716 Transformers: The Indigenous Art Promoter

By Nancy J. Parisi

Published on

An impeccably renovated late-Victorian brick building in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood is the headquarters of K Art Gallery, one of a handful of galleries in the country dedicated to promoting, exhibiting, and selling contemporary Indigenous artwork by established and rising artists. Founder/owner Dave Kimelberg, who opened K Art in 2020, was born in Western New York and is a member of the Seneca Nation (Bear clan). “K Art fills a niche nationally, not just locally, because there are very few art galleries focusing on Indigenous contemporary art,” he says, sitting in the lounge area on the gallery’s ground floor as staff members come and go, readying the next exhibition. A lawyer and venture capitalist by trade, Kimelberg was the founding CEO of Seneca Holdings, the economic development arm of the Seneca Nation. He also helped to reconfigure and expand the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, New York before purchasing and renovating the K Art building in 2019. “Our job is promoting and selling artwork – and the ultimate bonus is getting work acquired by major museums,” he says, ticking off an impressive roster of brand name museums that have made acquisitions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, and Buffalo’s own AKG. “There are so many contemporary indigenous artists and people don’t realize that there are 575 recognized tribes in the U.S. and each has its own culture,” he says. “Western tribes are very different than eastern tribes and the work by artists really reflects that. Our mission is to expose that.”

716 Tips

“Go to the AKG. The works on display in it are amazing. It’s a game changer for Buffalo — an international-caliber art museum in a small city.”

Nancy J. Parisi headshot

Nancy J. Parisi

Nancy is a social documentation photographer based in Buffalo, NY.