Maybe it’s high time people stopped asking, “Why Buffalo?” about anything. Maybe it’s perfectly logical that the newest addition to Buffalo’s already amazing and renowned art scene is a small commercial gallery on the edge of Allentown that showcases contemporary art is situated on historically Seneca Nation land. And the owner of K Art, David Kimelberg, a venture capitalist/lawyer/art collector, is a member of the Seneca Nation, whose dream to open an art gallery was realized just this past December.
Credit: K Art
K Art is situated in one of the city’s historic buildings, near the corner of Main and Goodell, next door to the Gothic majesty of St. Louis Church, the so-called Mother Church of the Buffalo diocese. The gallery makes up about a third of the 1878 building at 808 Main Street, formerly home to Siracuse Engineers. A co-working space, K Haus, occupies another third, and finally there is the law firm, for which Kimelberg serves as namesake and managing partner. And he still maintains an office in New York City.
Courtesy of the artist and Accola Griefen / Fine Art Photo Credit: Aaron Paden
Ok, we’ll ask the annoying question again, why Buffalo? It’s Kimelberg’s hometown for one thing, and though he moved to the Albany area at an early age, he spent summers here, on Native land near Irving, NY, where he developed a strong awareness and connection to the maternal side of his heritage (his father, a Jewish neuroscientist, hails from London, England). Kimelberg’s mother, a teacher, was very involved in the Seneca Nation. His brother, now deceased, was chief operating officer for them. His great uncle, Cornelius Seneca, was president of the Nation in the 1960s.
Credit: Jason Wyche
Kimelberg was living in the Boston, MA, area when he was recruited back here by the Senecas, returning to Western New York a dozen years ago. “I’d always done work for them,” he says. “And I got an offer when they were looking to move into revenue streams other than gaming.” Today he lives in Williamsville with his wife, a professor at UB teaching in the disciplines of sociology, economic development, and urban poverty, and their 12-year-old daughter.
“This is my passion project,” he says. “I collect contemporary art, and I always wanted to open a gallery. I love the eclectic, arts-focused Allentown area. When I found this building for sale, I knew the high ceilings would be perfect for a gallery. The driving force for me was this idea that people, Native and non-Native, don’t realize there are really high-level Native artists creating contemporary artwork. We want to give more of a voice to those artists and their work.”
Art director Brooke Leboeuf curated the current exhibition, More than a Trace: Native American and First Nations Contemporary Art. The show, set to run through March 12, will likely be extended. Pandemic restrictions have limited the number of visitations, which must be scheduled through the Book A Tour tab on their website, www.thek.art. Featured are works by eleven renowned artists—citizens of Native nations and tribes, born to Native parents, or identifying as hybrid descendants—who explore identity and connectedness in a contemporary world. Gina Adams, Jay Carrier, Lewis deSoto, Jeffrey Gibson, Luzene Hill, Peter Jemison, Brad Kahlhamer, Meryl McMaster, Duane Slick, Peter B. Jones and Marie Watt are the artists. Future shows will feature the works of women, contemplating the scourge of violence against women. Also planned is a show comparing Native and non-Native artwork.
For Kimelberg, a dream come true is history to be shared, through contemporary Native art, in Buffalo, of course!