I recently finished my mural tribute to Bad Brains on Bleecker Street & Bowery across from the former CBGB’s which replaced my tribute to Blondie that was up at the same spot since 2017. My friend Glen E. Friedman shot many great photos of Bad Brains at CBGB’s in ’81 and ‘82 and a few of those shots were spliced together as the reference for this mural. Bad Brains are one of my favorite punk/hardcore groups of all time and they are pioneers of the hardcore sound and unique as an all-Black band in an almost exclusively white genre. They play reggae as well as hardcore which helped promote the mind-opening crossover between the genres.
I’ve been a Bad Brains fan for 35-plus years and have been lucky to work with them on a few projects, including prints, a clothing collection, and the cover of their album “Into the Future.” I have done a lot of street art on the Lower East Side and my first solo art show in NYC was at the CBGB’s gallery in 1998, so I have a fond history with the neighborhood. While painting the mural, a lot of great people stopped by including John Joseph of the Cro-Mags, Michael Alago who signed Metallica and worked with the Misfits, photographer Janette Beckman, Buff Monster, WK Interact, Logan Hicks, Bill McMullen, and Eli and Adam from Zoo York! Everyone seemed to have a story relating to Bad Brains.
I try to live the Bad Brains Mantra of P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) and it’s an incredible honor to create art for a band that has provided so much inspiration, energy, and sheer pleasure for me over the years.
Thanks to Glen E. Friedman, as well as Rob Zagula and extra help from Praxis (@praxis_vgz) and Oscar (@osk_osk). Special thanks to Wayne and Rey from Lisa Project NYC for facilitating this mural. They’ve been great partners for several of my mural installations in NYC. They are supported by fundraising, so if you like the Blondie mural I did, you can get a fine art print of the mural with all proceeds supporting future murals through LISA Project. Photos by Rob Zagula (@zagnutz) and Matthew Eller (@elleresqphoto).