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Sonny Boy Williamson Charcoal Artwork by Pittsburgh Artist George Gist From The Original Teenie Harris Photo LE 5/500Go Back
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Presented is a very realistic charcoal drawing of Sonny Boy Williamson. He is tipping his cap to the crowd. This artwork titled “Sonny Boy Williamson” was created from an original Teeny Harris photo. The African American artist George Gist is from Pittsburgh and he is known for his incorporation of culture and history into his work. He also is a jazz musician and accomplished muralist in the city. He signed the work at the bottom and it is dated numbered 5/500 in the series. Due to their popularity, these are very difficult to obtain.
This particular charcoal was created from the Teenie Harris collection. The late Charles “Teenie” Harris, the dapper photographer whose thousands of images captured celebrities and chronicled decades of black life in Pittsburgh, died June 12, 1998 at the house where he had lived for most of his life.
He was 89, two weeks shy of his 90th birthday. Born in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1908, Harris began his photography career in the early 1930s. He opened a photography studio on Centre Avenue with $350 he borrowed from his brother Woogie, a well-known numbers runner in The Hill. In 1936, he joined the staff of the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the few black-owned weekly newspapers at that time to have a national circulation, and quickly built an unprecedented rapport with Pittsburgh’s African-American community.
Harris worked for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1936 to 1975, including the era when it was the nation’s biggest black newspaper. Harris was without rival in his access to black homes. He photographed celebrities-Lena Horne, Martin Luther King Jr., Satchel Paige, Muhammad Ali-but was also noted for his poignant pictures featuring black cab drivers, musicians, meter maids, policemen and thousands of others. One famous photo shows preschoolers reenacting a wedding. “He was the first person to see black people with dignity, more than anyone else did,” said Greg Lanier, a black freelance photographer from Pittsburgh.” (Courtesy of the Negro League Baseball Players Association) This charcoal is 36×24 and is of Sonny Boy Williamson-great musician noted for his song “Eyesight to the Blind” which was performed by The Who as a key song in their rock opera Tommy (the only song in that opus not written by a band member) and it was later covered on the Aerosmith album Honkin’ on Bobo.