In 1988, folk music legend David Crosby sat down on a couch in a dressing room, alone except for a few jackets draped over chairs in front of him. He put his hands in his lap and closed his eyes.
On the other side of the room, Crosby’s longtime friend and bandmate Graham Nash had his camera at the ready.
The ensuing photograph, entitled “David Crosby, Alone (1988),” was one of the many of Nash’s on display as part of the “Visual Harmony” exhibit of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which regularly showcases fine art and music photography, at the Mens Market at Hirshleifers within the Americana shopping center last Wednesday.
“I’ve been a photographer for a lot longer than I’ve been a musician,” said Nash, who met with fans and photography collectors at the exhibit’s opening.
The limited edition, black-and-white, hand-signed prints – with sizes ranging in price from $1,500 to $3,500 apiece – feature some of the most prominent members of rock history, such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, often during private moments away from a stage or microphone.
“I’ve always been a believer in the great spirit of the universe – whether you want to call it God or Buddha or Mohammad or whatever – that is sort of behind everything that happens in the world,” Nash said. “So I’m aware of how special these moments are, and I try to capture them whenever I see something in my mind and am able to get in touch with that spirit in a very profound way.”
Nash, who was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 as a founding member of Crosby, Stills and Nash and in 2010 with the Hollies, first began taking photographs at age 11 and continued the hobby as his music career progressed, organizing the fine art digital photography printing group Nash Editions in 1991.
“I know the moment can be a split second or 30 seconds when the subject is in a certain mood,” Nash said. “There really is a decisive moment, like in the photo I have of Judy [Collins] kissing Stephen [Stills], if I had gone to take that a split second later, it wouldn’t be the same picture.”
The Manhasset visit was the first of two New York appearances on behalf of the Morrison Hotel Gallery for Nash, who displayed work at the gallery’s SoHo location April 25.
The Morrison Hotel was founded in 2001 by former record executive Peter Blachley, artist and musician Richard Horowitz, and legendary music photographer Henry Diltz, who captured the cover image of the Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” album in addition to the cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut record.
Today, the Morrison Hotel represents more than 90 of the most famous music photographers in the world, and showcase their work once a month at its Gallery in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
“Most of our them are fine art music photographers who people know through their work, but may not necessarily know who they are,” Blachley said. “What’s interesting is that when people meet these photographers, they are really only one link away from their favorite artists, because they’ve worked with them and of course they’re very well-known.”
Blachley told Blank Slate Media he first met Nash more than 30 years ago, when he and Diltz interviewed Nash at his home in California as part of a documentary called “Under the Covers,” about the making of classic album covers from the late 1960s and early ’70s. The documentary features covers from the Doors, the Eagles, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell, in addition to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
The Morrison Hotel held a gallery at the Mens Market at Hirshleifers from 2006-08 prior to opening in SoHo, and Blachley reached out about a year ago to bring Nash to Manhasset.
“I thought Graham would be ideal because he was a photographer before a musician and had a lot of credibility within the photography world, in addition to being someone that music fans know and would be excited to meet with,” Blachley said.
Blachley said Nash’s galleries have also brought out some of the musician’s famous friends such as Elvis Costello, who appeared at “Visual Harmony”’s SoHo opening and Browne attended the gallery April 17 in Los Angeles.
If and when more show up, Nash will be there, camera and all.
“I bring my camera with me everywhere I go,” Nash said. “I’m waiting for Elvis to come back.”