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Exploring Virtual Village Voices, Part 4: Bob Dylan, Martha Graham, and Lorraine Hansberry

In 2021 and 2022, Village Preservation developed an innovative outdoor public art exhibition that was displayed throughout Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. VILLAGE VOICES featured photographs, artifacts, and soundscape recordings to celebrate and honor the artistic, social, political, and cultural movements that have grown in our neighborhoods, and the people who gave them voice. 

We have now made those exhibits permanently available online. Today we explore three more of our 31 shadowboxes from the event: Bob Dylan, Martha Graham, and Lorraine Hansberry.

Bob Dylan

Legendary musician, singer, and songwriter Bob Dylan began his stellar career in Greenwich Village in January 1961: His first NYC apartment was at 161 West 4th Street between Jones and Cornelia Streets, and he began playing at sites throughout the neighborhood including Cafe Wha?, The Gaslight Cafe, and Gerde’s Folk City. (You can explore his haunts from the period via a Village Preservation map here.) 

In the six decades that followed his arrival in New York, he has written more than 500 songs, including socially conscious anthems like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’” that helped stir the civil rights and anti-war movements, and recorded 40 studio albums. Dylan has also earned a Nobel Prize in literature, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, an Academy Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame.

This exhibit, presented in augmented reality, allows the viewer to “enter” this historic 1965 photograph by photographer Fred W. McDarrah and to sit on the bench virtually with Bob Dylan in Christopher Park.

The audio is narrated by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of Village Preservation.

Martha Graham

Martha Graham’s remarkable career as a dancer and choreographer spanned more than 70 years, from 1894 to 1991. She was a pioneer and a visionary, creating her own unique vocabulary of movement while demonstrating that modern dance could explore the depths and expanse of human emotion and a dance technique that could embody the essence of human narratives. All over the world today, elements of her movement technique have become foundational in dance, earning Graham the title of “Mother of Modern Dance.” 

Graham had a studio at 66 Fifth Avenue throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The company she founded in 1926 has recently returned to Greenwich Village, and is now located at 55 Bethune Street in Westbeth.

Martha Graham shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

Narrating the audio is Leslie Mason, Leslie Mason is a curator and creator of VILLAGE VOICES, long-time trustee of Village Preservation, Greenwich Village resident, and townhouse real estate specialist for Douglas Elliman.

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry was a staple of the progressive, creative scene in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 1960s. Her best-known work, A Raisin in the Sun, was the first play performed on Broadway written by an African American woman. Hansberry was a New School graduate, a political organizer, a furtive participant in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, and a social justice advocate. She also inspired Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”

Hansberry’s first apartment in the Village was at 337 Bleecker Street, where she lived from 1953 to 1960; she then moved to 122 Waverly Place, the site of a Village Preservation plaque installed in 2017.

Lorraine Hansberry shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

The audio is narrated by Dr. Imani Perry, a biographer and scholar of race, law, literature, and African-American culture, and a professor at Harvard University who was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2023.

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