Times have certainly changed for iconic photographer Mick Rock. The “Man Who Shot the '70s” (and way beyond) followed artists such as Queen, Iggy Pop and David Bowie on tour, shooting them anywhere, anytime, and indulging in the same lifestyle as his subjects. He built up an incredible and revered body of work. These days, however, he prefers to shoot portraits and not shows, likes to get his sleep, and his mood enhancer of choice is a good cup of coffee. But he's still in demand by some of today's hottest pop stars.
On Oct. 20 and 21, The Jewelry Studio in Plainview will host Rock's first commercial exhibition on Long Island, and it combines his photos with wearable art. While he has been approached many times about working with jewelry, this is the first time the stars aligned. His collaboration with The Jewelry Studio founder and artist Robert Pepkin has yielded wearable, limited edition guitar picks. “Mick’s photos are laser etched onto sterling silver, then several frames have been created to hold them,” explains Pepkin of his process. “Some are simple sterling designs, others are 14k gold embellished with either black or white diamonds. You can choose any of Mick’s pics and convert them into wearable art.”
The fine art prints on display — 21 in the gallery, 25 more on the website — will include famous album covers such as Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and Lou Reed's "Transformer," along with shots of music icons including Queen, Debbie Harry and Ozzy Osbourne, the latter of which does not always get exhibited. Rock will also give “little lectures with slideshows” at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 and 2 p.m. Oct. 21, each followed by two-hour public photo viewings. (If you want to learn more about Rock, check out "Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock," a documentary about his life — and near death experience — on Netflix.)
Embraced by a new generation of performers, Rock, who has lived in New York City for the past 35 years, has enjoyed working with Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae and Lana Del Rey over the past decade. He has always prepped for his sessions by doing yoga beforehand. “It zens me down and opens me to being in the present,” he says. “I'm not always looking at people through an old prism, I'm seeing them as I sense them in the here and now. That's the way it's always been for me, that emptying-out process, so when I go into the session, then I can fill myself up with the person that I'm photographing.”
Although Rock, 70, can certainly live off the royalties from his books and print sales, he still loves to shoot. “I like the relationship between myself and the subject,” he says. “That's something that I've always enjoyed.”
He is also thankful he still has relevance in the ever-changing landscape of rock and pop music. “I remember some of those famous party pictures of mine from the '70s and early '80s. I might have been the only photographer there. Mine were the best pictures but mine were also the only pictures. Nowadays everybody's taking them. Listen, I'm happy to still be standing and being able to take pictures. I spend a lot more time doing exhibitions and books and even interviews. I mean, who wanted to interview a rock 'n' roll photographer back in the '70s?”
WHEN | WHERE 7-10 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday, The Jewelry Studio of Plainview, 1107 Old Country Rd.
INFO Free; 516-933-4166, jewelrystudioplainview.com