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Two Jazz Photography Exhibits to Open at Newark Museum of Art

Exhibits of photographs of Billie Holiday by Jerry Dantzic and of jazz greats by various photographers to open June 9 and run through August 22

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday and her pet Chihuahua Pepi backstage at Sugar Hill, Newark, N.J., April 18, 1957 (photo by Jerry Dantzic, c/o the Jerry Dantzic Archives)

On June 9, 2022, the Newark Museum of Art in Newark, N.J., will open two exhibits featuring jazz photographs. The first exhibit, Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic, presents a series of photos of the legendary singer from 1957 that were published in a book by the same name five years ago. Dantzic, a New York-based photojournalist, photographed Holiday during a weeklong run at the Sugar Hill nightclub in Newark, and the vocalist gave him access to her life both onstage and off. The result was a remarkably intimate look at the singer, showing her in the home of William Dufty (the co-author of Lady Sings the Blues) along with her pet Chihuahua named Pepi, performing in the club, and greeting fans on the streets of Newark. Curated by the photographer’s son Grayson Dantzic, Robert O’Meally and Shannon Perich, the exhibition also includes commentary from noted novelist Zadie Smith, as well as a copy of a 1957 edition of SEE magazine, Dantzic’s Leica M3 camera and other items. This exhibition was organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the Jerry Dantzic Archives.

The second exhibit, which also opens at the museum on June 9 and runs through August 22, features a collection of 33 images of jazz greats taken by 16 noted 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 portrayed 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, Santa Clara University, followed by the Museum of African American History in Boston in 2019, and most recently in 2022 at UCR ARTS’ California Museum of Photography. The exhibition has been loaned through the Bank of America’s Art in Our Communities program, which, according to the press release received at JazzTimes, loans exhibitions “to local museums and nonprofit galleries at no cost as a way to engage the public with important works of art while helping institutions generate vital revenue.”

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

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

Originally Published