On the 30th Anniversary of his Death, Basquiat Gets Tribute from Al Diaz on Great Jones

Posted on: August 13th, 2018 at 5:03 am by

Yesterday (August 12) marks thirty years since Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at age 27. To help pay tribute to his fallen compatriot, legendary Lower East Side street scrawler Al Diaz imparted this silhouette and message on the facade of his former studio at 57 Great Jones Street (where he was found).

The new artwork is a collaborative effort between Diaz, who co-created the SAMO tag with Basquiat in 1977, and local artist and photographer Adrian Wilson. (This is their second SAMO-related street effort this year.) The silhouette itself is based on a famous photograph of Basquiat painting the Dry Dock pool on East 10th Street, alongside lettering that reads, “I didn’t sign up to be used as a face 4 selling brand named crap!” Plus, “SAMO 4 the continually inspired & eternally inspiring.”

The collaboration is commentary on the abject commercialization of Basquiat and his posthumous legacy. For instance, the May 2017 auction at Sotheby’s of his 1982 skull painting that set a record $110.5 million price at auction.

Basquiat and Diaz coined SAMO as teenagers as shorthand for weed, “The Same Old Shit.” Both wrote suggestive political dichotomies throughout the Lower East Side between 1977 and 1980. Basquiat lived and worked at 57 Great Jones Street for five years, from 1983 until his death in 1988. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation installed a plaque onsite in his honor a couple years ago.

Recent Stories

Teenager Arrested in Connection with Essex Card Shop Fire on Avenue A

A teenager has been arrested in connection with the alarm fire that destroyed the Essex Card Shop at 47 Avenue A last week. EV Grieve first confirmed the news yesterday. Charges against the 13-year-old – whose name was withheld due to his age – include second-degree arson. Officials told the blog that that the arsonist […]

Woman Dies Month After Being Hit by School Bus in Chinatown

A pedestrian struck by a school bus in Chinatown last month has succumbed to her injuries. On December 16, at approximately 1:45pm, 67-year-old Ahhon Lau was struck in the intersection of Monroe and Catherine Streets. When officers arrived at the scene, Lau was found unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS transported her […]

Brooklyn Fare Market Makes it Official at One Manhattan Square

Brooklyn Fare Kitchen & Market officially announced its Lower East Side entrance with banner advertising at One Manhattan Square. The vinyl skins are now in the windows along Cherry Street, advertising free delivery and fresh produce. As previously reported, the upscale grocer signed a lease to occupy 25,500 square-feet across two floors in the base […]

Crab du Jour Goes Down After a Year on Grand Street

Crab du Jour, the ubiquitous franchise selling Cajun-style seafood, closed its Lower East Side location earlier this month. The shutter comes exactly one year after the fast-food spot first opened at 384 Grand Street. Several readers alerted us to the closure, noting that the restaurant hasn’t been open the last several days. Moreover, customers can […]

Former Red Square Retail Demolished for New Development

Nearly six years ago, the Dermot Company purchased the former Red Square for $100 million from Michael Rosen. The residential complex was further upscaled in the interim, and whitewashed into submission. The $100 million deal included space in the adjacent one-story retail. What largely went unnoticed at the time, though, is that the Rosen family […]