SF Rec and Parks Welcomes Rock & Roll Photographer Jay Blakesberg to Harvey Milk Photo Center

Blakesberg to present photos through new medium for the first time in SF

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today celebrity photographer Jay Blakesberg, who has photographed legendary musicians such Jerry Garcia, Tom Waits, Santana and more, will be showing his work for the first time in San Francisco. The longtime San Francisco resident has chosen SF Rec and Park Department’s Harvey Milk Photo Center for his latest photo exhibit, “Dark + Light – The Rock and Roll Photography of Jay Blakesberg”.  The opening reception will take place on Thursday, November 9th starting from 5:30PM.



The show features over 120 images. These iconic photos have been culled from Blakesberg’s 39-year photography career and focus on his rock-and-roll adventure.  “Dark + Light – The Rock and Roll Photography of Jay Blakesberg” at Harvey Milk Photo Center – which will be Blakesberg’s first major solo show in his hometown –  will feature images taken back in the late 1970’s that include blues legends like Muddy Waters, BB King, James Cotton and Johnny Winter, taken two weeks after Blakesberg’s high School graduation.  Iconic portraits of Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana, many other titans of rock and roll who were shot on assignment for rock magazines such as Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, and Bay Area Music Magazine (BAM) as well as high energy performance photographs from the likes of the Grateful Dead and Neil Young.


“I have felt for a long time that what I was doing is visual anthropology.  I truly believe that the modern day rock- and-roll scene, both the artists and fans, are a unique tribe whose tale should continue to be documented and told, said Jay Blakesberg.  “When the conversation first started with Dave at Harvey Milk, I knew this was the perfect location to show this body of work. Without the constraints of a commercial gallery I am able to stretch out and tell my story, which spans 4 decades.  Everything is printed on “Chromaluxe Metal”, which creates a new vibrant viewing experience.  Harvey Milk Photo Center is a crown jewel with San Francisco Recreation and Parks, and I’m thrilled to align with the City of San Francisco on this project.”


According to SF Rec and Park Department’s Historian-in-Residence, Christopher Pollock, San Francisco’s first camera room facility was located at Hayes Valley Recreation Center and was created in 1949 by Clifford Nelson who managed the Department’s Visual Recreation division.  Throughout the years, the Photo Center moved to various locations, and in 1954, the City dedicated the three-story building located at 50 Scott Street to be the Recreation Arts Center that included the separate photo center containing 7,800 square-feet and a huge public darkroom, the largest in the West Coast.  The Center opened on December 19, 1957.  In December, 1978, SF Rec and Park Commission approved to rename the Recreation Arts Center after Supervisor Harvey Milk who was slain on November 27th and in honor the Supervisor who also owned and operated the Castro Camera Shop between 1972 until his death in 1978.


“SF Rec and Park is proud to be providing access to diverse recreation programming for San Franciscans,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager.  “And we are excited that our Harvey Milk Photo Center provides a great environment as a creative outlet for professional photographer like Jay Blakesberg as well as just about anyone who enjoys photography.”


The Dark + Light  — The Rock and Roll Photography by Jay Blakesberg at Harvey Milk Photo Center located 50 Scott Street in San Francisco will start on November 9th, 2017 through January 6th, 2018.  The exhibit ranges from moments backstage and onstage at festivals and concerts, to portrait assignments for magazine features, record companies and the artists themselves.  This exhibition explores the arc of Blakesberg’s career which he unwittingly began in 1978 at age 16.  Back then Blakesberg’s father had loaned him a Pentax camera to take pictures at a Grateful Dead concert in their home state of New Jersey.  Blakesberg’s first paid photography assignment came at age 17, in September 1979 when the Aquarian Weekly paid him $15 to run two photographs in the free periodical. In November 1987, Blakesberg landed his first assignment with Rolling Stone Magazine, photographing a free U2 concert in downtown San Francisco.


Harvey Milk Photo Center offers many courses in various subjects to meet the needs of aspiring and established photographers alike.  The Center also provides its members full access to the oldest and largest darkroom in the west, full feature film processing areas, and state-of-the-art digital lab.  Members also have the opportunity to take part in its annual “Members, Staff & Volunteer Exhibit” each year, located in the Photo Center’s large studio space, which is perfect venue for some of the best exposure in San Francisco.


Rec & Park Logo