In our November/December 2016 issue, reviewer Lolly Robinson spoke with author/illustrator Javaka Steptoe about his personal connection to the subject of new biography Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Read the full starred review.
Lolly Robinson: You and your father, John Steptoe, were both artists in NYC when Basquiat was working. Did either of you ever meet him?
Javaka Steptoe: I am not sure if my father ever met Basquiat. My mother, on the other hand, ran into him once in Soho as he stepped out of a restaurant to smoke a cigarette. They had a brief moment of acknowledgment before he was swept off by friends, sort of like the ending to the Slick Rick song “Mona Lisa.”
I never met Basquiat in person, but I felt as if I had as I roamed around the Lower East Side and Soho neighborhoods as a young man and saw remnants of his days as SAMO, his art at the June Kelly Gallery, and posters of his and Andy Warhol’s boxing match plastered to walls. I also spent a lot of time getting to know his work at the Brooklyn Museum.