Opening of two exhibitions of jazz photography at the Newark Museum of Art

On June 9, 2022, the Newark Museum of Art in Newark, NJ will open two exhibits featuring jazz photography. The first exhibition, Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic, features a series of photos of the legendary singer from 1957 that were published in a book of the same name five years ago. Dantzic, a New York-based photojournalist, photographed Holiday on a week-long run to Sugar Hill nightclub in Newark, and the singer gave her access to her life on and off stage. The result was a remarkably intimate look at the singer, showing her in the home of William Dufty (the co-writer of lady sings the blues) with his pet Chihuahua named Pepi, performing at the club and waving to fans on the streets of Newark. Curated by the photographer’s son Jerry Dantzic, Robert O’Meally and Shannon Perich, the exhibit also includes commentary by acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith, as well as a copy of a 1957 edition of SEE magazine, Dantzic’s Leica M3 camera and other items. This exhibit was organized for the trip by the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibits Service (SITES) in conjunction with the Jerry Dantzic Archives.

The second exhibition, which also opens at the museum on June 9 and will run until August 22, features a collection of 33 images of jazz greats taken by 16 renowned photographers. Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection features the work of photographers Aaron Siskind, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Arthur H. Fellig, Barbara Morgan, Chuck Stewart, Eduard Van Der Elsken, Edward Steichen, Gjon Mili, Gordon Parks, Jonas Dovydenas, Lisette Model, Marc Pokempner, Michael L. Abramson, Milton J. Hinton, Paul D’Amato, and William Gottlieb. Among the artists represented in the photographic exhibition are Miles Davis, John and Alice Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. The collection was previously exhibited in 2018 at the De Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, followed by the Museum of African American History in Boston in 2019, and more recently in 2022 at the California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTS. The exhibit was loaned through Bank of America’s Art in Our Communities program, which, according to the press release received at JazzTimeslends exhibitions free of charge “to local museums and non-profit galleries to engage the public with important works of art while helping institutions generate vital revenue.”

For more information on these two exhibits, visit the museum’s website.

Read book review by Lee Mergner Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic here.

Julia P. Cluff