Last Thursday I had an appointment with my friend Raquel. It was time to wash that gray right out of my hair. So much gray it's scary and screaming doesn’t help. I have noticed that since I came to NYC, I am dyeing it more frequently. I don't know whether it has to do with me being married or life in general in NYC. My inner voice tells me that it has to do with me getting old.
As It turns out, Raquel can't make it and my plans changed from dyeing my hair to going to a small gallery and attending a talk by two great female photographers. Their main subject was Jazz musicians. The photos were beautiful black and white photos that really represented how NYC used to be. All the amazing Jazz clubs that are no longer there and ones like Arthur's Tavern in the Village that still exist. The first artist Jill Freedman is a highly respected New York City documentary photographer whose award-winning work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, among others. Jill Freedman is best known for her street and documentary photography.
Ming Smith is the other female photographer who also photographed jazz musicians. I loved in particular the photo of David Murray (1978) printed on fabric. She would also paint over some of her black and white photos. Initially, she would paint on the fabric and would then print the photo on top of it. The idea really worked well. Ming Smith was born in Michigan and attended Howard University. She went on to be a fashion model in New York City and an early member of Kamoinge, the illustrious group of African-American photographers founded in 1963, with Roy DeCarava as its first director. Her marriage to David Murray gave her unique access to the era’s notables. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (she was the first Black female photographer in the collection), as well as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in New York.
The gallery, Tikhonova & Wintner is located on 40 West 120th street on the 2nd floor in a gorgeous brownstone building. I would never would have thought that inside of that building there would be a gallery showing the hidden moments of famous jazz musicians brought to us by the eye of such wonderful female photographers. I heard it is tough to choose this career as a woman. I can't imagine how hard it might have been at that time. I think, and this is only my opinion here, but that in some ways being a woman photographer meant you must behave as a man. To drink and smoke in order to be accepted in that closed society. Either way, I was happy to hear their story, it lifted me up.
After the talk finished, Greg, Antoon our great printer and I hung out for a while to talk with Jim and Yulia whose place it was. We talked about how neighborhoods are changing in NYC, and how the gentrification has changed the ethnic groups of Harlem. Everybody there was an artist in some way or another. Greg and Jim talked about Greg's work. I was in heaven when Greg showed his work and I noticed Jim 's expression which was: Wow that's great work. I hope Greg will be able to present his work there as well.
We did have a chance to speak with a former U.S Air force soldier. I was more interested in his uniform and was surprised that a former U.S Air force soldier was there, listening to the talk and was also interested in art. We were so intrigued by his uniform and his persona that we started a conversation with David. Talking to him was inspiring. His full time work was as an accountant at the Postal Office but his hobby is art. He loves jazz music as most of the people there did. Greg took a picture of him, and here it is.
This was my Thursday evening las week. How was your weekend? Did you do something interesting that you would like to share? Please do so, we all are so exited to read your story.