18 Calendar

Telling the Story of Al Smith: An Evening with the Curators

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How do you tell the story of Seattle’s Central District, vibrant jazz scene, and much more through the lens of one man’s camera?

Join Seattle Arts Commission Chair Vivian Phillips as she hosts a conversation with curators Howard Giske, Al “Butch” Smith, Jr., Paul de Barros, and Quin’Nita Cobbins. Gain insights into the life and legacy of Al Smith and the development of MOHAI’s new exhibit Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith.

The Seattle on the Spot: The Photographs of Al Smith companion book will be available for purchase at the MOHAI Store during this event.


  • Vivian Phillips chairs the Seattle Arts Commission and co-chaired the effort to establish an arts and cultural district in Seattle’s Central Area. She is a member of the LANGSTON, KUOW, and University of Washington Foundation boards.


  • Howard Giske is MOHAI’s curator of photography, presiding over a collection of more than four million photographs shared with the public. He was a freelance photojournalist, creating feature stories for his hometown newspapers The Seattle Times, the Seattle P-I, and other publications such as Rolling Stone.
  • Al “Butch” Smith Jr. has worked closely with MOHAI the past several years by donating and organizing his father’s collection. Butch grew up in the Central District at 23rd and Yesler. Except for three years, he has lived in Seattle his entire life. He earned his PhD in education at the University of Washington, where he later served as a research professor.
  • Paul de Barros has been the jazz columnist for The Seattle Times and a regular contributor to Downbeat magazine since 1982. Founder of the Seattle arts organization Earshot Jazz and past program director of the Northwest Folklife Festival, he is the author of Jackson Street After Hours and Shall We Play That One Together?: The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland.
  • Quin’Nita Cobbins will receive a PhD in history from the University of Washington in 2018. Her research focuses on African American women’s history in the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on gender, politics, leadership, and social activism. She is currently the Assistant Content Editor and a contributor to

Location: Faye G. Allen Grand Atrium

Cost: $5 for MOHAI members / $10 general public

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