Photo by Kathy Sloane

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Lewis Watts

Lewis Watts is a photographer, archivist/curator, and professor emeritus of Art at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research and artwork centers primarily around the “cultural landscape,” focusing on communities of the African Diaspora in the San Francisco Bay Area, New Orleans, and Harlem, and most recently in Cuba and France. His research examines the imprint of migration. He has recently retired after teaching at UCSC and UC Berkeley since 1978.

He is coauthor of the 2006 book, Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, which features oral histories and his restorations of salvaged photographs that portray musicians, patrons and the cultural life of the vibrant jazz scene in the Fillmore District during the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. His book, New Orleans Suite, cowritten with Eric Porter, published by University of California Press in 2013. He is also working on an extended photographic project in Cuba. Personal website:

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

  1. A good pair of Levi’s
  2. Chocolate chip cookies
  3. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
  4. Robert Frank’s photographs
  5. Comfortable tee shirt
  6. Photographing in Harlem, Tremé, and Chateau Rouge
  7. Gumbo
  8. Film (although it is also a pain in the ass)
  9. Eric Satie
  10. A good swim

Lewis Watts's contributions: