This past Saturday, March 4, the good folks at Okay Space and the Black Swan Projekt introduced an exhilarating exhibit from legendary MC (and one of the forefathers of gangsta rap) Schoolly D and celebrated artist Pablo Power.
The work, which was entitled Philly vs. New York: A Declaration of Co-Independence, is still going on as we speak (check it out!) and consists of individual works from each artist. Show in a collaborative light and presented in 12″ square format, Philly vs. New York references Schoolly D’s artwork from some of his most iconic album covers, while Pablo shows off an equally illustrative style all his own.
As both artists showcase their strengths, we here at Okayplayer decided to speak to them about how this idea follows up to their 2013 exhibition, Am I Black Enough?, how they themselves linked up and how #BlackLivesMatter and President Agent Orange affect the Arts.
Okay Space & Black Swan Projekt present
Pablo & Schoolly D: Philly VS New York: A Declaration of Co-Independence
March 4th to April 01, 2017 – www.okay.space for gallery hours and sales info
Okayplayer: How did the idea behind ‘Philly vs. New York’ go from concept to actuality?
Schoolly D: I have always had a New York / Philly relationship from 1985 while recording the Schoolly D Yellow Album. I recorded [that] in Philly and in New York in the Latin Quarters and The After Midnight in Philadelphia, which was used in iconic films like King of New York and Bad Lieutenant. So, when I met Pablo [Power], he convinced me to start painting again and that got my thoughts racing on the idea of us putting shows together. We had a slight misstep here and there because of our schedules, but when Andrew came a knocking, we answered the door.
Pablo Power: I met Schoolly D in early 2013 at a performance he was doing in Asbury Park. Shortly after, we began talking about doing a collaboration of some sort. An exhibition seemed like a logical first step. Since junior high, Schoolly D has been a huge inspiration to me through his music and the little bit of his artwork that I had seen on his album covers. I was inspired from our introduction to revisit his visual art. The concept for our first show became hero worship turning into inspiration and collaboration. The possibility of our fans becoming collaborators with their demigods and finding common ground where that creativity could occur. We had less than two months between conception and opening day to produce that show, but what did come out of it was amazing. That began the conversation, friendship and collaboration that has flourished into our current exhibition at Okay Space, which is a massive step beyond our last show.
OKP: How has the relationship between Philly and New York rap grown since you first came into the game?
SD: I kind of live in the world of Schoolly D, so I can only speak for myself (as some rappers from Philly really don’t like New York rappers for some reason). My relationship with the New York rap scene has been the same since day one, fucking cool. By the way, I don’t consider this a game, to me, it is a lifestyle.
OKP: What were some things about art that you learned while growing up that weren’t being taught at Parsons School of Design?