In July, on a hot summer night ,over 400 people converged on my studio to see the JB_HIP HOP MASHUP. From an idea curated by artist Cey Adams,  a list of his artist friends were sent a selection of my hip hop photos, they each chose an image to re-interpret in their own distinct styles. In true hip hop spirit the idea of re mixing and making something new from something old  – the MashUp came together.

We collaborated with the wonderful Juliet Silva Yee from Pop Up Art Event (PUAE) to make the event happen

Original artworks were created on archival prints by  Chino (Stetsasonic), Claw Money (Salt ‘n Pepa), Eric Adams (Flavor Flav), Faust (Afrika Bambaataa), Jester (EPMD), Morning Breath (Slick Rick), Revolt (Ultramagnetic MC’s), Trike (Dr Dre), Alice Mizrachi(Beastie Boys), T Kid (Fab 5 Freddy), Greg Lamarche (Big Daddy Kane),and Sharp (Donald D & Grandmixer DST)

I shot portraits of all the artists and each one gave a short description of why they chose the image and how they got their start in the world of graffiti.  Each one has a story, T Kid tells me ” I started writing graffiti at 12 years old when I was drafted into the neighborhood gang my first tag was king13 at 16 years of age (1977) after getting shot due to gang violence I changed my name to Tkid170 and became a king of subway graffiti I tagged the park I played in it was on Morrison Ave and Watson Ave South Bronx then it was nothing but subway cars”

Hip Hop from the Cornell collection

KEO (above) painted the mural of Bambaata outside the Gavin Brown Gallery. The show, curated by Johan Kugelberg features Buddy Esquire’s fliers, Joe Conzo’s photos, Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style – and you can buy some of Bambaataa’s priceless records to play at home.

Imanuel aka BB7nyc  stylin’ and profilin’ outside the gallery

The Cold Crush crew.

Graffiti – Queens reigns supreme in June

One  weekend a year the area called Welling Court in Queens becomes a street art gallery. The project organized by Ad Hoc has grown each year with crews of legendary, groundbreaking, and up-and-coming artists transforming the neighborhood into a public art experience. This year saw legends like John Ahearn who cast street legend Smith (below), Cey (above), Lady Pink (below), and many more painting from dawn till dusk.

Cern One

Lady Pink

Alice and Trap

John Ahearn casting artist Smith


MCA Beastie Boys

One afternoon Dave Sussman rolled up to my place in his beautiful 1976 Cadillac. The ‘BKLYNWAY/BEASTIECADDY‘ is covered in photos of the Beastie Boys, as a fan described it  “ain’t enough o’s in smooooooth!” Dave created this art piece to honor the passing of MCA who sadly died in May 2012.

Coincidentally Ricky Powell, the man some call ‘the fourth Beastie’, just happened to be passing by – I think MCA would be be looking down smiling.

HVW8 Rebel Cultures: Punks Rap Gangs

My show at HVW8 Gallery for Art & Design in LA opened last Thursday, big thanks to Tyler, Nikolai, and Addison for throwing a great party, as well as my girl Jen from Art Duet for kicking it up and getting press from the likes of Jay ZComplexLA Weekly (Jake you rule) and Brent Rollins for the photo above. The show is called ‘Rebel Cultures.Punks, Rap, Gangs’ : images from British punk era, LA punk scene, Old School Hip Hop, and the East LA Hoyo Maravilla gang series.

HVW8 Gallery  is at 661 N Spaulding below Melrose Open Tues-Sun 1-6pm until May 18 2014

Keith Haring

In 1985 I was working for the New York Daily News magazine when they asked me to shoot Keith Haring for a cover  story – I was already a big fan, I knew Keith’s work from the subway and my friend Kim (Paper mag) who’s home phone was decorated by Keith. So one afternoon I went to his studio on LaGuardia place. It was  was packed with paintings, and things Keith had covered in his signature style. There were tags from friends all over the walls, art from the likes of Warhol, paint pots, a Mickey Mouse phone, his bike, a decorated boom box, stuff everywhere.  He was a lovely man, he posed for me and we chatted all afternoon. He gave me a massive ‘Free South Africa’ signed poster which I treasure, it hangs over my desk today. Recently a new friend Ken Caruso came by to interview me for his antisociety blog he is a big KH fan and owns several of his pieces – he now owns the first of a new editioned print of mine (above) .

Today Keith’s work sells for huge amounts – a group of nine collectors of artwork by Keith Haring are suing the foundation that bears his name and its directors on Friday, accusing the defendants of “wrongfully destroying” the value of their paintings by publicly labeling them as fakes and refusing to consider information that would establish their provenance. I don’t think Keith would approve.

Graffiti Artists

I first became aware of graffiti in London in 1982 – taking photos of the first hip hop tour to come to Europe for Melody Maker I met Futura and Dondi White who tagged the dumpster outside the hotel for my photo (see above), or maybe just because that was what they did. Earlier that month I had photographed American rapper J Walter Negro painting a mural of New York trains for the Christmas cover of the magazine. I loved this new art

Moving to New York later that year the art was everywhere. Commissioned by style magazine ‘The Face’ to photograph the Rock Steady Crew I went to Harlem to shoot them break dancing on a piece of cardboard in front of a huge mural of a tiger’s head. I photographed BDP aka Boogie Down Productions in the Bronx in front of a graffiti covered wall, Salt & Pepa on the Lower East Side, Bambaata and members of the Zulu Nation in the Bronx,Eric B and Rakim in NYC with graffiti behind them, Stetsasonic in Brooklyn posing with the Stetson sign covered in tags and stickers.I wondered who these unknown artists were that painted the backdrops for so many of my photographs.

In 1983 I was in Los Angeles documenting the East LA gang El Hoyo Maravilla – their turf was centered around the Hoyo Maravilla park and clearly marked by the local artists. East LA was covered in paintings too I shot punk band The Undertakers (below) at their rehearsal space in the barrio.

And today I am still thanking amazing artists like Cope2 for giving so much ‘Flava; to my photographs, and providing a time line for these images in the future.

GoHardBoyz The Bronx 2013


Smutty Smith Tattoo

While working on a story for Rebel Ink Magazine in December I went with Smutty Smith (the Rockats) to  shoot him getting a tattoo by Baz at New York Hard Core. Baz, a rockabilly at heart, is fond of traditional and Japanese style tattoos. He spent 4 hours tattooing a lovely stand up base and roses on Smutty’s ribcage.

Smutty had tattoos when I first met him in 1981 – below is my photo backstage at the Whiskey in Los Angeles of ‘Rosemarie’ and a young friend admiring the art work.

John Ahearn

I went to John Ahearn’s studio in the Bronx to take a portrait of him for ‘Jocks & Nerds. I have been following his work since I first came to New York back in 1980’s. The studio was full of sculptures and the art tools he uses, buckets, the plaster casting materials for the moulds etc – I chose to photograph him in front of these double dutch girls. It reminded me of my first hip hop show in London back in 1982.

John ( who is the twin brother of my friend Charlie Ahearn ‘Wild Style’) came to NYC back in 1974. Working at the artist run Bronx gallery Fashion Moda, he publicly face-cast local people making plaster portraits – there he met the 18 year old artist Rigoberto Torres. Rigoberto had worked with plaster in his uncle’s statue factory in the Bronx. In 1981 they collaborated on a series of permanent neighborhood sculptures casting people like the double dutch girls (above). They are still working together today.
There is a great exhibition of  the sculptures “Works from Dawson Street and Walton Avenue’ on now at the Alexander and Bonin gallery in Chelsea – don’t miss it – the double dutch girls are the ‘stars’ of the show.

Leaders of the New School

I photographed the group Leaders of the New School in 1989 in my studio. We had artist friends the ‘ThunderJockeys’ paint a crazy backdrop for the shoot.Check out the video clip I made at the studio. The group : Busta Rhymes, Cut Monitor Milo, Charlie Brown and Dinco D were from Uniondale Long Island. Next day we went to Uniondale and photographed them at their school.The group went on tour with Public Enemy and Busta Rhymes became famous.