Guadulesa Rivera Discusses Being A Cherokee Indian in the Art World Today

A new leader of the rapidly growing ranks of female abstract artists in Southern California, the award winning fine artist Guadulesa has become known for abstract or loosely figurative works of art, which reflect spontaneity, strong rhythm, texture, and color blends.

Exhibitions at Ligoa Duncan Gallery in New York City led to her work being sent to Paris in 1981, where she won Le Prix de Peinture du Centenaire de Raymond Duncan at L’Academie des Duncan. Guadulesa’s work is also included in the Massachusetts collections of the Black Indian Inn, the Harriet Tubman Gallery, and The Cambridge Lawyers Guild. Further of her works are also be found in private collections throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico and St. Croix, as well as Israel and Spain.

In 1991, she received a Drylongso Award from Community Change, Inc., and in 1992, Guadulesa was the recipient of an Individual Project Grant by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

guadulesa home run
Guadulesa at home

Guadulesa Rivera: I am of mixed blood. My grandmother and other elders taught me the Cherokee way, and I continued to explore our culture into adulthood. We have African and European blood as well, so I am really an “American mix.”

I grew up in Boston and “fit” very well with other mixed blood communities, especially Puerto Ricans. I grew up speaking Spanish also, and my first husband was Puerto Rican, so to this day, many people think of me as Puerto Rican. I am now married to a man of Mexican descent. I instill in my children a consideration and respect for all their ancestors. As with other mixed bloods, we are not enigmas to each other.

Hollywood Sentinel: Tell us please about your Native American tribe – lineage?

Guadulesa: I have Tsalagi (Cherokee) blood from three of my grandparents. My mother’s family is from the Eastern Cherokee Band, descended from those who fought to remain on our land. We still have relatives living on original Cherokee land.

My father’s father was born on the reservation in what was called Indian Territory. That side of my family endured the infamous Trail of Tears. Some Cherokee dipped down into Mexico with the Seminoles, but found betrayal there as well. They entered the US side of Texas, but the political climate drove them eventually to Indian Territory, anyway, which became the state of Oklahoma. Native Americans did not become citizens of the United States until 1924.

Hollywood Sentinel: What Native American practices or customs if any do you follow?

Guadulesa: Most Native people have a deep respect and love of Nature. There is much to be learned from observing the natural rhythms of life. The traditional Cherokee follow a path of Right Relationship. In that sense, we seek peace with all our relations. You might compare that with the East Indian view of karma. What we pour forth into the world around us will surely determine how others view and relate to us. On an individual level, if we want peace, then we must hold peace in our hearts. We cannot just speak of peace, we have to embody it. Whatever we seek in life we should hold in our heart. The mind follows, and the body acts in accordance.

Hollywood Sentinel: What should Native Americans do today to get fair treatment?

Guadulesa: The question I would rather here would be, “What are others doing to treat Native Americans fairly?” Some Native people are well educated and live quite well. We follow our own self- determination. We are certainly not the only people who face discrimination in this country. Those tribes who have faced the worst treatment have been those on rich, arable land or land filled with minerals, that others want so much.

Hollywood Sentinel: What was your reaction and thoughts on the Trayvon Martin verdict?

Guadulesa: I was very disappointed. I know that the jurors had a very tough decision to make. I have a young nephew in Florida, who could easily find himself in such a predicament. A Neighborhood Watch is just that – a Watch. That young man did nothing wrong, until he was threatened. He happened to be stronger that the man who misjudged him and then shot him. What a cowardly act. Trayvon had the right to walk down the street. In my opinion, the State of Florida has to take responsibility for arming people who don’t know how to handle themselves.

Hollywood Sentinel: Have you experienced any discrimination racially or with sexism as an artist? Please explain.

Guadulesa: No, fortunately, I tend to hold my own in the world.

Hollywood Sentinel: What is your view of the art scene in Los Angeles?

Guadulesa: Sometimes it is easier to navigate in a smaller city. Los Angeles is so spread out, that it is often difficult to support fellow artists or to attract an audience from another side of the city. For that reason, I believe many artists are trying to promote their work via online galleries.

Hollywood Sentinel: What are your artistic plans for the rest of this year and next year?

Guadulesa: I am a member of the Arroyo Arts Collective, and we always have a Discovery Tour of Northeast artist studios in November, just before Thanksgiving. I’ll open my studio again this year to the touring public. I live so close to downtown. I want to explore some new galleries for next year. I recently made some contacts in Las Vegas. There is a downtown Vegas art scene that is starting to grow.

Hollywood Sentinel: You are launching a new Kickstarter campaign this month. Will you tell us briefly about that?

Guadulesa: I am seeking backers for a project I call Matrix V: Tones of Resonance. It will be a book, based on notes that I took while painting a series of works that were influenced by the five healing tones of ancient Cherokee medicine practices. I called it the Matrix V series, and the book will include vibrant images of the works. I will share the very unique occurrences which I experienced during that artistic journey through sound and paint.

Hollywood Sentinel: How can people contact you who want to work with you and buy your art?

Guadulesa: They may e-mail me at [email protected]. I may also be contacted through my current website at