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Javaka Steptoe on Radiant Child

steptoe_radiant-childIn 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.

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Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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