ON THE LAM
When I was 16 I was a resident drug dealer at Club Area. I don’t celebrate this period in my life but the reality is young African Americans and Hispanics from the LES of NYC only had 5 choices: Drug Dealer, Priest, Emcee, Athlete or Blue Collar Job. My good friend Chris would tell me everyday you and Basquiat are both hustlers and you two should meet. I would blow it off because at the time all I cared about was money, girls and Nikes. I’ll never forget the day I finally met him I had just returned home after running away for 6 months and I net to reconcile with my parents at a restaurant called ‘Caramba’ on Great Jones and Broadway. As I left the restaurant Jean was on his bike and Chris who lived with him was walking down Broadway. He introduced us and we talked for a minute but later that night we hung out at his loft (Andy Warhol’s old space) on Great Jones. After we ran out of cocaine I made my way upstairs where I viewed stacks of paintings that were everywhere. The On The Lam series was directly inspired and influenced by Basquiat. 20 year ago is 1998 ten years after his death I was on the run from some local drug dealers and headed to Costa Rica. After running out of money in Costa Rica and taking a stake in the island drug trade I was told by the Italian Mafioso (who befriended me) that I should get off the island ASAP because the local authorities were coming to arrest me. I headed to LA with $20 in my pocket and left my bags at the airport locker taking the bus into the city. I was homeless and all I could afford was sketch paper, graphite, oil stick and dry pastels. This was my first concentrated series titled: ‘On The Lam’ which saved my life and gave my life purpose. I thank Basquiat for showing me by example a way our out of the ghetto on my mind and saving my life. I never dealt drugs again.