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Ari Marcopoulos Photo Exhibit

Published November 11, 2009 on ESPN Action Sports

Remember those old black and white photos of The Brooklyn Banks back when The Banks were grimy, dark and covered in graffiti? Photos of Harold Hunter, Quim Cardona, Jeff Pang-basically the OG Zoo York crew? Those photos were taken by Ari Marcopoulos. And, you can check out the first major U.S. retrospective of his work at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, which runs through February 2010.

Last weekend, Ari, Keith Hufnagel, hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy and graffiti artist Barry McGee got together at the museum and talked about what it was like living, skating and taking photos in the streets of New York back in the day. Ari started out taking pictures of New York’s downtown scene in the ’80s-of people like Andy Warhol, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. And, then in the ’90s began dropping by The Banks.

“Ari would hang around The Banks, not shooting actual skateboarding, but the standing around really,” said Hufnagel. “He’d shoot everything but the main trick-it was just the natural look of us skating around the city.” It was the heyday of street skating in New York, when the cops didn’t really care. “Back then, we’d skate 20 to 30 people deep and charge around the city,” said Hufnagel. “You can’t do that now, you’ll get busted.”

Since everybody knew each other then, it made it easy for Ari to document the scene, “When I’d hear skateboard wheels in the street, I would look up ’cause I’d know who it was,” said Ari. If you’re in Berkeley, definitely go check out the show to see those old photos of Keith, Harold, Quim, Justin Pierce, Chris Pastras, Julien Stranger and so many other New York greats.

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