February 17, 2009
“New York to New Orleans, 2000-2007” Exhibit of the Work of Photographer and Jazz Guitarist Peter Leitch at Webster University's May GalleryFor a high-quality image go to:
“New York to New Orleans, 2000-2007,” a photography exhibit by Peter Leitch, is featured at Webster University's May Gallery. This exhibit is a compilation of photographs taken by Leitch as he “traversed the American south, where he went in search of the landscape of the blues, which are the roots of jazz music” (Sylvia Levine Leitch).
Leitch’s photographs are a lyric documentary of the topography, architecture, and social landscape of the regions that produced the blues and jazz. His images “show that as often as Leitch has kept his ears open on the bandstand, he has kept his eyes open on the street outside” (Mitchell Seitdel, the Star-Ledger.)
February 27-March 27, 2009
Opening reception Friday, February 27, 5-7 p.m.
Special jazz concert featuring the Peter Leitch Trio on
Saturday, February 28 at 7 p.m.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
May Photography Gallery
Sverdrup Business/Technology Complex, Webster University
8300 Big Bend Blvd., 2nd Floor, West Wing
Free and open to the public
Call 961-2660, ext. 7673, or visit the website at www.webster.edu/maygallery
Peter Leitch: Musician as Photographer
"I grew up in a family interested in photography," Peter says of his mid-career inclusion of the photographic medium in his artistic life. "My grandfather, father, uncle, even my mother, took wonderful photographs and sometimes wrote letters to each other about the process, the results, the limitations of the equipment they had at hand. So I think I always had an eye, but only began to really develop it after I felt comfortable enough with my musicianship to branch out."
It so happened that one of the musician's guitar students was also a photographer who guided Leitch through the basics of the darkroom and the printing process. In addition, Peter's childhood friend Robert Walker, once a budding young saxophonist, is a noted color photographer who guided Leitch through the annals of photographic history, training his eye to the work of the masters.
There are a lot of parallels between jazz music and photography, Peter adds. "Both are arts of the moment. Taking a photograph is akin to playing music in real time, and the darkroom process is in a way similar to the recording, mixing and mastering processes. The photograph freezes a particular moment in time, and also tries to suggest what happens beyond the moment."
Thus it occurred that his first photography show in 1999 was of photographs he had taken of fellow jazz artists back stage, in quiet personal moments, or on the same bandstand as the guitarist. He has had several showings of those photographs since then.
New York street scenes formed the basis of his next exhibition, revealing the results of endless strolls through Peter's adopted home town, which never stops offering surprises and excitement. "I first came to New York with my parents when I was eight years old," Peter remembers. "The intensity, the dirt, the anarchy were so exciting that I knew then that somehow I had to get back here!"
Leitch's work and next exhibitions traversed the American south, where he went in search of the landscape of the blues, which are the roots of jazz music. Here musical history and the sometimes stark present clash and meet as we see where Charlie Patton practiced his music in between working the Dockery plantation, where W.C. Handy first heard the blues in Tutwiler, and the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans. The visual revelations of this work result from a sensibility rooted in the music yet sociologically completely foreign to it. As a result, he returns again and again to the area. The present exhibition is a culmination of all these experiences.
-- Sylvia Levine Leitch