One of the most exciting developments lately has been the combination of art and rock. The Zeitgeist in Cambridge is spearheading this. There always has been an intertwining of the two. One of the places where hardcore started in Boston was at an art space.
The obvious things are paintings/art by musicians and paintings/art of musicians. In Stills From The Scene we get a more interesting show - art by someone with rock sensibilities. What does this mean? Well, all traces of Fashion/Hollywood/Kitsch/High Concept/Broadway/Showbiz tendencies have to be obliterated to begin with. Then one must have that rock and roll heart. (It would take a long time to explain that, but I think you know what I mean.)
That brings us to Steve Nelson. Steve has been on the rock scene for a long time. He booked the Boston Tea Party for a while. Living near Harvard Square he naturally aimed his camera there. This show has 44 pictures from 1967 to 1973. For those of us who were there we can testify to how well he has captured those days. The picture entitled Hawking The Phoenix is notable in this way. Such a common thing at the time but no one would think of it as a picture to take. The minute you see it though you go," Oh ya, that's how it was."
The presence of rock and rollers is part of the attraction here of course - Andy Paley and Bill Briggs of the Remains are notable. But even when Nelson has a rock and roller in the picture, there is more than that to the image. His Jonathan Richmond picture is notable for how it brings out the ambiance of the restaurant he's in as well as the inside/outside combo of the image. The Peter Wolf and friends picture is as notable for the presence of the apartment building it evokes as well.
Some pictures go for the color, but Steve is never too minimal. The picture of a deep red wall that must have attracted him also has the shadow grid of an aluminum fence to give it design. Brightly colored house eaves with a deep blue-sky shout color too but the architecture of the houses grab attention also.
People, famous and not, are at the center of these images. Their surroundings have been documented at the same time. Steve has captured a time and place, a real artistic accomplishment. The fact that it was a rock hangout/living place adds to its cachet for us.
There is a lot in these pictures. Part of the fun at the opening was when we started to point out things we saw in the pictures to each other.
The New England School of Art and Design, 75 Arlington Street is a very relaxing place for a show and is easy to get to (Green Line, Arington Street stop). The show will be there until July 18.
Jonathan Richman | Dogmatics Photo