Photography, Jazz and Dance Collide In A Great Way.

Two powerful exhibits are running at The August Wilson center until February 26th, showcasing one famous photographer’s journey through Pittsburgh’s delicate social fabric, and one artist’s representation of prolific icons throughout the history of dance.

Teenie Harris Photographs: Erroll Garner and Jazz from the Hill

Charles (Teenie) Harris was one of Pittsburgh’s most well-renowned, and celebrated black photographers over the past 100 years. The son of hotel owners, Harris purchased his first camera in the 1930’s and began his love affair with imagery, photographing in Washington, D.C. for Flash!, and eventually settling in at the Pittsburgh Courier, where he spearheaded a photo project documenting life in black neighborhoods.

Currently on exhibit is Harris’ photos of Erroll Garner, a pianist and composer known for soulful ballads and sultry swing numbers. The photos are curated by jazz great, Geri Allen, and are a powerfully visual narrative taking visitors on a journey of unabashed interest and timely understanding of a different culture. This is a true time machine into the once world-class jazz scene Pittsburgh was known for.

Interpretations

Dancer and visionary, Joy-Marie Thompson, expresses a true love and respect for dance in her exhibit, Interpretations, a visual emulation of iconic dancers like Gregory Hines and Ertha Kitt. Thompson, a junior at Purchase College in New York, found it relevant to pay tribute to the people who have paved the way for her inspiration.

Photographed by Rachel Neville, each picture jumps off of the wall, tempting and delighting the senses, and littering a voluminous aura of strength.

And while the exhibit is phenomenal, I found the Black Lives Matter installation rather divisive and out-of-place. In a world where we need more understanding about all cultures, such a staunch political statement has no place in a center that is supposed to educate, and join communities.

For more information, visit The August Wilson Center.

Photos by Julie Kahlbaugh