Newburgh Barbershops: Shaping Community is set to open at the Newburgh Community Photo Project on Sunday, March 31, showcasing photography and interviews that celebrate nine barbershops and their role as social and community anchors for Newburgh, NY.
An opening reception is set for March 31st from 5 to 7 pm. The exhibit will run through June 1st, and will be open on Saturdays from noon to 6 pm, or by appointment.
The evolution of barbershops is an under-recognized history, especially in the Hudson Valley. In the era of Jim Crow, Black-owned barbershops were safe spaces where African American men could freely socialize and discuss contemporary issues. Today, this tradition remains. In a city that is 3.8 square miles, there are 22 counted barbershops. For many African Americans, getting a haircut is an experience that builds community shapes political actions and establishes new meaningful relationships.
Vincent Cianni, photographer and director of Newburgh Community Photo Project (NCPP), along with NCPP photographers David Cordero, Therese Fischer, and Ronnie Farley documented the local barbershops through interviews and photographs as part of the Frederick Douglass in Newburgh project – a two-year project that seeks to commemorate of Douglass’ visit to Newburgh and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment giving black men the right to vote. The Restorative Center’s Gabrielle Burton-Hill and sociologist Richard Ocejo conducted the interviews.
The team interviewed and photographed the African-American and Latino barbers while they tended to their clients, capturing the atmosphere of their business. Interview questions ranged from first experiences and business naming to how they see their establishment witnessing and contributing to community building. The culminating photography exhibition and audio recordings explore local stories and histories, and the social impact of this service industry. The featured barber shops include Razor Sharp, Krispy Fresh Cuts, All Stars, Los Barbaros, Cross Cutters, Faded, Real G Kuts, Victor Barber Shop, and Levels.
The Newburgh Community Photo Project is located at 102 South William Street, Newburgh. For more information about Newburgh Barbershops can be found at HumanitiesNY.
Photo of Cross Cutters barbershop by David Cordero.