Simply put, there would be no music industry without photography. There would be no rock stars. Even the earless can see who’s been who in music history, a journey recently linked inextricably to music visionaries’ visages and pop culture framings — thankfully, musicians tend also to be good-looking. What’s more, though, there are hardly more complementary art entwinements than the seen and the heard, as it would be a dead, dead world without music to underscore the sights we see.
Alan Kozlowski understands this well. An accomplished photographer and documentarian of some of music’s biggest names and a musician himself, the S.B.-area resident will discuss the personal stories behind his work with an artist talk on Friday, July 7, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State Street). Until September, Kozlowski is showcasing 24 large-scale portraits of legends like Ravi Shankar, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Bridges, Norah Jones, and many more. The portraits show Kozlowski’s lifelong search for truth and beauty, a search first broadly witnessed in his work as director of photography for 1983’s television biopic For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story, continuing on to journeys worldwide with collaborators and creators.
When asked how he preserves the spirit of the musicians he photographs, Kozlowski, a dear friend to world-renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar, recalls a “very deep experience in the shade in Tibet” with teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. They engaged in a Tibetan practice of “immersion in the moment without trying to alter the moment,” their inner eye focused on “everything that is real without trying to inhibit or change it in any way. It totally changed the way I see.” He remembered working with people like Bridges and Browne, who both “allowed me to come up with something totally unique without trying to alter the experience.”
See musicians as they are, through Kozlowski’s eyes and stories, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Sometimes, the most impactful images are the fleeting ones we form in our mind, the quick glimpses and first impressions that shape our sense of others. As a kid, before I ever heard his booming voice, I could see from first glimpse that State Street shoe-shiner Daniel Collier was a big-hearted man, as he sat with his big beard and even bigger smile outside Joe’s Café. Many a longtime resident can picture the Arkansas-born performer bringing a big dose of love to lower State every week. His photo hangs on the wall in Joe’s, sound tracked by the chatter of reunited locals.
After years of health struggles, Collier passed away earlier this year. To celebrate his life, music group Shelter will help honor the legendary man at a community tribute to Collier on Sunday, July 9. Food, including Southern specialties like collard greens, will begin at 2:30 p.m., with tributes and music shortly to follow. No doubt, Collier’s warm, good-will-spreading spirit will prevail over the proceedings. “[I] don’t have any regrets,” he was quoted as saying in a statement before he passed away. “I’ve lived a beautiful life and I’ve got the chance to meet a lot of beautiful people.” As with his lived life, he met his last days with grace and strength. “This is just a stepping stone to the big times,” he said. “You can’t take anything with you when you die.”
A community goodbye to Rev. Daniel Collier takes place on Sunday, July 9, at 2:30 p.m. at Bethel Church of God in Christ (236 E. Cota St.).