Tony Bennett: Portrait of An Artist

Tony Bennett: Portrait of An Artist

The Photography of Kelsey Bennett and Josh Cheuse Celebrating New Music Collaborations From Tony Bennett’s New Album DUETS II

NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Morrison Hotel Gallery SoHo is thrilled to present a special press preview and reception for Tony Bennett: Portrait of An Artist, the photography of Kelsey Bennett and Josh Cheuse, in celebration of the legendary artist’s new album, DUETS II (RPM/Columbia Records) on Tuesday, September 20th from 6-7 PM followed by a reception from 7-9 PM.Kelsey Bennett

No one in popular American music has recorded for so long and at such a high level of excellence as Tony Bennett. With millions of records sold world-wide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Tony Bennett has received fifteen Grammy Awards, among many other honors, and is one of only a handful of artists to have new albums charting in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and now in the first two decades of the 21st century.

In 2006, Duets: An American Classic was released. The album — which included performances with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Bono and others — won three Grammy Awards.  Duets became Tony’s best selling CD to date achieving multi-platinum sales.

Now, with DUETS II, the new release is garnering heavy buzz and includes a roster of diverse artists including Lady Gaga, Andrea Bocelli, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Carrie Underwood, and Amy Winehouse among others. DUETS II was recorded live in the studio with Tony performing side by side with his duet partners.  The recording process took Tony to Los Angeles, Nashville, NY, London and Pisa, and afforded the singer the opportunity to visit his ancestral home in the Reggio-Calabria region of Italy.

Says Tony, “What I’ve discovered in collaborating with these very talented young, contemporary artists on DUETS II is that the young artists really enjoy singing these wonderfully crafted songs that constitute the American Songbook.  It has been a personal and professional thrill to collaborate with the artists on DUETS II and to know that a new generation has an opportunity to experience these songs.”

Kelsey Bennett, granddaughter of Tony Bennett, started developing photographs in the dark room at age 12; she was taught by her grandmother.  At 16, she studied at The School of Visual Arts for Photography and upon graduating high school attended Parsons School of Design.  In 2005, she moved to Cambridge, Mass. where she got her first job as a photographer at an arts and entertainment paper called The Weekly Dig, where she began shooting cover images.  Still living in Boston, Kelsey began commuting to New York to intern for photographers Danielle Levitt and Annie Leibovitz.

In 2010, Bennett had her first and critically acclaimed solo exhibition in NYC at The Christopher Henry Gallery, Hypnogogia. Her second solo show, On The Lam, soon followed, hailed as a compelling visual autobiography of Bennett’s ongoing exploration of her own identity and a documentation of the collective desire to escape ordinary life.  In July 2011, she held her second exhibition at The Christopher Henry Gallery, Black Velvet: The Godfather of Soul, the story of a James Brown impersonator. Bennett’s work has also been featured at The Lu Magnus Gallery, as well as the Scope and Fountain art fairs.

In working with her grandfather on the DUETS II project, Kelsey has been able to travel the world photographing legends such as KD Lang, Amy Winehouse, Willie Nelson, and of course, Tony Bennett himself.  When not on the road with her camera, Kelsey works as a baby photographer on the maternity ward.  Bennett brings her camera into the hospital and is developing a series, focused on the individual families and worlds each baby is born into.

By the time Josh Cheuse was sixteen years old he was photographing bands in the New York City nightclubs that would soon become his second home.  In 1981, he used the payphone at his high school to call The Clash at Electric Ladyland Studios in Manhattan to ask if he could photograph the band. What he got was an invitation to what would become a lifetime career of creating imagery for the music world.

After winning a full scholarship for photography to the School of Visual Arts in New York, Josh immediately hit the road with Big Audio Dynamite, coming back to school only to use the darkroom. He began designing merchandising and sleeve artwork and shooting video with an early portable Sony camera. He photographed his friends the Beastie Boys and documented the rising hip-hop and reggae scenes for publications such as SPIN, Rolling Stone, Musician and Time Out.

Josh produced and directed two videos for Joe Strummer and after the artist’s untimely death in 2002, directed a video tribute for Joe’s version of the “Redemption Song,” sponsored by Hellcat Records and MTV2.

From 1993 until the present, Josh has been an art director at Sony Music, creating packaging and websites for artists including Bob Dylan, Run-DMC, Rod Stewart and Tony Bennett, while still finding time to go on the road to photograph favorite groups like Oasis, The Black Crowes, and MGMT.  His first book of photography, Rockers Galore (Stussy Books), was published in 2007 and he has exhibited in Moscow, Tokyo, Paris, and at The Brooklyn Museum.

Of Tony Bennett: Portrait of An Artist, Peter Blachley, co-owner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery says, “I was born in San Francisco and my earliest childhood musical memories are of Tony Bennett‘s classic song about my home town. Tony Bennett exemplifies what the true art of music represents for all of us and we are very proud that we were chosen to represent this show. Kelsey Bennett and Josh Cheuse have done an amazing job of capturing the creative essence of the recording process and the true warmth and respect that has developed between Tony and his musical guests. Both of these photographers show extraordinary skill and talent.”

The show will run at the gallery’s 124 Prince Street location from September 21st through October 9th.

The Morrison Hotel Gallery was founded in 2001 by Peter Blachley, a former record company executive, producer Rich Horowitz, a former independent record store owner, and Henry Diltz, a legendary music photographer. The gallery has since grown to become a major brand in fine art music photography and is respected amongst peers and artists alike.