Art

A Photo Show Begs the Question, Groupie or Guru?

Steve Schlitz and Mayumi Nashida (all images by the author)

I have to admit it, summer is almost over, and I’m kind of disappointed. This season is arguably the best time to see live music, and initiatives like Celebrate Brooklyn make it easy and (sometimes) free, something I unfortunately missed out on this year. For those like me who have neglected their musical cravings, Longwave and Hurricane Bells is a newly opened must-see show of musical-inclined photography by Mayumi Nashida at Williamsburg’s Graphite Gallery.

The exhibition is the result of Nashida’s longstanding relationship with the band, Longwave, which began in 2003 while shooting one of their concerts for the bands label at a venue on the Lower East Side. Upon first exposure the photographer became entranced by the band’s music. She has photographed the band frequently ever since. The photographs in the show are a smattering of promotional, tour and personal photographs of Longwave and lead singer Steve Schlitz’s new solo project Hurricane Bells.

Some of the images in "Longwave and Hurricane Bells"

The images on display hold in common a raw sense of honesty. Like any tour or band photographs there are a range of off-kilter images of the band in natural, beachy locals, posed mid laugh. There is evidence of the incidental places and things one encounters with extensive traveling; a carousel in the background here, a verdant field by a river there. The portraits, backstage documentation, and original promotional material are a fan’s wet dream; however there is room for the uninitiated as well.

Full disclosure, I’m not a regular listener, but was intrigued by the show none the less. I wasn’t disappointed. Nashida is a seasoned professional photographer; she used to work full time with Sony and has photographed everyone from Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Yoko Ono to Celine Dion, U2 and the Rolling Stones. Her photography, though clean and professional in execution, is exceptional not for its high production value but for its tenderness.

What is most appealing to me is the way these photographs embody the photographer’s experience. They weave in and out of the professional and personal. Promotional material and incidental backstage photography are given the same importance. The posed and the incidental lie next to each other on the wall giving one an almost diaristic sense of Longwave from a close friend, collaborator and enormous fan.

An installation view.

This exhibition is as much about Longwave and Hurricane Bells as it is about the photographers vision, a record of where she has been and with whom. This exhibition stands out as a project of great passion, evidence of what can be accomplished when the goal is love and community rather than business.

Longwave and Hurricane Bells is on view at Graphite Gallery (38 Marcy Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) from September 1 to 11.

comments (0)