Between the Miro and the Oldenburg, I saw him. Long brown hair, blowing in the breeze. Sunglasses, though it wasn’t really sunny. Denim jacket, though it wasn’t really cold. American-flag-patterned Chuck Taylors, though he was decidedly un-American. Clearly, this man was not just another tourist from Indiana on his inaugural stroll through the new National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden last Saturday.
I confess it wasn’t I who first spotted British rock photographer Mick Rock strolling on the Mall. My roommate Marc has an eye for fame. On April 8, Marc and I attended the opening of Rock’s exhibit at Georgetown’s Govinda Gallery, which had been subtly transformed into a mini-Studio 54: women poured into dress-shaped latex, cheap plastic glasses of wine downed two or three at a time, everyone seeing and being seen. I might have imagined Liza Minnelli and Andy Warhol could burst in at any moment, had I not been preoccupied with my illegal parking job on 34th Street.
Watching the attendees admire Rock’s photos of Blondie, Dylan, Queen, and the Stones, I didn’t recognize a soul, save Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, representing D.C. in his requisite uniform of skater shorts, Vans, and a hooded sweatshirt. We all know that D.C. doesn’t do glam. Everyone else was clearly imported from New York.
That’s when Marc pointed him out.
Surrounded by anxious hangers-on, he stood out like a Union Jack in a sea of Stars and Stripes: Mick Rock, legendary rock photographer. At that point, Marc and I made our way to the exhibit’s catalogue to confirm that the London-born Michael David Rock is the poster child for self-fulfilling prophecy: The man has photographed everyone in rock music, including album covers that launched a thousand chart-toppers.
So when I had the chance to be photographed by Mick Rock on location in the new sculpture garden, I wasn’t going to let a little propriety get in my way. As Rock dutifully considered the illusionistic Lichtenstein house, Marc spoke up: “Mr. Rock!”
Seconds later, the five of us friends were in front of Rock’s camera, being molded into a facial mandala.
“Closer, closer!” he urged, though we were already pretty close.
“Feel it!” he said, clearly enjoying the adoration. I swear I heard, “Work with me, baby,” just as Govinda Gallery owner Chris Murray mentioned that this opportunity would have normally cost us a few thousand dollars. So we have our first album cover. Now we just need to start the band.—Amanda Fazzone