Verso Episode 2: Al Diaz on his friend, Jean

Y’all, Our Friend, Jean opens in Nashville today.

Tennessee State University will host Our Friend, Jean, from November 9th to November 16th, 2022, in the Hiram Van Gordon Gallery (reception and curator conversation Thursday, November 10 at 4 P.M.). Our Friend, Jean is a sampling of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s earliest works on loan from several collectors featuring drawings, writings, apparel, mixed media collages, and ephemera. The TSU stop is the latest on the exhibition’s tour of HBCU galleries.

I chatted with Al Diaz just prior to the exhibition’s opening. Diaz and Basquiat became friends in high school and became legends when their “SAMO@” campaign helped to push NYC graffiti off the streets and into the 1980s art gallery boom. Diaz talks about growing-up with Jean-Michel and collaborating on their high school newspaper; he explains the poetic/literary concepts behind SAMO@; and he gives Number followers a sneak peek at City of Kings: A History of New York City Graffiti. The Al Diaz-curated exhibition opens on November 19 at Howl! Happening in NYC.

Big thanks to Mr. Diaz for sharing his one-of-a-kind insights with Number.
Follow @albert_diaz1 on Instagram to keep up with Al and his upcoming projects.
Follow @mightyjoenolan to keep up with my art, music and writing.