Lewis Watts photo by Sophie Maher

For the December 22, 2009 show of Artists on Art, the live broadcast was a prerecorded interview with UCSC Professor Lewis Watts.

During the show, we discussed three of his current projects involving the history of African-Americans in Harlem, San Francisco, and New Orleans. As a long-term artist archivist, Prof. Watts is working on many photography projects simultaneously.  Some of these projects, such as his Harlem – New York project, have been ongoing since the early 70s.  We also spoke of the inspiration that accompanies working with students specifically changing to the digital realm.  When Lewis began archiving old and sometimes damaged photographs, he quickly learned the need to go digital and learn Photoshop.

Our show can be heard in entirety by clicking on the triangle below. [audio: http://www.miljkovic.org/nada/aoa12229.mp3]

-1The first art project we spoke about concerned his current photography exhibition at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. The photographs are from a book entitled Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era Chronicle Books,  2005. This book also provides textual, co-authored with Elizabeth Pepin a writer and public television producer, history of the African-American movement into San Francisco’s Japantown during WWII due to the ship building related jobs and housing surplus created by the Japanese interment. It charts the growth and evolution of the Fillmore District in its musical heyday in the 1940s and 50s. During our show, Lewis tells an amazing story on how he was able to get access to some of these amazing old photographs.

Secondly, we spoke of his soon to be published book, “New Orleans Suite” which is about New Orleans’ Culture. This book’s co-author is jazz scholar Prof. Eric Porter of the UCSC American Studies Department. The book will be published by the University of California Press in 2011 in time for the 7th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The following are some of the images that will be in the book.
Altar to Marie LaVeau, Voodoo Spiritualist Center, New Orleans 1996
City Park, 6 Weeks After Katrina, New Orleans 2005

Chief David Montana and Mother, Yellow Pocahantas Tribe, Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans, 2007
125th. St., Harlem, NY 2006
"After Romare Beardon", Harlem, NY 1995
Beauty of W.142nd. St., Harlem, NY 2007
East 135th. St., Harlem NY 2008
Invisible Man, Catlett Sculpture by Ralph Ellison's Home Harlem NY 2007

Lastly, we spoke of his on-going long-term project of photo documenting New York’s Harlem. The above photographs that Prof. Watts shared with us are of Harlem New York.

Also for the last of our multimedia, here’s a TwitVid taken in the KZSC radio station, we recorded the day of our interview. Please forgive the shakiness of the video. It was the longest TwitVid I’ve done to date with my IPhone. I need to get Gorilla Tripod.  Below is a very short steady shot TwitVid of Lewis while talking on the radio.

Huge thanks to Professor Watts for providing his time and his photographs for this blog. It was a pleasure to finally get him on the show. We had been talking about doing a show together for almost an entire year, from when I first got the privilege to do Artists on Art at UCSC’s KZSC back in January 2009.

Lastly, for more information about the photographs by Prof. Watts that are in the soon-to-be-published book,”New Orleans Suite”,  go to a post for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Blog, A Sustained Presence: The photography of Lewis Watts on the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina written by Adrienne Sky Roberts, (UCSC Alumni).


I'm a radioactive media making artivist working every day to make the world a better place.

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