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Schomburg Center | Rosenwald Film

New Gordon Parks show in Washington D.C.

Rosenwald fellow Gordon Parks’ photography has been the subject of a series of exhibitions recently, in the wake of what would have been his 100th birthday on November 30th, 2012. We blogged about a Gordon Parks show at the Schomburg Center in Manhattan last July, and now another collection of his photography will be on display at the Adamson Gallery in Washington, D.C. between March 23rd and May 11th. An opening reception will be held on the 23rd from 6 to 8 PM. Click here for the press release on the Adamson Gallery’s website.

Remembering Gordon Parks in 2012

Today, November 30th, would have been the 100th birthday of the great photographer and 1942 Rosenwald fellow Gordon Parks. We posted about a centennial exhibition of his work at Manhattan’s Schomburg Center in July of this year. Today’s Lens blog on The New York Times website has an excellent article by Parks scholar Deborah Willis regarding a lesser known part of Parks’ career, his fashion photography.

In the early 1960s, I sat in my mother’s beauty shop in North Philadelphia reading Life magazine and discovered the photographs of Gordon Parks. I wasn’t even a teenager, yet I still remember vividly the effect those photo essays had on my life: over the course of the next decade I read his autobiography, “A Choice of Weapons,” and devoured almost all of his stories in Life.

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Exhibition of Photographer and Rosenwald Fellow Gordon Parks at Harlem Gallery

Side view of the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem, New York
Photo credit: Michael Rose, July 20, 2012

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City, is showing a collection of works by the great African American photographer Gordon Parks, who passed away in 2006. The exhibition is in commemoration of what would have been Parks 100th birthday, and will be on display until the end of the year. It was advertised in the Arts section of last week’s New York Times.

Gordon Parks in the FSA office
Photo credit: Library of Congress, ca. 1943

The exhibit focuses on Parks’ work in the 1940s with the Farm Security Administration. Parks joined the FSA after being awarded a Rosenwald Fund grant in 1942, which he received on the strength of his photographs of Chicago’s South Side. The current exhibit displays some similar black and white portraits and street scenes of black neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and Harlem that he took in the early 1940s for the FSA and the Office of War Information. In addition to those included in this blog, hundreds of Parks’s photographs are available online at the Library of Congress. A documentary about Parks’ career entitled Half Past Autumn is also part of the exhibit and will screen at least once more at the Schomburg Center, this August.

“Anacostia, D.C. Frederick Douglass housing project. Playing in the community sprayer ”
Photo credit: Gordon Parks, 1942, Office of War Information, LOC

“New York, New York. A Harlem newsboy”
Photo Credit: Gordon Parks, 1943, Office of War Information, LOC

The Schomburg Center is located just half a block from the famous Harlem YMCA. This towering mid-block building was funded in part by a Rosenwald “challenge grant,” and is probably the largest structure built as part of Rosenwald’s YMCA campaign. Parks, like many other new arrivals to Harlem, stayed at the YMCA for some time when he was new to the city. When I visited the gallery, 135th Street was crowded with the 2012 Harlem Book Fair.

Schomburg Center foreground, Harlem Rosenwald YMCA background
Photo credit: Michael Rose, July 20, 2012

By Michael Rose