Boston's Griffin Museum Hosts "Rock & Roll" Photo Exhibit
Goldmine Magazine March, 2012
BOSTON, MA. - Boston is well-known for it's unique and bountiful rock & roll history. So what better city to host a music-related photo exhibit dubbed just that - Rock & Roll - on display at the Griffin Museum of Photography through March 10. In collaboration with Digital Silver Imaging (DSI) located in Boston's South End, the satellite Griffin Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated solely to the art photography.
1. Blondie's Deborah Harry courtesy of Ron Pownall 2. David Bowie courtesy of Ron Pownall 3. Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead courtesy of Herbie Green.
The Rock & Roll exhibit featured 19 silver gelatin and color prints of various past and present musical legends, created by photographers that are legendary in their own right including Mich Weiss, Ron Pownall, Herbie Greene, Brian Babineau, Elliot Landy, Melissa Mahoney and Ryan Mastro. However, the inspiration behind the exhibit came from yet another famous music photographer.
Washington, DC photographer Mike Mitchell was recently recognized internationally, after uncovering a box of never-before-published images of the Beatles first-ever U. S. concert. Mitchell asked DSI to print the images and the inaugural silver gelatin prints were then sold at Christie's in a record-setting auction.
"Working closely with artists to produce the ultimate vision of their work is our privilege and our mission," said DSI owner Eric Luden in a recent interview. Luden is the owner of DSI. "We were honored to work with Mike Mitchell and print the unpublished Beatles' images. Mike's portfolio was indeed, an inspiration for us, but we also had started to see a trend before landing this job. In fact, rock & roll photographer, Herb Greene, began printing with us when we first opened DSI.
"Seeing Mike's 46 prints, which DSI produced, exhibited and sold by Christie's in London and New York was the icing on the cake," Luden said. "Being in the room as print sales broke all expectations - exceeding over $350,000 for the collection - was truly a thrill."
DSI has also collaborated with Green to produce a limited edition, silver gelatin portfolio of his infamous Led Zeppelin portraits. "Rock & roll is here to stay and it is enjoying a special moment as bands such as the Rolling Stones get ready to celebrate their 50th anniversary," Sybylla Smith said in a recent interview. Smith is the Director and Curator at DSI.
The Rock & Roll exhibit also featured other rarely seen Beatles images, shot in Germany by Astrid Kirchherr in 1963. Kirchherr's then fiancée, Stuart Sutcliffe, was the Beatles' bass player at the time. Some other striking images on display included David Bowie at the Boston Music Hall in 1974 and Blondie's Deborah Harry at Boston's Paradise Club in 1978.
B. C. Kagan's images included a teen-aged Bono and a fresh-faced Sting and The Police, while Elliot Landy has photographed rock royalty including Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. Ryan Mastro has photographed music festivals across the country including Coachella and Bonnaroo, and has worked with artists such as Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, B.B. King and Phish.
Herbie Green is well-known for having close relationships with such iconic artists as Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, while Boston-based Ron Pownall had full access to such Beantown legends Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars and J. Geils Band.
"I've known Eric for many years...since his days at Iford. Then, we re-connected when he started DSI," Ron Pownall said in a recent interview. "Opening night at the DSI/Griffin Gallery was a hoot. I got a chance to catch up with Herbie Greene… we had last shared a show eight years ago at (Boston's) Panopticon Gallery.
Indeed, Pownall was quite impressed with the new gallery and the Rock & Roll opening. "It is really a terrific new space. Very well organized by Sybyll and the opening was jammed to the walls with lots of friends and rockers."
When DSI decided to do the Rock & Roll exhibit, photographers Green and Pownall were a natural fit for the exhibition. "Each of them grew their reputations and careers with intimate access to the bands they chronicled," Smith said. "Greene's iconic images of the Grateful Dead and Dylan was an obvious choice to include, while Pownall portraits of Bowie, Clarence Clemons jamming with Bruce Springsteen and the smoking version of Blondie's Debbie Harry were also foundational."
The gallery also hosted a small panel of rock & roll experts to discuss, reflect and project the people who made musical history and the photographers who documented the phenomenon through the years.
In mid-February, the gallery also hosted a "gallery talk" featuring world renowned collector Gary Greenberg. Fascinating stories were told by photographers Mitchell and Brian Babineau, as well as collector and author Larry Marion, Bob Bonis' vast Rolling Stones and Beatles collection, and Vladamir Morozov with the aforementioned Astrid Kircherr Beatles' collection from Hamburg,1960-63.
"The gallery was again, packed with an enthusiastic crowd," Pownall concluded. "While the images are quite extraordinary unto themselves, they come to life when you hear the story behind the shot… and there were many more stories to be told. The talk went an hour overtime and I'm sure, could have gone all night. I say we do it again, but next time we start at noon...and I'll bring the keg!"
The Griffin Museum of Photography satellite gallery is a collaboration between the Griffin Museum and Digital Silver Imaging. To learn more, visit www.griffinmuseum.org and www.digitalsilverimaging.com.