NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In 1973, Alex Harsley established the 4th Street Photo Gallery.
It became his studio and exhibition space, as well as the headquarters for his non-profit organization, Minority Photographers, Inc.
These days, he shares the space with his daughter Kendra Krueger, who works part-time archiving the gallery’s art and cultural relics that have accumulated over nearly 50 years.
“Back in 1958, when I first got into photography, I worked as a messenger, and that allowed me to get paid while, at the same time, walking around the streets, looking at images to take photos of,” Harsley said.
He chronicled the lives of African Americans in New York City, documenting street scenes and moments in popular culture. Over time, his camera allowed him rare glimpses into the private lives of politicians and celebrities.
The gallery’s walls bear images of Shirley Chisholm on the 1972 presidential campaign trail, a young Muhammad Ali on horseback, and a scowling John Lee Hooker poised to smack the camera.
For Harsley and Krueger, the 4th Street Photo Gallery serves as a salon space, a hub for mentoring, inspiration, and conversation.
“You come at any one given time, you never know who you’ll be talking with in here,” Harsley said.
“It is definitely a refuge,” Krueger said.
She sees people wander in and become mesmerized.
“It’s not the typical gallery layout where you have very clean, minimalistic walls, but it’s this sort of overabundance,” she said. “Some people will be here for hours looking through all of the different pictures. And I think it’s not just looking at it for art, but it is this historical search that they’re doing.”
The gallery’s GoFundMe Campaign seeks to raise money for the organization and inventory of copious photos, magazines, posters, postcards, and cassette tapes of interviews. Harsley and Krueger hope to compile decades’ worth of treasures into a community resource.
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