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‘Harlem of the West Revisited’ Exhibition Opens in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Jazz Heritage Center has announced its first major exhibition, Harlem of the West…Revisited, an art and photographic exhibit that celebrates the bustling Fillmore jazz era of the 1940s and 1950s, a period when the Fillmore was a vibrant neighborhood of more than two dozen nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile, all of which virtually vanished due to redevelopment in the 1960s.

The exhibit celebrates a unique and rediscovered chapter in jazz history and the African-American experience on the West Coast. The exhibit also marks the formal opening of the Jazz Heritage Center’s Koret Heritage Lobby (1330 Fillmore St.), named for the JHC’s lead donor, the Koret Foundation. The exhibit is open from Dec. 6, 2008 to Mar. 7, 2009.

The exhibition includes two components:

Harlem of the West: The exhibition marks the return of the popular Harlem of the West exhibit. This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Performance & Design (MPD) and was originally displayed at MPD in 2006 in conjunction with the publication of a book of the same title from Chronicle Books. Curated by the book’s authors, Elizabeth Pepin and Lewis Watts, the new exhibition features nearly 60 rare archival photographs of the Fillmore at its height in 1940s and 1950s, including photos inside of famed clubs such as Jimbo’s Bop City. Visit Jazz Heritage Center Lobby for more information.

Harlem of the West Revisited: Displayed at the Jazz Heritage Center’s Lush Life Gallery (1320 Fillmore Street), this new exhibit features original paintings from San Francisco’s golden era of jazz, including a rare impressionistic painting of the exterior of nightclub Jimbo’s Bop City by master African-American painter, Joe Overstreet. Additionally, original murals that hung in the Texas Playhouse Bar (formerly 1836 Fillmore Street) will be on display. These paintings haven’t been displayed on Fillmore Street in nearly 40 years. The gallery exhibit also includes photographs of the Fillmore by three prominent local photographers: David Johnson and Gerald Ratto (both of whom studied under Ansel Adams) and Mars Breslow. Click Jazz Heritage Center Lushlife for more information.

The Jazz Heritage Center will celebrate the opening of this exhibit with a community day tomorrow, December 6th, from 1PM-6PM at the Lush Life Gallery. Jazz greats from the Fillmore will be in attendance, as will authors Pepin and Watts to sign books. Photographers Johnson, Ratto and Breslow will also be on hand.

The Jazz Heritage Center is the only permanent cultural and educational complex dedicated to the long history of Jazz in San Francisco and the Fillmore District. Located within the new Fillmore Heritage Center in the heart of the Historic Fillmore Jazz Preservation District, the non-profit Jazz Heritage Center is part jazz museum, part jazz cultural center, and part jazz art gallery. By showcasing art and historical exhibitions, concerts, films and youth programming, the JHC’s mission is to preserve and promote jazz, an American national treasure, while celebrating its presence as an active, living art form in San Francisco and beyond. The JHC includes the Lush Life Gallery, the JHC Public Lobby, the Take Five Gift Shop, and, soon, the JHC Screening and Presentation Room. Visit Jazz heritage Center for more information.

From left to right are Pony Poindexter, John Coltrane and Frank Fisher. The photo was taken at the old Fillmore club, Jimbo’s Bop City, by Steve Jackson, Jr.

Originally Published