s not only a place to display it, but a place to sell it, a place for us to help advertise it around the world, a place for us to help Native American artists carry on our culture, our history, our art and the story of the Cherokee people.”
The Spider Gallery, formerly located on Water Street, has made its new home in downtown Tahlequah inside the revitalized Cort Mall. There, more than 50 Cherokee artists from eight area counties, as well as Alabama, New Mexico and Texas, have art on display. It ranges from traditional pottery, jewelry and paintings to contemporary assemblage sculptures, with costs ranging from $10 to $12,000.
The name of the gallery is taken from traditional Cherokee folklore.
“It’s a reference to the Cherokee legend of the water spider that brought the fire, light and warmth to the dark and cold side of the earth,” said Callie Chunestudy, Arts Center cultural specialist. “Like the water spider, we aim to bring illumination through art by fostering and celebrating the talent and ingenuity of the Cherokee people.”
The Tahlequah Cort Mall was bought by the Cherokee Nation and recently renovated as part of the tribe’s downtown revitalization efforts. More than $90,000 was spent to repair and convert a space to use for the Spider Gallery. The building is also now home to the Charles L. Head ONE FIRE Victim Services office and Cherokee Nation Attorney General’s office.