Artist Francis Vallejo will be at the Southfield Public Library (26300 Evergreen Rd, Southfield, MI 48076) on Wednesday, January 24th at 6:30 P.M. He will feature copies of his Horn Book Illustration Award winner Jazz Day: the Making of a Famous Photograph and discuss his creative process for the artwork. He will also do a Q&A. This event is free and open to the public. Book Beat will be supplying books for purchase. If you have any questions, please call Book Beat at (248) 968-1190.
What happens when you invite as many jazz musicians as you can to pose for a photo in 1950s Harlem? Playful verse and glorious artwork capture an iconic moment for American jazz.
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.
“When readers eventually open a foldout page to see the photograph, the moment is magic—alive with the presence and skill of the musicians, as well as the promise and potential of the children around them. Beyond being a glorious tribute to these jazz greats, the book is also a phenomenal debut for Vallejo, whose dynamic acrylic and pastel images bring readers into the heart of the action of a day like no other.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vallejo’s acrylic-and-pastel paintings vividly capture the shoot’s vignettes and the skittish excitement of neighborhood kids. Pulling details from a 1995 documentary film and other resources, Orgill and Vallejo offer a dynamic, multifaceted work that deftly juxtaposes biography with praise poem, information with imagination. Teachers, librarians, jazz-loving families: take note.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A rich, unique, playful, and masterfully orchestrated work; Kane himself would undoubtedly be proud.”
—School Library Journal (starred review)
He draws and paints primarily with analogue media while listening to questionable music. His work is made for a diverse range of clients, exhibitions, and personal projects.