by Peter Aaron
We’ve featured Laura Levine in Chronogram several times. Besides being the owner/operator/curator of Phoenicia’s junk shop divine, Mystery Spot Antiques, and an illustrator with a distinctly “outsider” palette, Levine was one of the leading music photographers from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. And recently one of her most iconic images, this 1981 shot of Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth and DJ Grandmaster Flash, was officially acquired by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection and upcoming display.
“This was the first time that Tina and Flash had met,” says Levine about the photograph, which was originally taken for the cover of the now-defunct NY Rocker and was recently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. “Some wonderful (and important) musical collaborations came out of this meeting, as they later incorporated each other’s music in subsequent recordings.”
This is the second of Levine’s photos to have been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery; the first, a portrait of seminal DJ Afrika Bambaataa, was inducted last year. “Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present,” a major museum exhibition that includes many of Levine’s pictures, originated at the Brooklyn Museum and is currently finishing its three-year, nine-city run at the Auckland Art Museum in New Zealand.