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MTA Arts & Design


116th Street

Vincent Smith

Minton's Playhouse (uptown), The Movers and Shakers (downtown), 1999

Glass mosaic on platform walls

Vincent Smith's mosaic artwork showcases the nightlife, culture, and personalities from Harlem's heyday. The Movers and Shakers portrays sixteen Harlem visionaries in front of the important places in their careers: Edward "Duke" Ellington and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson at the Apollo Theater, Langston Hughes before the National Black Theater; and Zora Neale Hurston and Alvin Ailey at the Studio Museum. Nearby, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey and a young Thurgood Marshall appear. On the opposite wall, jazz pioneers are rendered as composite figures inspired by Smith's recollections of those who created the new sound. His musicians energetically play their music against a background of yellows, blues, and greens that hint at Africa and the Caribbean, inspiration for the rhythms and music that is jazz. The title, Minton's Playhouse refers to a popular jazz club Smith frequented.

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