Ananse Ntontan Creative Arts Gallery

394 Genesee Street 716-310-0217

snap shots of some of the many original items you will find at the creative arts gallery

snap shots of some of the many original items you will find at the creative arts gallery

Since the 80's creative and lively entrepreneurial couple Lionel and Gail Lucas have been in a successful business partnership making items once long ago unobtainable in the City of Buffalo forever at our fingertips. 

Their transformation from being well known vendors to their first location, Flight 104 that was located onElmwood Avenue in the heart of Allen Town, was just the beginning. Now in their new location and under anew name "Ananse Ntontan Creative Arts Gallery" (which means wisdom and creativity) was born. The shopping gallery is a paradise of authenticAfrocentric craftsmanship. The large space showcases a variety of quality imports and specialty items, from unique statues, spectacular masks and carvings, paintings, art and jewelry to the exclusive line of colorful clothing designs by Gail Lucas all which makes for a positively full shopping experience. Lionel may even offer a little history on the artifacts so you know more about your purchase aside from loving it! Taking creative expression a step further, this year they launched a new wing of the store, an intimate performance and event space where poet/author Celeste Tisdale has already graced the stage! 

The gallery will be offering I 0% off your purchase if you mention this article so stop by and take advantage of the discount this holiday season! Store hours are daily from 12- 6pm . 

-Leah Hamilton



             Sharon and Kenneth Holley

             Sharon and Kenneth Holley

Formerly known as Haramee Books and Crafts and now as Zawadi Books proprietors Sharon and Kenneth Holley have been dedicated to the community providing the most reliable source for informational material about people of African descent for over 35 years. Both business names are from the Kiswahili language ( Harambee- Let’s All Pull Together and Zawadi-Gift) .They carry hard to find African and African American materials, fiction, non-fiction, history and children’s books. Zawadi books also carries an array of African inspired novelty items. They hold book signings, discussions and workshops for students and teachers. Zawadi Books strongly believes in promoting the good in our community and is open to anyone curious about history and cultural preservation. They also vend at a number of local community events and locations. Stop by their new locationat 1382 Jefferson (across from Jim Bell Cleaners). They are open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Also, be sure tocatch them at this year’s Kwanzaa celebration on the first night, Monday, December 26, where they will present, “Kwanzaa in Buffalo - An Historical Perspective.”- Leah Hamilton

Challenger Change Maker : Cherrise Walker-BettsFounder of Our Curls Inc. 

Cherrise Walker-Betts is the president & founder of Our Curls, Inc.

                  Cherrise Walker Betts

                  Cherrise Walker Betts

Our Curls Inc. provides women of color battling cancer with tailored cosmetic and ethnic beauty care services; promoting and sustaining a sense of culture and beauty . Cherrise has trail blazed the path of providing this unique and necessary service in her community all while being in the fight of her own life with the contender, breast cancer. 

“Every woman should be represented and not have to settle with a product or service that does not sustain nor represent their sense of culture,” she said. “ Our Curls, Inc. is empowering women of color with cancer with a choice to thrive, to feel beautiful and a choice not to settle.” Among the products and services provided are:  free ethnic wigs and wig trimming, distributing chemo care bags to cancer treatment facilities, support groups (hear me),  free makeover sessions ( pamper me), providing referrals, sponsoring                                      women to attend oncology camps, assistance with family fun, food and daily activities, and much more. The compassion of Cherries Walker-Betts for empowering others and improving quality of life has shinned forth through her work with families for nearly 15 years since earning her Bachelors in Social Work from D’Youville College in 2001. ( She later received her MBA from University of Phoenix in 2012). Her extensive knowledge of the human service system proves to be an asset when working with cancer patients in securing services that will benefit them socially, emotionally and financially. 

“Our services are open to all women of WNY but strategically tailored to meet the needs of women of color as they have been underserved in this area because Black Women with Cancer Matter Too”!   Our Curls Inc. Learn more about Our Curls or on facebook  or contact Cherisse at 716 803-4624.

Challenger Change Makers Spotlight : 

Valerie L. Edwards

Founder /Executive Director Valeria L. Edwards  

Founder /Executive Director Valeria L. Edwards  

Valerie Lenese Edwards was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and is also a current resident. Presently employed with the Buffalo Public School District (in many capacities) for over 10 years, Valerie has gained the trust and has made a positive impact on children at the elementary level. With the ongoing support of her husband, children, parents and siblings, Valerie has managed to achieve an AA in Early Childhood Education, BA in Social Science (Magna Cum Laude) and MAED (Reading Literacy) all while balancing the role as wife, mother, and working full time.

In May of 2014, Valerie began fulfilling her purpose by becoming the Founder/ Executive Director of My Little Literacy Leaders Tutoring Service. The Program seeks to help the local community by providing an alternative resource for youth support outside the capacity of traditional after school learning programs. MLLLTS’ focus is on meeting the emotional,  social, needs ( to support healthy minds and establish confidence) as well as support the academic needs of children beginning at 5 years of age, through MLLLTS’ 3 Ps recipe for teaching: Purpose, Passion, and Patience. “Without purpose there is no destiny, without passion there is no security, and without patience there is no positive outcome for our children to become scholars, successful in society, and active engaging adults within their community,” says Edwards. MILLTS is destined to encourage and inspire their youth to live out the hope and desire they may only dream of. Their sole priority is to enrich the lives of children and having this privilege to change the lives of each and every child that crosses their path means more than words could ever express. Valerie is currently gearing up for her summer program for children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old and registration begins Saturday April 16th from 9am- 1pm and May 14th 9am – 1pm . For More information about the summer program call 716 335-0640 or check her out online