2018-06-06 / Front Page

Photographer To Recreate Famous Portrait With A Distinctively Queens Flavor

Art Kane, Harlem, 1958.Photo Courtesy Art Kane’s ArchivesArt Kane, Harlem, 1958.Photo Courtesy Art Kane’s ArchivesHistory is going to repeat itself … although with some unique Queens flavors.

On Aug. 12, 1958, freelance photographer Art Kane took a photo of 57 jazz musicians in front of a brownstone on 126th Street in Manhattan for the cover of Esquire magazine. Dubbed “Harlem 1958,” the black-and-white image of Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and other legends symbolized the genre and the neighborhood’s moment as the world’s center of jazz.

Fast forward to June 9, 2018, and Art’s son, Jonathan Kane, is going to honor the 60th anniversary of this iconic snapshot by taking his own visual portrait in front of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Jonathan, who is also a professional shutterbug, lives in Jackson Heights. The shoot was originally planned for May 19, but got rained out.

Working with the Queens Tourism Council, Jonathan plans to assemble dozens of Queens residents for about three hours on Saturday, June 9, from 8 am until 11 am. They will enjoy some breakfast provided by Redwood Deli in Forest Hills and each other’s company before posing in the same basic T formation as seen in “Harlem 1958.” Jonathan is going to rent a riser from Queens Theatre to recreate the T shape.

People who want to participate in this event, which is entitled “A Great Day in Queens,” should contact Rob MacKay, who runs the Queens Tourism Council, at rmackay@queensny.org. All participants will receive a free copy of the photograph, but there is no other form of compensation, except for the free breakfast. Wearing traditional garments is encouraged, but not required.

“Queens is the most diverse county on the planet. We speak more than 100 languages and profess countless faiths and creeds. And I am so proud that we all get along so well,” stated MacKay. “A Great Day in Queens will brand our borough for generations. The likeness could be used for any number of purposes, including education, tourism, fund-raising, decoration, marketing, and general pleasure.”

Added Jonathan, who has been shooting location photography and producing video for the automotive and trucking industries since 2008: “It’s long been a dream of mine to recreate the image, but with a social and conceptual twist. We are living and celebrating everything that’s great about America every day, and it’s time to share that with the world in a bold and dynamic way.”

Jonathan will actually take many shots. The Queens Tourism Council will choose 12 of them and publish a 2019 calendar entitled “A Great Day in Queens.”

MacKay informs that all borough residents are invited. He has already recruited people from the following countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Anguilla, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, The Philippines, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Vietnam.

He wants more.

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