In a similar vein to this morning’s story about (relatively) overlooked punk and No Wave types from the CBGB vein, we were pleased to see this video appear on the web. It’s from a show that Patti Smith did last year in LA, wherein she paid an extended tribute to another often overlooked New York cultural figure — filmmaker and ethnomusicologist Harry Smith. By all accounts, Smith was a fascinating figure — he was an authority on folk music, and his exhaustive Anthology of American Folk Music catalyzed the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s. He was also an abstract painter, an experimental filmmaker, and a dabbler in the occult. Patti knew him from her days at the Chelsea Hotel, where he was also a resident, and where he died in 1991 — he figures prominently in her memoir, Just Kids. The video goes for over half an hour, and is well worth watching. … Read More
Based on a 2001 symposium at the Getty Research Institute, Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular surveys the artist’s influence on American film, music, and the visual arts.
Featuring color reproductions of Smith’s images, as well as essays by scholars, friends, and colleagues, the book explores the life of the 20th-century Renaissance man best known for his definitive Anthology of American Folk Music — a six-record compilation of commercial songs from 1926-1932 that helped facilitate the folk revival of the ’60s. The multifaceted mystic also achieved cult-hero status in the world of cinema for his experimental films, and received critical praise for his rare, freeform abstract paintings. … Read More