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July 25, 2011

uncovering the smithsonian’s jazz archives

James Moody 1984. copyright 2011, Stephanie Myers.

Jazz saxophonist James Moody was raised in Newark, New Jersey, so it is little wonder that the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, the sole New Jersey Affiliate, celebrates his legacy so predominantly. In 2008 as part of the District’s annual Music Festival, they hosted a homage to James Moody, in which he himself played with many jazz luminaries, as well as with the Smithsonian’s Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

When Moody passed away in 2010, Anthony Smith, Director of Communications and Community Affairs, and Producer of the Music Festival, knew that it was time for a major tribute to this legendary figure. That’s when he turned to the Smithsonian. In addition to a musical tribute and naming a housing unit in the District for Moody, Anthony wanted to highlight Moody’s career through images, and to create a photography exhibition in Lincoln Park’s community gallery.

With the help of archivists in the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, Anthony found a collection of Stephanie Myers’ photographs, an artist and jazz photographer who donated prints to the Smithsonian in 2005 and 2009. In addition to images of Moody and his peers, she also captured timeless moments from prominent jazz festivals, such as La Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France, represented in the Archives Center’s collection of her works.

David Haberstich, Curator of Photography in the Archives Center, remarked that a great strength of the Archives Center’s holdings is material related to American music, especially jazz. “This includes a good representation of many fine photographers who specialize in photographing jazz musicians in action, up close and personal,” he said. “We’re eager for opportunities to exhibit these photographs and share them. We’re pleased to show them to anyone by appointment, from members of the general public to serious scholars.”

Although the Smithsonian’s prints could not be reproduced because of intellectual property concerns, seeing this collection “opened a door” for Anthony that led him directly to the photographer herself, who lives in New York City. Stephanie Myers was also a close friend to James Moody. “We hit it off immediately,” says Anthony. “She understood how we were trying to honor James, and wanted to be a part of it.”

James Moody, 1987. Copyright 2011, Stephanie Myers.

Together, they consulted Moody’s discography and crafted an exhibition of 30 of Stephanie’s photographs that highlight Moody and the musicians who played with him throughout his 50+ year career. The prints will be arranged in the gallery much like a stage performance, with Moody surrounded by various members of the rhythm section and fellow soloists. (Many of these same musicians will be playing in the 6th Annual Music Festival in Newark, July 29-31, 2011.) In addition, the gallery will present 20 of the District’s own photographs from the 2008 Music Festival Tribute to Moody.

Music Speaks: Moody’s Musical Moods show will open on July 28, 2011 and run through October. Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to leave their memories and experiences with James Moody’s music. Several public programs are planned, including a photography workshop for youth with Stephanie Myers.

“Sometimes collaborations with Affiliates turn out differently than the original plan,” said Jennifer Brundage, National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations. “It’s especially nice when it results in new opportunities we hadn’t imagined before!”

 

 

October 26, 2010

*amazing* loans at Affiliates this fall

More than 25 amazing and unique artifacts are on the move from the Smithsonian to Affiliates in six states,  from September to November this year.  This concentration of extraordinary activity gives testament to months (and sometimes years!) of hard work and planning by Smithsonian and Affiliate staffs alike. 

“Americans unable to visit the Smithsonian in Washington now have an opportunity to see some amazing Smithsonian artifacts from our collections in their own communities,” said Harold Closter, Affiliations Director.  “Something special happens when an artifact returns to its location of origin or joins an exhibit where it can be seen in a new context. Thanks to our Affiliates, the Smithsonian has a strong, visible presence in every part of our country.”

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY:

Lexington's skeletal head, next to its image while alive.

The fall season kicked off in Kentucky, site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  The International Museum of the Horse borrowed the complete skeleton of Lexington, the most famous 19th-century American racehorse, returning him to his birthplace 160 years later.   Read more about this amazing loan in the upcoming Fall 2010 edition of The Affiliate newsletter. 

Isn’t Monopoly the way most of us learned about finance and economics?  A solid gold, jewel-encrusted Monopoly game from the Museum’s gem collection was unveiled with great fanfare in October at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York City.  While students competed in a Monopoly tournament, the artifact’s creator, jeweler Sidney Mobell, spoke about this one-of-a-kind artwork.   

From the SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM:

Barthe's almost 3' Blackberry Woman

Artist Richmond Barthe’s bronze sculpture Blackberry Woman will soon be on view at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, Mississippi for the inaugural exhibition in its new African American gallery.  Barthe grew up in Mississippi, and was inspired by the women he encountered there in his childhood.  How elegantly appropriate for this sculpture to return to the genesis of its inspiration!

In November, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico will display three paintings from SAAM’s Vidal Collection by legendary 18- 19th-century Puerto Rican Old Master, José Campeche.  These inclusions in a definitive retrospective of Campeche’s work represent the first loans ever between these two important art museums, a signficiant accomplishment.

Likewise, SAAM’s painting by Charmion von Wiegand “Nothing that is wrong in principle can be right in practice” will be part of the Rubin Museum’s Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-inspired Contemporary Art exhibition, the Museum’s first loan to this NYC Affiliate.

 From the ARCHIVES CENTER at the National Museum of American History:  

Detail from the illustrated sheet music, Oh! You Babe Ruth

The Archives Center is making a significant contribution to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music’s Sousa and His League of Players: America’s Music and the Golden Age of Baseball exhibition, marking the 100th anniversary of the Sousa Band’s World Tour.  With 11 baseball cards (including Ty Cobb’s) and several examples of illustrated sheet music (including Oh! You Babe Ruth and Stars of the National Game music), this exhibition will be the core of the University’s 2010 American Music Month Celebration.

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN:

In an unexpected request, the Museum has loaned a 19th-century Sioux flute and hide scraper from the Dakota Territory to the National Museum of American Jewish History.  What’s the connection?  When NMAJH opens its brand new building on Independence Mall this November, part of the history it will tell is the western expansion of Jewish Americans, and the kinds of peoples and objects they encountered along the way.   

And from the MUSEUM CONSERVATION INSTITUTE:

Within the Emperor's Garden - on view at Flushing Town Hall

MCI’s extraordinary object, the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion, made its way between two Affiliates this fall, from Texas to Flushing, New York.  Flushing Town Hall is located in one of New York City’s largest Asian communities, a perfect context for this 1:5 scale model replica from the Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City in Bejing.  Read more about the deinstallation and NYC installation of this object.

THANK YOU to all of our Smithsonian colleagues for their work on these loans, and for our Affiliate friends who so consistently collaborate with us to bring the Smithsonian to their neighborhoods.

 

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