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Spotlight On: Keith Major

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Spotlight On:

Keith Major


New York City native Keith Major’s love for photography and art began in his pre-teen years, when he attended after-school programs at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Pratt Institute. Keith specialized in photography at New York’s highly regarded High School of Art and Design, and after graduation attended the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

keith-major-modelWith more than 30 years of experience and a roster of A-list clients including Sony Music, Colgate-Palmolive, Essence and Cosmopolitan, Keith has achieved his childhood dreams and established a sterling reputation as one of New York’s most talented and productive commercial photographers.

Keith’s memories of his years at the HS of Art and Design

There was so much talent at  the High School of Art and Design. I was as much in awe as I felt at home in a very special place. I couldn’t help but to feel like we were all special. I was always curious about every single student, particularly the ones I didn’t know well or share classes with, “what talent brought them to this place? I’d ask myself.”


My love of the school started the day I took the test to get in, a love at first site that never faded. A&D was the start that gave me the confidence to pursue my photography career with clear purpose and intention.

See more of Keith’s photography on his website Keith Major Photography.

A Tribute to SIA/A&D Veterans

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“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
“From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

From Williams Shakespeare’s Henry V, those words couldn’t be more apropos for our art & design classmate veterans. May marks “Military appreciation Month” and the alumni association is paying tribute and honor to all those vets who answered a calling to serve in the United States armed forces. From WWII through the present, our student veterans have fought in every campaign since the school’s founding.

Some went on and stayed and made the military their career. For others, the military provided a launch into their art career. Al Plastino – co-creator of Supergirl and Brainyac and John Romita Sr- (Captain America), both designed and painted war posters while serving in the United States army.  SIA and A&D teacher Frank Eliscu (designer/sculptor of the Heisman Trophy) while serving in the army, invented and patented a medical tattoo device, which was applied on battle scars. Frank Eliscu taught at both schools and retired in 1972.

Here at the association, we –this writer, any day is a good day to pay tribute and honor to those who answered the call of duty.

We would also like to acknowledge and give thanks to their families and friends for remaining strong and reminding the rest of us that when a loved one is deployed, in peace or in war time– the families too endure much until their loved ones return. Thank you to all the SIA/A&D veterans, we’re more than proud and you all are the true meaning of every day heroes. I leave you with a salute for a job well done.

Now meet a few of our classmate veterans.



A Tribute to SIA/A&D Veterans (Vietnam)--continued

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A Tribute to SIA/A&D Veterans

Vietnam War (1955-1975)

PFC Eric Ribitsch was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was killed in action–South Vietnam in 1968 under hostile enemy fire. A sketch of his fiance which he kept was found in his wallet.

CPL Ghalib Ahmed Abdullah
SIA Class 1960
Sunrise 2.16.1943  |  Sunset 1.31.1968
Ghalib Ahmed Abdullah was in the 20th Engineer Brigade, was killed in action –South Vietnam in 1968 under hostile enemy fire.





Nestor A. Rodriguez
A&D Class 1962
Sunrise 1.29.1944  |  Sunset 12.16.2008
Nestor A. Rodriguez majored in modeling at Art & Design and was a navy veteran.

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A Tribute to SIA/A&D Veterans (1980s-Present)--continued

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A Tribute to SIA/A&D Veterans (1980s-Present)

When I graduated from Art and Design in 1980, it seemed like a good portion of my male classmates “disappeared.” Well, not quite. Years later, I was told during our 30th year class reunion in 2010 they literary had to report to boot camp the next day after graduation. Though the United States was no longer in an “active war” during the 1980s, still many of our classmate veterans faced hostile situations abroad prior to the Gulf War. Thomas Michael Tracy was a young marine in Beruit when terrorist blew up the marine barracks.


Nelson Narvaez
Class of 1980

Henry Ortega
Class of 1980


Wayne Truhart
Class of 1980
Photographer for
Joint Forces Command

Patrick Lewis
Class of 1985
Operational Specialist
USS Theodore Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier

Edward Lora
Class of 1988

Gulf War (1990-1991)



Our recently retired career military servicemen.



From one of many tribute to Colonel Rivera. “My wife and I are are very appreciative that you and our sons crossed paths serving in the Reserves. They always had high respect for you and it rubbed off on this Old Marine. I could see that you were a fine Officer, had Great Integrity and was a fabulous leader. I would have been proud to have served with you myself.”–Sam Otto


How about a father and son tag team?

Afghanistan & Iraq War (2001-Present)

Finally, we’re honored that among our classmate veterans we have a Bronze Star Medal recipient.

CPT Quiles had numerous deployments in various locations like Kosovo, Sarejevo, Macedonia, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. During his deployment to Afghanistan, CPT Quiles was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. CPT Quiles has obtained an undergraduate degree in Information Technology and a Masters Degree in Education during his time in the military. Captain Quiles obtained his commission as a Signal Officer.


We thank all classmate veterans for their service to our country.

No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation
— General Douglas MacArthur







Let the Music Play

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“Music happens to be an art form that transcends language”
–Herbie Hancock.

Music and art, have gone hand in hand since man clapped two sticks together and painted on cave walls. The HS of Art and Design has “churned” out an artistic wide range of talented artists from advertisers to typographers. Art & Design though well known for producing budding visual artists, the school has inspired a good number of musical talent in various musical styles and genre. Jazz, rock, top 40, dance and rap, A&D has its share of notables. From smooth crooner Anthony Bennettedo, but you all know him as Tony Bennett, jazz diva Lynette Washington, fusion jazz drummer Lenny White, Christian “Big New York” de Mesones, neo-soul singer /song writer Nicole Willis of Repercussions, Christopher Martin aka “Kid” from hip hop duo Kid & Play and rap lyrical artist  Pharoake Monch. Art and Design high school can add music to its list of “art” style.

The A&DAA would like to take a moment and “put on blast” those former students who may have missed a class to practice harmonies in the staircases, lyrical battles in the hallways. Hanging out a little extra nailing that guitar riff or getting in one more practice after class for the annual talent show.

Let’s look back and check out our musical “peeps.” As Meshell N degeocello would say, “yes I’m digging you… digging you like an old soul record.


tony-bennettTony Bennett (singer)
Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, New York City. Bennett attend the School of Industrial art, today is the HS of Art & Design. Bennett began singing at an early age. He is a World War II vet and after the war he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records, and had his first number-one popular song with “Because of You” in 1951. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.

He remains a popular and critically praised recording artist and concert performer in the 2010s. Bennett has won 17 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2001) and two Emmy Awards, and has been named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree. He has sold over 50 million records worldwide. In addition to all these accomplishments, Bennett is the founder of the Frank Sinatra High School, a New York city vocational high school with focus on the arts.

Mike Collazo (timbales) SIA class of 1953
Orlando Marin (timbales) SIA class of 1953. Considered one of the last Mambo King, Marin formed his first band, Eddie Palmieri and his Orchestra, in 1951-52. A 60+ career and counting Marin still performs today.
Joe Quijano (band leader, singer, timbales) SIA class of 1953
Dick Roman (Ricardo Sebastian De Giacomo, singer) SIA class of 1953
Bobby Weinstein, (song writer) SIA class of 1953


Eric Carr (Paul Charles Caravello, drummer), rock band Kiss

de-mesones-2Christian de Mesones (bass, Groove Skool Band)
Christian “Big New York” de Mesones has been playing bass guitar for over 30 years. His first major professional achievement as a musician was playing the military club circuit in a hard rock cover band on the island of Oahu in 1981. During the mid-eighties de Mesones’ heavy metal band Twice Shy was a staple of the local New York Metal scene, and shared the stage at the legendary L’Amour Rock Club with acts such as Manowar, Twisted Sister, Overkill, White Lion and Trixter. A resident of Lake Ridge, Virginia since 2003, de Mesones currently teaches bass guitar at A2G Music. Read more about de Mesones and listen to his music on de Mesones’ web site.

Frankie Knuckles (Francis Warren Nicholls, Jr, Dj/producer)
Bronx native, Frankie Knuckles moved from New York City to Chicago in the early 1980s where he played an important role in developing and popularizing a form of dance music into what’s known today as “house music.” Knuckles passed away in April 2014 and he will fondly be remembered as “The Godfather of House Music.” See A&DAA tribute to Frankie Knuckles. To read more about life and career of Frankie Knuckles, the New York Times and RollingStone Magazine wrote a very nice wrap up.

Perez Jazz (Jazz vocalist)
Born in Harlem, New York, to a homemaker mother of Cuban Irish decent, and a Puerto Rican father, a machinist who played congas and guitar in the Navy Big Band, she was drawn to music and art from an early age. By age four, Perez would hear a song once and recite the lyrics and hum the melody. However, as a creative person it was photography that eventually became her self-expression that eventually led her back to music. So transformed is she that her moniker has become, simply, PEREZ. Read more about Perez and listen to her latest tracks on her web site.

Lynette Washington (singer)lyntte-washington
Jazz vocalist Lynette Washington is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her extensive music career in jazz, R&B, and gospel, has taken her across the globe traveling as far as Australia. She has the gift and ability to sing in several languages including Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. Ms. Washington is a sought after artist for a variety of multicultural events. Lynette was the 2005 Grand Prize Winner of the Jazzmobile / Anheuser Busch Jazz Vocal Competition.

lenny-whiteLenny White (drummer)
Drummer and producer Lenny White has been continually pushing the musical envelope for 38 years. At 18 years old, White was asked by Jackie McLean to be a part of his band. In 1969, still a teen White performed with Miles Davis on the landmark recording “Bitches Brew.” White has been described as “one of the founding fathers of jazz fusion.”


Christopher Martin (rapper, group Kid & Play)

Mobb Deep (hip-hop duo)

Ivan de Prume (former drummer in the groove metal band White Zombie)

Roger Sanchez (Grammy Award winning DJ, producer, recording artist)

nicole-willisNicole Willis (singer/song writer Repercussions, Soul Investigators) Willis started playing music when she was a teenager. At first she wanted to become a ballet dancer, then learn to play bass, then sing. She said, “I was very shy so it was a slow start.  I do music because that seems to be what I do most readily, easily. I’m proud to be in the alumni along with the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Tony Bennett, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, the list goes on.” Willis has perform in many places across the EU (European Union) including: Spain, France Italy, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, England, Scotland, Wales, Southern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Finland where she resides today in Helsinki. Read more about Nicole Willis and listen to her music on the web site.


Fabolous (John David Jackson, rap artist)

Ppharoahe-monchharoahe Monch (Troy Donald Jamerson, lyrical artist, rap artist)




These following alumni have made the business of music their career path:

Ron Coro (art direction) The Cars, Candy O album cover

Milhan Gorkey Fishman (former VP & Press Relations for Charisma/Virgin Records ) See Mihan’s bio.

Ida S. Langsam (Public Relations, Aucoin Management)

Izzy Sanabria (emcee, comedian and founder of Salsa Magazine)

The A&DAA is proud of the musical contributions that our fellow alumni have brought to the world and us. The universe sounds a little sweeter and our souls lifted from the gift of sound and melody. Fly on little wing. 




Women HERstory Month

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March is Women History Month. In honor of the women in history, we’re focusing on the “Women in the Arts.”  Art and Design alumni who are ARTIST and women.
This series titled Shop Talk! Women in the Arts with…


Today we’re featuring designer and illustrator Gail Allouf. Read more >

janet-rudkowskiprofileJanet Rutkowski.
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janeprofileJane Denny. A New York City based artist and designer.
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Uncle Sy Barry('43) "The greatest of "Phantom" artists"!

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Alumnus Harvey Barry (’67) shares family memories on Facebook of his inspirational Uncle Sy Barry (’43):

Sy Barry "the Phantom"My uncle Sy Barry (accepted to the School of Industrial Art in 1943) is, in the eyes of many, the greatest of “Phantom” artists. He is certainly the yardstick by which subsequent Phantom artists are judged. Owning an original Sy Barry Phantom drawing or comic page is, one would suspect, an ambition of any serious Phantom collector.

Good news! Sy has a website which is focused on selling some of his original artwork on a limited basis. Items include artwork going back to the 1960’s.

It was Uncle Sy and Uncle Dan (famous for the comic strip Flash Gordon) who inspired my brother Rick (A&D Class of ’65) and me (A&D Class of ’67) to try our hands at art. Rick is a professor at Pratt’s Brooklyn campus. I run a one-man graphic design business from my home in New Jersey.

Website :




Sy Barry the Phantom



Sy Barry the Phantom