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Photographs by award-winning photographer celebrate individuals from every walk of life
Herb Snitzer, Ossie Davis, 1990. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the artist.

YONKERS, NY.- The Hudson River Museum is continuing a year of Centennial celebrations with the exhibition Can I Get A Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer, which will be on view at the HRM from May 31–August 18, 2019. Contemporary American photographer Herb Snitzer (b. 1932) has spent sixty years capturing images of people from all walks of life. He is the winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP for his work with social justice causes.

Famous for his iconic photographs of jazz musicians, Snitzer’s remarkably broad artistic vision is present in this selection of forty-five photographs and ephemera, and includes images that document the struggle for social equity and equal rights, as well as exultations of the human spirit. Subjects range from street scenes of 1950s New York to jazz legend Louis Armstrong on the road in 1960, to activists participating in the 2017 Women’s March. The Museum is proud to be able to display these works, which include images from pride parades, at a time when the country is celebrating World Pride and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in Florida.

HRM Director Masha Turchinsky states, “I am thrilled that the Museum is able to present these poignant photographs by Herb Snitzer. The images speak to social justice, equality, and offer a powerful message for our community. The Museum is a place for us all to experience life together, and we look forward to engaging our visitors through a dynamic roster of interdisciplinary programs and experiences this summer.”

As Herb Snitzer states, “Inequality for one is inequality for all.” Snitzer has spent his life documenting the world around him with an overriding commitment to dignity and respect for all. His photographs are rooted in his life experiences. Snitzer is of Jewish descent and a Quaker by choice; his parents immigrated to Philadelphia—the “City of Brotherly Love”—to escape the pogroms of Ukraine. Living on Manhattan’s West Side in the 1950s, he captured images of the city’s multicultural atmosphere. Later, as the photo editor for the music magazine Metronome, he photographed many of the best jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s—such as Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane—as they played New York clubs. His work has been featured in TIME, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and The New York Times. During the 1980s, Snitzer shot some of his most intimate and compelling works, including those featuring the legendary jazz singer and activist Nina Simone. He spent years taking photographs at international jazz festivals, working with icons like Miles Davis. His move to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1992 resulted in new subject matter and refocused his attention upon social justice and equality—from his wrenching images taken at demonstrations against police brutality to candid moments during the St. Pete Pride Festival. Snitzer remains committed to capturing the rich, unfolding tapestry of life, with all its joys and sorrows, its pageantry and protests.

This exhibition is accompanied by Through Our Eyes: Milestones and Memories of African Americans in Yonkers, on view May 31–November 3, 2019, which brings together a selection of more than 100 years of photographs and objects collected from African Americans who have made Yonkers the vibrant city that it is today. The exhibition was curated by Kress Foundation Interpretative Fellow Christian Stegall.

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