Camden Art Shoppes will celebrate Native American Heritage on Friday, 11/18/22 and 11/25/22 at 1011 Galleria (1011 Broad Street) in Camden, SC, the newest addition to the growing downtown Camden art scene. Make an evening out of it! Appetizers and drinks available at Salud’s Restaurant. Reservations suggested for dinner.
Today we are introducing and honoring Michael Cruz who will be featured on 11/18/22, 5:00-7:00pm.
By Judy Watts
Michael Cruz’ rich Iroquois history and dedication to native american art was fueled very early by his mother, who prophetically named him Michael Angelo. His mother is full-blooded Native American from the Six Nations reservation. Cruz says art was an escape from the rough upstate New York neighborhood where he grew up.
“Art put me in a different place.”
At first his art centered on the Iroquois but a meeting with a Navajo code talker at a Gathering of Nations at which all tribes came together broadened his vision.
“It was after that meeting that I began painting not just Iroquois but all natives.”
Cruz and his wife, Tammy, who have two grown sons, moved to South Carolina in June.
“My mother passed away and my father didn’t like living alone so we moved here.”
Their move to Elgin has been an easy transition for the couple.
“The hospitality and slower pace has been good.”Tammy
As for Cruz’ art, it had just gotten a big boost in New York just as the Covid pandemic hit. “One of the Native American casinos had requested I bring pieces to them, with my status card (to verify his Native American lineage),” Cruz says. He had hoped they would keep one or two but they kept the eight pieces he had taken and one by one they all sold. And then the pandemic caused the casino to be closed. But his talent and dynamic art is already finding success locally.
“I sold a painting of actor Wes Studi this week.”he says pointing to a blank spot on the gallery wall which will soon be filled with another piece.
Cruz’ works primarily in oil on canvas but has explored most other media. His paintings are a sleek, sophisticated homage to heritage with symbolism and obvious love of his subjects. He says he’s always working, always refining his pieces, with layers and layers of color that bring the subject forward.
He also is an artisan, making rattlesnake skin quivers, bows and arrows, all of natural native materials.
Cruz says he’s always thinking of the next project, while others linger in the background over time.
He has one painting he’s been working on for 17 years that is a homage to his late sister. In the background of the painting is an image of his sister visible only under a black light.
“Certain colors in it I can’t get just right.”
Cruz’ paintings and artisan pieces are for sale at Camden Art Shoppes. He will be at the gallery from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 to meet visitors and answer questions about his art.