Lewis Watts – Professor Emeritus

IRIE | ROCK - Lewis Watts

Lewis Watts

Professor Emeritus, UC Santa Cruz

Photograph: Raymon Holbert

Lewis Watts is a photographer, archivist/curator, visual historian, and Professor Emeritus of Art at UC Santa Cruz. He also taught at UC Berkeley and was a college professor for over 40 years. His research and art practice center around the “cultural landscape” and the inhabitants of that landscape, primarily in communities in the African diaspora.

Lewis is the co-author of “Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era” Chronicle Books 2006, Heyday Books 2020. He is the author of “New Orleans Suite: Music and Culture in Transition” UC Press 2013 and “Portraits” Edition One Books 2020. His work has been exhibited at and is in the collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Citè de La Musique, Paris France, The Berkeley Museum, Autograph London, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, The Oakland Museum of California, The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase NY, The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Hartford, Conn, Light Work, Syracuse NY, The Paul Sack Collection, San Francisco, The Crocker Museum Sacramento and The Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco among others.

Besides his work in the Low Country, he has recently been working on photographic projects on “The Black Presence in France,” “Mining the Archive” reproductions of book covers from African American Literature, and a portrait series, “Comfortable in Their Own Skins” of photographs of people of African descent who present themselves to the world in ways that are counter to negative media depictions.

A few words about Arthur Monroe, Abstract Expressionist painter

“I knew Arthur Monroe for many years. I believe I worked with him at the Oakland Museum of California, although for a much shorter time than he did. He was a direct connection to the Harlem Renaissance as a member of the next generation of artists in New York and he was also connected to the Beat Generation here in the Bay Area as well as being a strong member of the Black Creative Community. I was always inspired in his presence and by his paintings. I miss him deeply and I’m so happy that his legacy is enduring. His son Alistair and the rest of his family are doing a wonderful job to place his work in various museums all over the country.’

– Lewis Watts