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Social activist, singer, painter: Martin Guitar teams up with Joan Baez in new exhibition

A museum exhibit including paintings, posters and guitars all mounted on the wall.
Micaela Hood
Martin Guitar opened its Joan Baez exhibition on Nov. 14, 2023. The show features artwork and collectibles donated to the museum by the iconic singer.

  • C.F. Martin & Co. held a grand opening of its new exhibition, "Joan Baez: Musician & Artist"
  • The display features personal artifacts, artwork and letters on loan from the legendary singer and activist
  • The display will be up until April

NAZARETH, Pa. — Singer Sage Bava's long black hair moved with her sultry voice as she strummed the guitar to Joan Baez's song "Diamonds and Rust."

Saga Bava performs at opening of Martin Guitar’s opening of Joan Baez exhibition

It felt almost as if Baez, circa 1960, was there in the room.

Instead, it was Baez's guitars, artwork and other memorabilia that took the place of the legendary songstress at the grand opening of “Joan Baez: Musician & Artist," held Tuesday at C.F. Martin & Co. Guitar Museum and Shop.

The exhibition will be open to the public through April.

Years in the making

Joan Baez exhibition opens at Martin Guitar

The exhibition was curated by Robert Goetzl and Jason Ahner and took about 3 1/2 years to come together.

Goetzl reached out to Baez's team and the "Silver Dagger" singer agreed to share some of her belongings, including an intimate portrait of Bob Dylan.

The iconic pair had a passionate affair in the 1960s, which inspired her hit "Diamonds and Rust."

Micaela Hood
Joan Baez's artwork is part of a new display at C.F. Martin & Co. Pictured is a portrait Baez drew of Bob Dylan.

The new display coincides with the release of Baez's new documentary, "I am a Noise," now showing in theaters.

The exhibit features Baez's artwork, paintbrushes, personal letters, backstage passes, clothing and, of course, her famous Martin guitar.

The Martin model is a 0-45, made in the early 1920s.

"I think it costs $250 in 1963," Baez said during an episode of "Craft in America" that aired in 2015. "It was my first serious folk guitar. I had a Goya with gut strings, I had a gigantic Gibson that hung down around my knees.

"I have never been able to deal with a large guitar at all, so this one just came home. It has been everywhere with me."

Martin also custom-made for Baez, who is known for her social and political activism, a replica of the 0-45.

Micaela Hood
Joan Baez's famous Martin guitar is part of a new exhibition that features artwork and personal items on loan by the legendary singer.

She carried it with her during 1963's March on Washington and at Woodstock in 1969.

"The first dangerous situation that I remember was an anti-nuclear rally with Pete Seeger and they started pelting us with tomatoes and eggs and I took the guitar and put it behind me," Baez recalled in the same "Craft in America" interview.

"I didn't care what happened to me. I didn't want the guitar to get hurt. Pete meantime was getting bashed with all the vegetables."

Chris Martin, whose family founded the local guitar-making company in 1833, touched on Baez's poetry and compassion.

"I give a lot of credit to artists like Joan Baez, who fueled that movement of people wanting to hear a message from an artist that is looking at what is going on in society and trying to find a way to convey their thoughts about what's going on by using [just a] guitar and their voice."

Admission to the museum is free, though a $5 donation is suggested.

For more information, click here.