Billie "Lady Day" Holiday by William P. Gottlieb and Charles Caldwell

In Passing | Lady Day by George Slade link to post on Instagram

Cross over Interstate 94 on Broadway, heading west, and you move from Northeast Minneapolis to North Minneapolis. One of the first things you see along the street is Charles Caldwell’s massive mural ornamenting one side of the 4th Street Saloon. It features a portrait of Billie Holiday, an iconic rendering of this quintessential jazz vocalist.

Billie Holiday by William P. Gottlieb link

The painting is based on a photograph made by William P. Gottlieb in 1948 or 1949; on his web site, Gottlieb observes that around that time “I took a photograph often cited as the most widely used picture ever taken of a jazz person. Whether or not so, I believe it captured the beauty of her face and the anguish of her voice.”

I believe it may be one of the greatest images ever made of a person in the rapturous moment of creation. When I saw it glowing in the morning sun today, I had to pull over and record it. Thank you Charles, William, and Billie.

For more information about muralist Charles Caldwell, a longtime resident of North Minneapolis, please see the profile here.

For the 2005 New York Times obituary for Gottlieb, see it here on the photographer’s web site.

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