Snapshots: ‘First Edit’ shows off the incredible photography of JJ Gonson


Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.

Decades after she first picked up a camera, the photography of JJ Gonson is still everywhere in plain sight. Whether displayed in online photo essays on sites like Dangerous Minds or adorning the walls of her own ONCE Lounge and the old T.T. The Bear’s Place, Gonson’s snaps of Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Elliott Smith, and others from Boston’s raging mid-’80s to early-’90s music scene are documents of history.

There are the live shots from the clubs, and then the intimate portraits; spend enough time in the green room at ONCE, the independent Somerville live music venue Gonson owns and runs, and you’re bound to pick up a jaw-dropping photo of Kurt Cobain sitting in the front seat of a tour van, crucifix in hand and Melvins sticker above the door. It’s easy to get lost in Cobain’s stare back at Gonson’s camera.

That image is one of many “Oh shit!” images from Gonson’s personal collection, and now she is displaying nearly 30 of her favorite black-and-white and color photos for an exhibit called “First Edit” at Diesel Cafe in Somerville. The images, pulled directly from her negatives, are on display now at the Davis Square hangout until February, with the opening event this Monday (December 18) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“These images represent a great time for live music in Boston,” says Gonson. “It was rough, loud and sweaty and there were no cell phones or digital camera. These images were made on film at a time when indie bands were getting in vans and taking it on the road. Venues like The Rat, The Channel and T.T. The Bear’s come back to life through the lens of a young woman armed with a crappy Minolta camera and a lot of chutzpah.”

The featured image up top is from a Wipers show at the Paradise Rock Club sometime in the mid-’80s, and below are a few photos posted to Gonson’s Instagram page. Hit up Diesel Cafe between now and February to see the what exactly Gonson has pulled.

‘FIRST EDIT’ :: Opening December 18 at Diesel Cafe, 257 Elm St. in Somerville, MA :: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., all ages, no cover :: On display through February :: Facebook event page

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