The Photos Linger On

Legendary Bluesman DAVID "HONEYBOY" EDWARDS, who travelled with Robert Johnson in the 1930's, playing the Blues on the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage at the 16th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, Grant Park, Chicago, IL, Friday, 04 June 1999.
Legendary Bluesman DAVID “HONEYBOY” EDWARDS, who travelled with Robert Johnson in the 1930’s, playing the Blues on the Mississippi Juke Joint Stage at the 16th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, Grant Park, Chicago, IL, Friday, 04 June 1999.
Seeing the Blues, the Photography of Linda and Jack Vartoogian, is presented by Brookfield as part of the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at the World Financial Center. Fortunately, the photos remain on display until August 14 in the Winter Garden of the WFC even though the music was this past weekend, July 28-30.

I first met Jack in 2005 when Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival presented the Nashville Bluegrass Band followed by Doc Watson. I had seen Jack’s name under a favorite troubadour’s photo in the NY Times and was on the lookout for an Armenian looking guy with a camera around his neck. I approached him near the edge of the stage at the Damrosch Park Bandshell. After the concert, we chatted more and with time came to know each other well.

RUFUS THOMAS, "The World's Oldest Teenager," performing at the BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at Metrotech Center, Brookln, NY, Thursday, 11 June 1998.
RUFUS THOMAS, “The World’s Oldest Teenager,” performing at the BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at Metrotech Center, Brookln, NY, Thursday, 11 June 1998.

I had no idea when I met the Vartoogians that their photographs of performers on New York City stages and beyond represented a vast oeuvre of dance, music and theater across decades. The nineteen photos of blues and R&B performers in Seeing the Blues are mined from their pre-digital work between 1989 and 2000. I was lucky enough to have a spin with Jack and hear snippets about each of the artists. But my good fortune is by no means necessary for your enjoyment. The images alone are evocative. The music drips off of them. Have a look.