On the streets of Hyde Park, Basquiat lives again?

June 20, 2011

I was driving through Hyde Park a few days ago when I saw this bit of graffiti on a piece of plywood at the Metra underpass at 51st Street: Stay Positive +.

That the cheery street scrawl was signed "SAMO2" made me smile a bit. The late NYC artistic phenom Jean-Michel Basquiat and two other friends of his used to secretly spray paint sayings on the sides of Manhattan buildings in the 1970s and 1980s, signing them "SAMO"--pronounced "SAME O." Stuff like, "Life is Confusing at This Point--SAMO", and "SAMO Does Not Cause Cancer in Laboratory Animals.."

Basquiat went on to great, albeit brief, acclaim as an artist, striking up friendships with Andy Warhol and other notables before dying of a drug overdose in 1988 at age 27. More than two decades later, a new SAMO seems to have taken up the call in Hyde Park. Who is behind this, I wonder? A few steps east of the above sign, there was this reminder from SAMO2:

Why, thank you.

AN UPDATE: A purchase agreement has been signed--but the deal has not yet been closed--to sell the endangered Forum hall in Bronzeville to a developer who wants to repair and reuse the dilapidated 112-year-old structure at 43rd and Calumet. The building was profiled in this blog earlier this month. The developer, Bernard Loyd, said he has erected protective scaffolding beneath a section of the building that was shedding bricks. He said he expects the purchase to be completed in a few days.

 

 

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