St. Petersburg, Fla. (April 24, 2018) – Photographer Herb Snitzer has spent 61 years capturing images of people from all walks of life, from urban street scenes of 1950s New York, to jazz legend Louis Armstrong on the road in 1960, to activists participating in the 2017 Women’s March.
An extensive exhibition of Snitzer’s work will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg from May 5 to August 5. “Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer” focuses on Snitzer’s commitment to documenting grassroots community engagement and activism for equal rights.
It also includes selections from the MFA’s collection of Snitzer’s portfolio Such Sweet Thunder, which focuses on musicians committed to justice, like singer and activist Nina Simone, who used her voice for empowerment.
Snitzer, 85, photographs the world around him with warmth and compassion, grounded by a commitment to respect and dignity for all. In 2005, he received a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP for his work with social justice causes. His work is collected by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and his photos have been featured in publications like LIFE, Fortune and TIME magazine.
“We are pleased to highlight the work of Mr. Snitzer, who tells such wonderful stories through his lens,” said MFA Executive Director Kristen A. Shepherd. “The MFA is proud to present the finest collection of photography in the Southeast, and we value this opportunity to showcase the power of fine art photography by pairing works from our collection with these important photographs on loan from Mr. Snitzer.”
Snitzer’s parents immigrated to Philadelphia to escape anti-Semitic persecution in the Ukraine in the early 1900s. Snitzer, who is Jewish by descent and Quaker by choice, moved to the West Side of Manhattan in the 1950s, where he captured the city’s multicultural atmosphere.
He became photo editor for the music magazine Metronome, and photographed many of the era’s best jazz musicians as they played New York nightclubs. He also freelanced for a number of other publications before photographing an international jazz festival for several years, reconnecting with Nina Simone and working with other legends like Miles Davis.
But while many of his photos have featured musicians, Snitzer is most passionate about his work related to social justice. He has photographed people at protests and demonstrations since the 1950s, and continued this after moving to St. Petersburg in 1992, through the NAACP and Quaker community. He continues to capture these avid scenes at events like the St. Pete Pride Parade to this day.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
The MFA at 255 Beach Drive N.E. has a world-class collection, with works by Monet, Morisot, Rodin, O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and many other great artists. Also displayed are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. Selections from the photography collection, one of the largest and finest in the Southeast, are now on view in a gallery dedicated to the medium. Kristen A. Shepherd is the Executive Director.
Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, until 8 p.m. on Thursday, and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is only $5 after 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Regular admission is $17 for adults, $15 for those 65 and older, and $10 for students seven and older, including college students with current I.D. Children under seven and Museum members are admitted free. Groups of 10 or more adults pay only $12 per person and children $4 each with prior reservations. The MFA Café is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. For more information, please call 727.896.2667 or visit mfastpete.org.