Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

39 Robeson Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Email: info@BuskersAdvocates.org

Introduction and Services

Links, Festivals and References

Artists Directory

Photo-Journalism Project

Performance Locations Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas

Historical References

Books and References

Fine Arts Paintings, Photographs and Films

Legal Court Citations

Model Regulations

Sidewalk Democracy: Regulation of Public Space

The Malling of America: The Selling of America's Public Parks and Streets

India's Street and Transit Music

Avenues of Self Expression

Code of Ethics

Amplification Ethics

Subway Transit Artists

Women Street Performers and Sexual Safety

Email List

Stephen Baird's Home Page

(Detailed site index at bottom of page)

Street Artists in Fine Arts Paintings, Photographs and Films

Street artists have been represent in art and literature since the beginning of time-- from hieroglyphics on pyramid walls to the plays of Shakespeare. Books and films often have references to street artists and some have featured street artists as the primary character and in the story line.

One of my favorite contemporary visual artists who creates images of street artists is Gertrude Degenhardt. She produced a wonderful set of colorful and clever paintings and prints called "Von der Auderen Musik" in 1985. Her current work "Vagabondage" can be previewed at her web site.

Gertrude Degenhardt was born in New York and grew up in Berlin. She has worked as an independent painter and graphic artist since 1966. Gertrude Degenhardt has exhibited world-wide and received the Print Biennial in Cracov/Poland and of the Print Biennial in Fredrikstad/Norway awards. She lives and works on the Irish West Coast and in the Rhine Valley. Gertrude Degenhardt, Edition GD Klosterstrasse 1A D-55124 Mainz, Germany Tel. (0 61 31) 4 25 23, Fax (0 61 31) 4 57 17 Email: info@gertrude-degenhardt.de WEB Site: http://www.gertrude-degenhardt.de/

The legendary Commander Cody (aka George Frayne) has prints of his paintings of street artists Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson and "Street Singer" at his web site: http://www.commandercody.com

"Street Singer"

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston exhibits this painting titled "The Street Singer" by Edouard Manet dated 1862, She is holding a guitar and a flowers, eating some grapes and her dress shows a little petticoat at the bottom--all significant Victorian symbols. The painting is nearly 7 feet tall and is a very impressive work of art.

"The Street Singer" 

For additional images of street artists in the fine arts the library can be researched for art history books like Paintings of the British Social Scene from Hogarth to Sickert by E.D.H. Johnson, Rizzoli, New York, 1986. This book contains numerous images of hurdy gurdy street entertainers, Punch & Judy puppeteers and blind fiddlers including the cover jacket illustration of a painting by William Hogarth which shows a fiddler with a bear and monkey circus act..


This sculpture of Igor Fokin's puppet "Doo doo" is located in Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA where Igor charmed both young and old before his untimely death. For additional details on this sculpture visit the web site: http://www.igorfokin.com. Santa Cruz also has a statue dedicated to Tom Scribener the legnedary street saw player. See: http://www.santacruzpl.org/history/people/scribner.shtml


I have, as well as many street artists have, received gifts of art work, photography and writings from our audiences and peers. This painting was done by Kristin Brodie, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Summer Fellow, who worked in the Community Arts Advocates office in 2001.

Photographers and photo-journalist have documented street artists since the camera was first invented. The following three images I found on vintage post cards. The first is a wandering violinist in Abony, Hugary, 1921 photographed by Andre Kertesz. The second is the Oliver Band in Vaudeville, California, 1922 from the collection of Ole Brask. The third is Washington Square, New York City, 1974 by Richard Kalvar (Fotofolio, Box 661, Canal Station, NY, NY 10013).

Two recent photographic books, Street People by Janet Beller, MacMillan Publishing, NY, NY (1980) and Venice Beach by Claudio Edinger, Abbeville Press, NY, NY (1985) highlighted street performers and buskers.

The internet is now showcasing photographic images of street artists from around the world. These include amateur photographers' images taken on holidays to professional photo-journalists who have internet galleries to preview their work. One such photographer, Robert W. Castagna has a web site for The Harvard Square Document project. The lead photograph of The Harvard Square Document was entitled The Culture of Today. This photograph won the Award of Excellence from Photographer's Forum Magazine and was published in the Best of Photography 2001. Robert W. Castagna, 47 Cameron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 (617) 499-6994 EMAIL: rwcastagna@yahoo.com WEB: http://www.robertcastagna.com

"The Culture of Today" & "Die Hard" copyright © Robert W. Castagna

There are hundreds of hours of tapes and records recorded on the streets of this country in the Library of Congress Folk Archives. See: "The Music of New Orleans," FA 2461-2465; "Street Cries and Creole Songs of New Orleans," MR Z9F-W546, 1956; ''Rev. Gary David," BLP 12030; "Blind Lemon Jefferson," RLP 12-125; "Blues Roots," G 6576a; "New York Street Music," recorded by Tony Schwartz, Folkways, FD 5581, 1957; etc.


Snooks Eaglin New Orleans Street Singer, Folkways Records FA 2476, 1959-1968.  Note: Now from the Smithsonian which holds the Folkways Records recordings: 2005 collection "New Orleans Street Singer" SFW40165

Folkways Records released New Orleans Street Singer in 1959 and the album set the world of folk and acoustic blues fans on fire. Snooks Eaglin was in the early stages of his long R&B career when folklorist Harry Oster heard him playing solo on the streets of the French Quarter. That very recording, presented here with 7 previously unreleased tracks, captured Eaglin's genius and elevated him to the pantheon of eccentric, uncategorizable guitar virtuosos. 32-page booklet. 25 classic tracks. 68 minutes.
Complete collection at: http://www.folkways.si.edu/snooks-eaglin/new-orleans-street-singer/blues/music/album/smithsonian

Listen to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings of Walking Blues by Snooks Eaglin at https://soundcloud.com/smithsonian-folkways/walking-blues-performed-by

Buskers, RCA LSP4426, recorded on street of London 1970, produced by Ray Singer and Simon Napier-Bell

Bob Devlin Live At 18th and "M" Recorded live on the streets of Washington DC in 1976

Stars of the Streets - Encore, Cachalot Records, a division of Whale Productions,CA 125 Produced by New York Music Task Force, Recorded live in Bryant Park, New York City on September 30, 1980 by Al Fierstein assisted by Greg Guarino.

David Lannan - Street Singer , San Francisco SD202, Recorded live on streets of San Francisco at the F.B.I., Stock Exchange, City Hall by Mike Stands, Jeffrey Cohen and Bruce Good.


There are statues of street performers in numerous cities around the world.  This statue of the legendary bluegrass and folk artist Doc Watson is located in  Boone, North Carolina. "Watson, known for his modesty and humility, wasn't too keen on the idea at first. But he eventually agreed to the project on one condition: that a plaque on the statute read "Doc Watson – Just one of the people" "After he married Rosa Lee Carlton in 1947, Doc took to the streets of Boone to support his family. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he could be found regularly playing on King Street where his statue now attests to Boone's gratitude and profound affection for her favorite son. " Details at https://www.themastfarminn.com/docwatson-jotp/

Doc Watson Statue Unveiling: Doc Watson Sitting Beside Himself by Brian Adam Smith and Glory On The Floor
[filmed in Boone, NC]

filmed by Brian Adam Smith
music by Glory On The Floor
produced by Big Fest Media
sculpture by Alex Hallmark
a very special thanks to David Holt
© Copyright 2013 Brian Adam Smith
Film Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-ZAKF6zrAg


The most significant film on street performing was the 1940 Mayflower Pictures "Sidewalks of London." The story was written by Sir Walter Lane and the movie starred Vivian Leigh and Charles Laughton. The basic story line was a street entertainer adopts a homeless waif (Vivian Leigh) who becomes a star and the ethics of leaving behind those who helped a person succeed.

An earlier film, adapted from Earnest Hemenway's book, "A Farewell to Arms," starring Gary Cooper, released by Warner Brothers in 1932, showed a hurdy gurdy with puppets performing in Milan. "Gas Light" (1944) showed a crank organ player. Numerous contemporary films such as Fame, Kramer Versus Kramer, Tootsie and Conversation have street performing scenes. The last film, Conversation, showed Robert Shields performing as a mime at Union Square in San Francisco. Robert Shields went on to headline a television network variety show. See the Shield & Yarnell web site: http://performingarts.net/Shafman/Shields/index.html or http://www.robertshields.com/sny.html "The Shields & Yarnell team was born on the streets of San Francisco where Shields was plying his craft as a mime, getting slugged, hassled and arrested four times while showing people themselves - a clearly dangerous act but one which made him the top tourist attraction after the cable cars."

Robert Shields (Used by permission from http://www.robertshields.com/sny.html )

See YouTube video clip From the DVD Buskers Movie by Chad Taylor of Robert Shields performing in Union Square at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4YWep-Sj6Q

The 1977 film Sybil based on the novel by Rheta Schreib, starring Sally Fields and Joanne Woodward, featured a street musician character who is romantically involved with the lead charactor Sybil.

Actors from W.C. Fields to George Burns to Robin Williams have played the real life "Rags to Riches" story of a street entertainer becoming a film star.

Documentary films periodically feature street artists. The 1983 "The Winds of War," seven-part ABC mini series on W.W.II, showed a film clip of a fiddler performing on the streets of London during an air raid in 1939. The documentary "No Maps on My Taps" wonderfully showed African-American tap dancers reenacting the street tap dance competitions held in front of vaudeville theaters in the 1920s and 1930s. Visit pan flute player, Douglas Bishop's web site at http://panflutejedi.com/ to see the short internet video documentary shot on Burlington, Vermont, Church Street Marketplace.

Documentary film of Rev. Gary Davis "Harlem Street Singer"- http://www.harlemstreetsinger.com/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harlem-Street-Singer/146549208696429

Acoustic Traditions is proud to present Harlem Street Singer, the first-ever film to tell the little-known story of Reverend Gary Davis, the great ragtime and gospel musician. Tracing his journey from the tobacco warehouses of the rural south to the streets of Harlem, the film is a revealing portrait of an artist who impacted the musical landscape of folk music and endeared himself to musicians such as Pete Seeger, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, David Bromberg, Bob Dylan and countless others. Harlem Street Singer celebrates the beauty and spirituality of his music as well as the human qualities that made Reverend Davis a much beloved teacher and minister.

Glen Hansard, a former Dublin busker, won the 2008 Oscar and Grammy for the best song Falling Slowly.   The soundtrack to the low budget indie movie Once was written and performed by the film's stars, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová and directed byGlen Hansard's band bassman John Carney .  The film story line was about the romantic relationship of a down and out street performer and new love interest. There were many stories about this "fairy tale" story in the media.  Some links below:

Glen Hansard: how a Dublin busker got booked for the Oscars by Neil McCormick

Glen Hansard: Busker Makes Good  by Neil McCormick http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/neilmccormick/4349211/Glen_Hansard_Busker_Makes_Good/

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová "Swell Season" web site: http://www.theswellseason.com/

Glen Hansard - Falling Slowly Lyrics

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You'll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along

A fun side story of the above was a local Boston busker Steve Bacon performed outside the concert hall where Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová were appearing and was invited inside to perform on stage.

For this street musician, dreams are taking flight By S.I. Rosenbaum, Globe Correspondent / October 19, 2008 http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/10/19/for_this_street_musician_dreams_are_taking_flight/

Steve Bacon's web site has photos and clips of the event: http://www.stevenbacon.com

I have participated in four documentary films.

The first was a documentary film about my street performances titled "The Street Singer." It was filmed on the Madison, Wisconsin, pedestrian mall and produced by WHA Television (PBS) Station at the University of Wisconsin in 1982. It was nationally distributed in 1984. Wisconsin Public TV, 821 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706 Telephone 608 263-2121 800 422-9707 WEB: http://www.wpt.org

The second documentary film, "Street Art," was an episode of an educational film series from America! created by Louis Schwartzberg of Black Light Films in 1999. It was filmed in Cambridge's Harvard Square, the MBTA Subways and by the statue of Sam Adams in Dock Square, Faneuil Hall, Boston. Shows performances on a cold rainy day by several Boston area street artists besides myself including storyteller Brother Blue and magician Peter Sosna. Other segments of this documentary film shown on the Discovery Channel covered graffiti artists and art cars. Black Light films, 12700 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604 818-508-1833.

"Street Music" documentary film which focuses on NY street and subway artists by JD Marlow. Completed in July 2003. Available online at http://www.streetmusicny.com Site and dvd film includes historical and legal references, interviews with Susie J. Tanenbaum (Underground Harmonies), Robert Turley (Street bass player who filed Federal law suit against NYC) a host of other street perfomers, Music under New York administrators, Fred Kent from Project for Public Spaces, historical film clips by Willim H. Whyte, film clip of arrests. Comprehensive documentary explores performances in public spaces.

 Stephen Baird in "Street Art" from documentary film series America!

Black Light Films, Louis Schwartzberg, 1999

Buskers USA --  Film crew from Los Angeles is doing nation-wide documentary film on street performing in 2006. Filmed artists in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts -- other cities soon.  Eight members of the crew spent a day filming an interview in my home office on Spetember 1st.  Photo:  Abby Lautt, Mike Kowalezyk, and James Richardson filming on Boston Common, September 2, 2006.  


Street Arts and Buskers Advocates