In 2001 on the way to buy my mom a birthday present, I was running down 14th street and rounded the corner onto Eighth Avenue and ran into Stephen Sprouse so hard I knocked him down onto the pavement. It wasn’t the first time I had seen him and I certainly knew who he was but I was mortified and embarrassed but also excited to have met someone I had admired and who had inspired me for so many years in New York City. I helped him up and he asked my name. I told him and he said I’m Stephen and I laughed and said I know who you are. After a brief hello in his unmistakably husky voice, he wrote Stephen and his number on the back of my business card in signature sharpie graffiti style. That began a year and several month friendship that was one of the most memorable times I’ve experienced since arriving in New York in 1989. Although I was not here for much of Stephen’s ups and down in the early to mid 80’s I was aware of the impact and how much he influenced the downtown fashion and art scene and how innovative his clothing, art and design process was.
Fast forward to 2015 and Elizabeth Moore and I meet Carol McCranie, an art advisor and her husband Javier Magri who had recently purchased a house in Hudson, NY blocks away from our new gallery. In the depths of an otherwise empty dumpster on the day after a snowstorm in New York City Carol rescued an archive of Stephen Sprouses’ brilliant drawings from the mid-70’s to the late 80’s. More than 1500 trademark works categorized inside envelopes including fabric swatches have been beautifully edited by Carol and Javier into a tour de force book published by Damiani. Sprouse’s inspirations, Andy Warhol, Patty Smith, Debbie Harry, Jackie O and his other muses are all here and the book brilliantly captures the effortless cool of Stephen’s magnetic designs and electrifying drawings.
On Saturday, June 6th over 200 people gathered to celebrate the launch of the Damiani/DAP book Stephen Sprouse Xerox/Rock/Art by Carol McCranie and Javier Magri. I carefully tried to re-create a combination of Stephen’s last apartment, studio and his infamous silver shop on Wooster Street. Black lights are a little tougher to come by these days but I was able to get 20 of them and black out the windows from the exterior to capture the intensity of the clothing collaborations he did with Andy Warhol and the day-glo ink used in two of his iconic paintings. “Gold Andy” the largest work he did of Andy Warhol depicts Andy as the president on a dollar bill with multiples surrounding the main image on silkscreened clear mylar with day-glo orange hair and a gold metallic face. Another Sprouse work was given as Christmas presents in 1988 when he did a second collaboration with Absolut Vodka. Stephen created small works 15″ square of his iconic rocker in pink and yellow day-glo ink on a black ground.
Elizabeth and I also featured works by Julian Schnabel, Keith Harings last editioned prints from 1989 and a Karl Wirsum work as well as furniture and lighting by Massimo Vignelli for Knoll and Mario Botta to capture the mood and feeling of Stephen’s aesthetic. Stephen Sprouse Xerox/Rock/Art and 80’s design through July 4th weekend at The Gilded Owl.
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