Among the city’s treasures is its community of artists, one of whose work I had come to study. Herb Snitzer is a photographer, collage-maker, painter, and whatever else strikes his fancy. But he is best known for his camera work, and I paid him a visit as I curated an exhibition of his jazz and New York photographs for St. Louis’s Sheldon Art Galleries. The show opened in 2008. Snitzer’s photograph of Louis Armstrong became the first in my own book Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz.
I visited Snitzer in December 2007 and he took me to his studio at Salt Creek Artworks to examine prints, contact sheets, old magazines, and whatever else would be helpful in putting the show together. For several days, we looked through Herb’s work and I had the pleasure of listening to the stories behind the photographs. He vividly described what it was like to work as photography editor for the jazz and culture magazine Metronome in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Snitzer is justly proud of his work and his deep commitment to an art of social justice is evident. You can find my essay on him—along with the photographs on display in St. Louis—here, and I also recommend Herb’s Glorious Days and Nights, a beautifully produced volume of memoirs and images published by University Press of Mississippi in 2010.
I’m thinking about Herb Snitzer and his wife, the painter Carol Dameron, because Salt Creek Artworks—a hive of activity that was a focal point for artists in St. Petersburg—has closed and the artists themselves have been dispersed. Virginia Woolf, thinking about the needs of women creative artists, wrote of “a room of one’s own.” Salt Creek provided that and more: one’s own studio, yes, but also access to friends, colleagues, and friendly critiques. In short, community. It was a good place to spend a few days and I miss the place for Herb and Carol and their colleagues and friends.
Herb Snitzer is far from finished with his work, and his prints are available at a discount (there may be delays filling orders because so much has had to move into storage). To learn more about this remarkable photographer and his work, check out his website.