Martin Wong, portrait of Baird Jones, 1986. Ink on paper, 8″ x 10″.
Renowned artist Martin Wong was probably as eccentric as Baird. His massive collection of graffiti art, bought on the shoestring wages he earned as a clerk at Pearl Paint, has been acquired by the Museum of the City of New York. His own quasi-outsider art—obsessed with bricks, sign language, and eroticized firemen—was recently subject of an acclaimed retrospective at the Bronx Museum.
In Wong’s portrait drawing, Baird wears an East Village Eye t-shirt, and casually points his camera, ready to take one of his trademark snapshots. Just as Wong’s paintings did with the bricks of Lower East Side walls, his drawing obsessively repeats each stitch of Baird’s coat.