Interview by Clare Gemima
Top photo by Daryl-Ann Saunders; the rest courtesy of Harvey L. Silver
EV Gallery presents Harvey L. Silver's first solo show in New York City, "Changin' Times."
A photographic time-capsule of America, which Silver started back in the late 1960s, "Changin' Times" showcases the photographer's kind, observational, and often voyeuristic image-building through photographs of musicians, hippies, artists, activists, strangers, and protesters, all photographed during a time of unprecedented historical change and civil unrest.
Through his subject’s expressions, and the macabre candidness captured in other arbitrary moments, like in some of his street photography, it is clear that Silver is a documenter, or maybe some sort of archivist, but most focally — an authentic and curious photographer.
I talked with Silver about his exhibition, which runs until Jan. 14, 2023.
Congratulations on your first photo exhibit in New York City, "Changin’ Times." What does it feel like to see your images in the gallery?
I grew up in New York City, so having a solo show in the East Village at the EV Gallery is thrilling. Even though my family lived in Queens — my father managed a professional camera store in Manhattan at 245 Seventh Ave., and I spent many teenage years wandering around the Village — it’s a homecoming.
Your work was shot in the 1960s and 70s. Why is it important to you as an artist to show it today?
In 1967, I started taking photographs seriously — working primarily in 35mm black and white, as well as color slides. I was able to chronicle a very historical period — music, counterculture, the anti-war and civil rights movements. I built my early portfolio in the late 1960s and 70s, and it was those photos of that unique period that Getty Images was interested in taking into their collection.
It's a modified salon — especially if you view floor-to-ceiling salons from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. For me, it was the best way to showcase a good number of framed prints in a relatively small space.
People are very interested in the images of period folk and rock icons (Gram Parsons, Buddy Guy, Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt). Still, most are drawn to the street photography — for example, the 1968 photo of the young child looking at a framed photograph of Robert Kennedy in a Fifth Avenue department store window as his funeral is going on nearby at St. Patrick's.
Among the photographs are several of my family taken in the 1970s, such as portraits of my wife, Cindy, or several of my older son, Eric. These images are artful but also very personal.
I have always admired Edward S. Curtis and his photographs of North American Native Americans taken in the early 20th Century.
What are your plans after "Changin’ Times"?
I will be part of a group show at Gallery 40 in Poughkeepsie in February (near where I live in Rhinebeck) — and I am always mining my archives of negatives and slides for inclusion in Getty Images. "Changin’ Times" runs through Jan. 14 at EV Gallery, 621 E, 11th St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. The space is open Saturday from 1-5 p.m. and by appointment (email@example.com, 978-799-9014).
You can find Harvey's portfolio here.
Clare Gemima is a visual artist and arts writer from New Zealand, now based in the East Village of New York. You can find her work here: claregemima.com.