Govinda Gallery rocks and rolls

11 years ago by in Uncategorized Tagged:


Govinda Gallery owner Chris Murray, 59, is a busy man.

Discussing the gallery by phone, while driving to Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, Murray spoke about the way he selects art for his gallery.

“For me it’s not the subject of the work of art, it’s the art itself. Does it grab me in a certain way? Does the painter or photographer provide thought-provoking work?” Murray said.

“Do I think people coming to the gallery will like it?” he reflected.

Murray and his gallery have been a source for rock-and-roll photography in the District for more than 30 years. According to the gallery’s Web site, Govinda Gallery shows the largest collection of music-related photography in the world. Exhibitions have included Alfred Wertheimer’s photographs of Elvis Presley, Frank Stefanko’s portraits of Patti Smith and Kate Simon’s photographs of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Murray is a man in love with what he does for a living. The trip to the Warhol Musuem was for his own amusement, though it may seem like homework to someone else.

Copyright Allan Tannenbaum. Courtesy Govinda Gallery.

Copyright Allan Tannenbaum. Courtesy Govinda Gallery.

An interesting connection is that, photographer Annie Leibovitz, currently on show at the Corcoran Gallery, had her first exhibition in Washington at Govinda Gallery in 1984. That year, Murray purchased the Leibovitz photograph of a Rolling Stone cover that displayed Lennon in the nude with Ono. The photograph became larger-than-life, as it was taken the day Lennon was killed in December 1980.

Tannenbaum’s John & Yoko: A New York Love Story includes a series of photographs taken in November 1980, showing Lennon and Ono strolling through Central Park near their home. Other pictures show the couple wearing Japanese kimonos, in various stages of undress, and nude in bed together. The pictures suggest an intimacy between the photographer and his subjects.

Shortly after these pictures were taken, Lennon was murdered. Tannenbaum later took a few pictures of Ono in Central Park, this time alone.

“In the other photos, you see the love, and in these you see the loneliness and the grief. I feel the pain in my own body just thinking about it,” Tannenbaum told the Washington Post.

Coming next at Govinda Gallery, is the artist Carlotta Hester. Her never-before exhibited work will be on display in April 2008. Murray described Hester’s work as a fabulous collage “of sketchbooks, with painting, drawing, all mixed together. It’s so original and striking.”

Copyright Allan Tannenbaum. Courtesy Govinda Gallery.
The current exhibition, a series of photographs by Allan Tannenbaum entitled John & Yoko: A New York Love Story,is quite special to Murray. He edited a book by that name, which was published this month on Lennon’s birthday, Oct. 9. The book coincides with the exhibit, showing a gallery of photographs from around the time of the rock star’s death.

Tannenbaum’s John & Yoko: A New York Love Story is on view through Nov. 10 at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. 202-333-1180. Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The book is $45.

Click here to watch a slideshow compiled by Observer reporter Joan Soley on a selection of the exhibit.

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