Caffe Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse

Organized in collaboration with the Caffè Lena History Project, this exhibition presents a selection of photographs and ephemera from the legendary Saratoga Springs coffeehouse. Widely recognized as the nation’s oldest continuously operating folk coffeehouse, Caffè Lena was opened by Lena Spencer in 1960. Over the years, the Caffè has hosted numerous folk artists, poets, writers, and activists including Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Utah Phillips, Pete Seeger, and Noel Paul Stookey.

Featured in this exhibition is a selection of photographs made at Caffè Lena during its first decade of existence by Joe Alper (1925–1968).

A self-taught freelance photographer, Alper’s work includes historic jazz, folk, and blues performance photography. His candid black-and-white photographs of the musicians, audience, and staff at Caffè Lena capture the Caffè’s intimate, creative environment. Alper and his wife, Jackie, played a key role in supporting founder Lena Spencer and her Caffè, often housing musicians at their nearby home. Known for clicking his 35mm Minolta camera in time to the music, his photographs reveal his reverence and affinity for the artists and their craft.
Exhibition Name
Caffe Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse
Exhibition Type
Solo Exhibitions
Winter Gallery
May 31, 2013 - Oct 20, 2013
Caffe Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse is curated by Dayton Director Ian Berry and Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs Rachel Seligman in collaboration with the Caffe Lena History Project.
Joe Alper
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