Black History Month, Omar Kharem Retrospective Blue Door Art Center


In honor of Black History Month, the Blue Door Art Center is proud to present a Black and White Photography Retrospective of the work of 93-year-old Yonkers resident, Omar Kharem. This exhibit opens Saturday, February 13, 2021 to Saturday, March 13, 2021.

Mr. Omar Kharem was born in New York City in 1927, and spent much of his life there, living in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. He was surrounded by art, theater, and music, with household visitors the likes of Fats Waller, as well as many other artists.

As a young man, while in service for the Army Air Force, Omar traveled the United States during segregation, as well as serving in the Pacific. This experience had a profound and lasting
effect on him. While on the island of Guam he began to study music and learned to play the clarinet. Once discharged he continued his studies at the Hartnett School of Music in NYC, also studying the Conga drum. Music, from his childhood introduction through his later studies, would remain a lifelong love.

In the late 1950’s Mr. Kharem became interested in photography, which became his major focus, though music remained ever present in his life. He spent many years working as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Panorama Magazine, on album covers and many publications of the work of African American photographers.

Having many friends in the then thriving Jazz world Mr. Kharem had a unique opportunity to photograph some of America’s great Jazz musicians as they improvised and played in clubs, lofts, and other venues. He photographed John Coltrane, Betty Carter, Archie Shepp, Alice Coltrane, Charles Moffett, Lee Morgan, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Eddie Mathias, Billy Harper and many others. The list is endless. His love for music and photography enhanced each other.

Influenced by Cartier-Bresson, Al Hicks, Eugene Smith, and Gordon Parks, photography became a true art for Mr. Kharem. His black and white images documenting NYC during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s evokes another time, another era which urge you to look further into the subject before you. Whether it’s a portrait of someone young or old, a candid street scene, or a shadow falling on a building, the power of his imagery is always thought provoking.

Mr. Kharem’s work has been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout NYC, including
The Studio Museum of Harlem, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Middle Collegiate Church Gallery, The 4th Street Photo Gallery and Kenkeleba Gallery.

Sponsored by ArtsWestchester and the West Chester County Government and Generous Supporters like you.

Contact Information Sponsorship Opportunities Available: Julie Cousens, Executive Director Blue Door Art Center

914 375-5100

About Blue Door Art Center

Celebrating 20 years, Blue Door Art Center (BDAC) is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, was founded in 2002. Our mission is to bring the arts to local communities throughout Westchester, especially those that are underserved by cultural organizations. Blue Door Artist Association organizes public art projects with the support of public and private funding. We work with local artists to install public art throughout the city including sculpture, murals and art banners. We offer art workshops and classes for children at local art festivals and in our gallery. We provide opportunities for artists to display their work in public and private spaces throughout Westchester. Blue Door Gallery presents widely attended and critically-acclaimed fine art exhibitions. We conduct community art programs at the gallery including monthly “Open Mic” poetry readings, writing workshops, art classes, and special events. Blue Door Cinema is a program of regularly scheduled film presentations at Blue Door Gallery and other venues. Our cinema program serves the entire Southern Westchester cultural community, with the goal of bringing enjoyment and appreciation of art to our community through the medium of film.