The Hudson River Museum Presents Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer

Photographs by award-winning photographer celebrate individuals from every walk of life and reflect a deep empathy and desire for social justice.

May 31–August 18, 2019

Press Preview: Thursday, May 30, 10am
View press images here.

The Hudson River Museum is continuing a year of Centennial celebrations with the exhibition Can I Get A Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer, which will be on view at the HRM from May 31–August 18, 2019. Contemporary American photographer Herb Snitzer (b. 1932) has spent sixty years capturing images of people from all walks of life. He is the winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP for his work with social justice causes.

Famous for his iconic photographs of jazz musicians, Snitzer’s remarkably broad artistic vision is present in this selection of forty-five photographs and ephemera, and includes images that document the struggle for social equity and equal rights, as well as exultations of the human spirit. Subjects range from 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. The Museum is proud to be able to display these works, which include images from pride parades, at a time when the country is celebrating World Pride and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in Florida.

HRM Director Masha Turchinsky states, “I am thrilled that the Museum is able to present these poignant photographs by Herb Snitzer. The images speak to social justice, equality, and offer a powerful message for our community. The Museum is a place for us all to experience life together, and we look forward to engaging our visitors through a dynamic roster of interdisciplinary programs and experiences this summer.”

As Herb Snitzer states, “Inequality for one is inequality for all.” Snitzer has spent his life documenting the world around him with an overriding commitment to dignity and respect for all. His photographs are rooted in his life experiences. Snitzer is of Jewish descent and a Quaker by choice; his parents immigrated to Philadelphia—the “City of Brotherly Love”—to escape the pogroms of Ukraine. Living on Manhattan’s West Side in the 1950s, he captured images of the city’s multicultural atmosphere. Later, as the photo editor for the music magazine Metronome, he photographed many of the best jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s—such as Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane—as they played New York clubs. His work has been featured in TIME, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and The New York Times. During the 1980s, Snitzer shot some of his most intimate and compelling works, including those featuring the legendary jazz singer and activist Nina Simone. He spent years taking photographs at international jazz festivals, working with icons like Miles Davis. His move to St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1992 resulted in new subject matter and refocused his attention upon social justice and equality—from his wrenching images taken at demonstrations against police brutality to candid moments during the St. Pete Pride Festival. Snitzer remains committed to capturing the rich, unfolding tapestry of life, with all its joys and sorrows, its pageantry and protests.

This exhibition is accompanied by Through Our Eyes: Milestones and Memories of African Americans in Yonkers, on view May 31–November 3, 2019, which brings together a selection of more than 100 years of photographs and objects collected from African Americans who have made Yonkers the vibrant city that it is today. The exhibition was curated by Kress Foundation Interpretative Fellow Christian Stegall. These two exhibitions demonstrate the Museum’s ongoing commitment to making our collections and program offerings more inclusive and representative of the communities we serve.

Can I Get a Witness is featured on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via the hashtags #CanIGetAWitness, #HerbSnitzer, and #HRM100. A printed gallery guide accompanies the exhibition.

Related Programs

Saturday, June 1, 1:30–3:30pm
Collage Workshop: Make It Personal
Teaching Artist-in-Residence Eric Velasquez leads a mixed-media collage workshop inspired by the exhibition Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer. Combine newspaper, photos, and drawings to tell a narrative chronicling your life. Participants are encouraged to bring photos from home to add to the collage.

Saturday, June 1, 6–8:30pm
Street Theater
Join us as we kick off Pride Month with a concert reading of Doric Wilson’s award-winning 1981 play Street Theater—the signature production of The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS), NYC’s longest running LGBTQ+ theater company—that focuses on the 90 minutes prior to the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969. Frequently called the “father of modern queer theatre,” Doric Wilson’s 50-year dedication to queer culture was recognized with the first Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gay Theatre. The performance will take place in the exhibition galleries; followed by a special reception with the cast and crew. Tickets $20; Members $15. Recommended for ages 14+. Co-sponsored by TOSOS and Yonkers Pride. #WorldPride #YonkersPride

Sunday, June 2, July 7, and Aug 18, 1:30pm
Curator’s Tour of Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer
Join Laura Vookles, Chair of the Curatorial Department, for a close look at the ways in which photographer Herb Snitzer captured the essence of his subjects, from jazz musicians to activists marching for civil rights, peace, and equality, all in a lifetime quest for social justice.

Sunday, June 9, 2pm
Lee Romero: A Life with a Camera
Painter and photographer Lee Romero—whose work has been exhibited throughout the US, Europe, and Mexico—looks back over a fifty-year career in photojournalism, traversing four continents as witness to major events including the aftermath of 9/11 and conflicts in Somalia and Haiti. Romero has also photographed Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, and notables such as Ella Fitzgerald, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali.

Saturday, July 6, 1:30–3:30pm
Capture the Moment!
Teaching Artist in Residence Eric Velasquez leads a photography workshop inviting participants to carefully consider taking the perfect shot that captures exactly the sentiment you’re going for, inspired by Herb Snitzer’s images. Bring your smartphone and have your photos printed so you can evaluate and share in a group critique.

Friday, July 12, 6–8pm
LGBTQ Stories: The Lavender Scare Film Screening and Discussion
Join us for a film screening and discussion of The Lavender Scare, the first documentary film to tell the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual. Join Robert Voorheis, President of the Yonkers Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, as he leads a discussion of this untold story and the courageous few who fought back. #WorldPride #YonkersPride

Friday, July 19, 5pm
Drag Queen Story Hour
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Thursday, July 25, 6:30–8:30pm
Bourbon Street on the Hudson
Hot Jazz on a summer’s night with the Joey Berkley Band, featuring Porter Carroll, Jr., provides the live soundtrack for a “bourbon and barware” tasting event celebrating Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer. The Hudson River Museum is thrilled to partner with Nahmias et Fils Distillery, Cocktail Kingdom, and The Westchester Center for Jazz and Contemporary Music in a soulful pairing of bourbon, the signature American libation, with jazz, the quintessential American music. Take home a special Sazerac cocktail recipe in your own signature jigger! Tickets: $20; Members $15; includes tasting and souvenir barware. Cash bar for 21+.

Saturday, July 27, 1:30–3:30pm
Photography in Paint
Join Teaching Artist in Residence Eric Velasquez to select one of Herb Snitzer’s photographs in Can I Get A Witness as inspiration to create a watercolor image, using your imagination to make a social commentary or convey the beauty of the moment.

Friday, August 9
LGBTQ Stories: March On!
From Stonewall to the Castro, the movie March On! tells the story of the Equality Movement through the lives of five families and celebrates the many faces of marriage from illegal same sex marriages in 1987 to legality in 2008 San Francisco. Their stories are the reason we march. Facilitated discussion to follow, led by Robert Voorheis, President of the Yonkers Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. #WorldPride

Saturday, August 10, 1:30–3:30pm
Giving Voice
Explore the visual language of reportage, or documentary drawing, with Teaching Artist-in-Residence Eric Velasquez. Draw with charcoal on newsprint and make a strong and meaningful statement, crystallizing your own hopes, dreams, or beliefs, inspired by Herb Snitzer’s commitment to social justice as seen in Can I Get A Witness.

Sunday, August 11, 2:30pm
Family Tour: Signs of Summer
Discover the powerful posters and signs found in Can I Get a Witness, in a lively discussion with HRM Educator Bridget McCormick, then create your own family message.

Wednesday, August 14 and 28, 11:30am
Storytime: Pride
Hear the story of love, hope, equality, and pride in Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steven Salerno. Then, create your own rainbow flag. Ages 0–5.

For more information about our programs, visit our calendar.

Hudson River Museum’s Centennial
The Hudson River Museum is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019 with a series of Centennial exhibitions, programs, special events, and community outreach and invitations to commemorate this momentous occasion. Throughout the year, we will be publishing “100 Moments” from the Museum’s rich history, sharing archival images, stories, and crowdsourced memories about the HRM on the website and social media, as well as special displays in the Museum Lobby and Permanent Collection Gallery. #HRM100

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About the Hudson River Museum

The Hudson River Museum is a preeminent cultural institution in Westchester County and the New York metropolitan area. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, the HRM is a place where diverse communities come together and experience the power of art, science, and history.

The Museum offers engaging experiences for every age and interest, with an ever-growing collection of American art; dynamic exhibitions that range from notable nineteenth-century paintings to contemporary art installations; Glenview, an 1877 house on the National Register of Historic Places; a state-of-the-art Planetarium; an environmental teaching gallery, Hudson Riverama; and an outdoor Amphitheater. Accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting these multidisciplinary offerings, which are complemented by an array of public programs that encourage creative expression, collaboration, and artistic and scientific discovery.

The Hudson River Museum’s general operations are supported in part by Westchester County, the City of Yonkers, the Yonkers Board of Education, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Westchester Delegation of the New York State Assembly and Senate.

Hours and Admission: The Hudson River Museum is open Wednesday–Sunday, 12–5pm. Museum Admission: Adults $8; Youth (3–18) $4; Seniors (62+) $5; Students (with valid ID) $5; Veterans $5; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE. Planetarium Tickets: Adults $5; Youth (3–18) $3; Seniors (62+) $4; Students (with valid ID) $4; Veterans $4; Children (under 3) FREE; Members FREE. The Museum is accessible by Metro-North, by Bee-Line Bus Route #1, by car, and by bike. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and buy a combined rail and admission discount ticket. Learn more about Metro-North Deals & Getaways.