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Seminole artists gather for new show opening

Gordon “Ollie” Wareham describes the interlinked artistic, historical and environmental importance of the sweet grass basket in Seminole culture. His aunt, Donna Frank, made the basket he’s holding. (Courtesy Tara Chadwick)

A new exhibit featuring Seminole artists opened Nov. 6 at the History Fort Lauderdale museum. Several of the artists joined museum officials and attendees at the kick-off event.

“Chono Thlee: Sparking a new era in Seminole art,” is scheduled to run through Jan. 10, 2023. The exhibit was created in partnership with the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and was timed to open during Native American Heritage Month – observed each November.

The exhibit highlights new work by the artists and is the ninth art exhibition the museum has done in partnership with tribal members. Curated by Tara Chadwick, curator of exhibitions at History Fort Lauderdale, the works include contemporary and traditional media, including oils, acrylics, fiber, glass, metals, mixed media and digital art.

There are 60 pieces of work on display by 20 Seminole artists. The artists are Durante Blais-Billie, Tia Blais-Billie, Krystle Young Bowers, Wilson Bowers, Nicholas DiCarlo, Donna Frank, Danielle Nelson, Jacob Osceola, Jacqueline Osceola, Jessica Osceola, the late Jimmy Osceola, Leroy Osceola, Mabel Osceola, Victoria Osceola, Daniel Tommie, Samuel Tommie, Shonayeh Tommie, Gordon “Ollie” Wareham, Brian Zepeda and Corinne Zepeda.

At the opening event, there was music, storytelling and artists discussed their work. Another event featuring the artists is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m. at the museum.

Last year’s show was  “A Return to Self: The Art of Healing.” It featured the work of 25 Seminole artists, the largest number ever featured in a single exhibition.

In addition, one of the museum’s permanent exhibits, “From Dugouts to Dream Yachts,” traces a line from the Seminoles through the ever-changing use of Fort Lauderdale’s waterways for travel, commerce and tourism. Daniel Tommie loaned the museum a small dugout canoe for the exhibit – about five feet long by eight inches wide.

For more information, go to or call (954) 463-4431. History Fort Lauderdale is located at 231 SW 2nd Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.

Daniel Tommie, standing in foreground, gave a brief overview of canoe carving in the Seminole tradition. (Courtesy Tara Chadwick)
Nicholas DiCarlo, left, and Samuel Tommie stand by the painting “Seminole Camp 2” by the late Jimmy Osceola. (Courtesy Tara Chadwick)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at