Jay Blakesberg
Rock & Roll Photography
Images: 1978 – 2017

This exhibit presents many of his iconic photographs taken on and off stage over the last 40 years. The exhibit features photographs of The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Radiohead, REM, The Rolling Stones and many more.

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 9, 2017 // 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Slideshow Lecture: Saturday, November 11, 2017 // 11:30am – 1:00pm (RSVP Required)

Dates: November 9, 2017 – January 6, 2017


  • MAIN EXHIBIT/RECEPTION: Harvey Milk Photo Center (50 Scott Street, SF)
  • SECONDARY LOCATION: McLaren Lodge (501 Stanyan Street, SF)


  • Dave Christensen, Director of the Harvey Milk Photo Center
  • Jay Blakesberg, Rock and Roll Photographer

Jay Blakesberg is such a highly talented photographer located in San Francisco, and a great guy!  He is our  “IT’” guy for Rock and Roll Photographers. It was an incredible pleasure working with him on this project, and working from literally thousands of images, he and I came to choose about 135 images for this exhibit, which showcase his many approaches when capturing these music Icons. “I have always wanted to create and produce a large photography exhibit which showcases musical artists, and Icons of Music, as this taps into our collective history and collective social experience”. “Music and photography transcends  languages, differences, is uplifting and  timeless.”  All elements we all so badly need more of today!  Music is the universal language of culture in my opinion. We all can relate to it easily, as it recalls memory by the sounds of the music. Jay’s brilliant collection of work is simply iconic, beautiful  and timeless. His work captures these incredible artists and musicians for all of us to enjoy”.

Once Jay and I had a meeting and we discussed this, the project was on, and since Jay had not had a photo exhibit, all the more reason to move forward. Jay wanted to also support the Harvey Milk Photo Center with this project we developed together, since he is aware of the important work that we are doing in the community. This exhibit is just a small sampling of Jay’s incredible work of 40 years!

– Dave Christensen

Curator’s Statement

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Dark + Light – The Rock and Roll Photography of Jay Blakesberg will be on exhibit at the Harvey Milk Photo Center from November 9, 2017 thru January 6, 2018. Featuring over 120 images curated by Harvey Milk Photo Center Director – Dave Christensen –  and culled from Blakesberg’s 39 year photography career, the photographs show all aspects of Blakesberg’s rock and roll adventure with a camera. From backstage to onstage at festivals and concerts, portraits for magazine features, record companies and the artists themselves this exhibition explores the arc of Blakesberg’s career from his start as a suburban NJ teenager taking photographs of his favorite musicians at age 16 right thru recent photos taken in 2017!  Blakesberg fondly describes his work as visual anthropology and he beautifully captures the pop culture Icons and individuals, who have graced the stages and performance halls of America since 1978. These artists who bare their souls in lyric and music – is sensuously brought to life through Blakesberg’s artful lens.

The exhibition features iconic images of blues legends (all now sadly deceased) Muddy Waters, BB King, James Cotton and Johnny Winter taken in 1979 –  two weeks after Blakesberg’s high School graduation. There are portraits of Tom waits, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carlos Santana and many more that were shot on assignment for Rock Magazines such as Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, or BAM (Bay Area Music Magazine).  Photographs of whirling dervishes shot at Grateful Dead concerts stand beside photographs of stage divers and at Festivals such as Lollapalooza. It is Blakesberg’s hyper sensitive personality that is always scanning the scene looking for the unique and interesting photograph that will tell the story of that day! This exhibit presents many of his iconic photographs taken on and off stage over the last 39 years.

“I have felt for a long time that what I was doing is visual anthropology,” explains Blakesberg.  “I truly believe that the modern day rock and roll experience is a unique tribe whose story should be documented and told. I hope these photos help tell this story!”

About Jay Blakesberg

In 1978, at age 16 Jay Blakesberg’s father loaned him a Pentax camera to take pictures at a Grateful Dead concert in his homestate of NJ. That was the beginning of a 40-year adventure photographing the rock and roll experience.

His first paid assignment came in September 1979 when the Aquarian Weekly paid Jay $15 to run two photographs in the free weekly. In November 1987, Jay landed his first assignment with Rolling Stone Magazine to photograph a free U2 concert in downtown San Francisco.

Please also visit a selection of Rock & Roll photographs taken by Jay Blakesberg in Golden Gate Park, on display at the McLaren Lodge.



Harvey Milk Photo Center

Call for more information: 415.554.9522

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 3pm – 9:00pm
Wednesday: 5pm – 9:00pm
Thursday: 3pm – 9:00pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm



McLaren Lodge

Call for more information: 415.831.2700

Mon-Fri: 9am – 5pm
Closed: Sat & Sunday

Page Photo Credits: Jay Blakesberg.

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Operation Hours:

Monday: Closed
Tue-Thur: 3pm-10pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 11am-6pm

50 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA


Gallery Hours:

Monday: Closed
Tue-Thur: 3pm-9:30pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: 10am-5:30pm
Sunday: 11am-5:30pm


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