I last saw Dash Snow in a small upstate hamlet called, Cherry Valley, New York where the main attraction is the cemetery. Dash wanted to take a walk to the graveyard to see Candy Darling’s last resting place. She had been buried there just recently although she had been dead for a long long time, she’d been a part of Andy Warhol’s stable of underground movie super stars. I did not want to go to the cemetery that day. I find cemeteries to be lonely places. I had never visited the town cemetery before that day.
As we walked to Candy’s gravesite, I had a sense of foreboding that I couldn’t quite shake. That I couldn’t put my finger on. Somehow I knew that this was going to be the last time I saw him, strange as that may seem. I felt as if this would be the last time I would spend with Dash Snow.
I first met Dash Snow as a 15 year old graffiti artist, a rambunctious spirit, leading a wild unbridled lifestyle on the streets of New York, during this time. He was an adventure. His magical soul was felt by everyone he came into contact with, his generosity was limitless.
When I think of Dash Snow, I remember the ever present mischievous twinkle in his eyes, his laughter, his devilish grin. A random encounter on the street one day could turn into an epic adventure lasting for days on end from day to night beyond the glimmering graffiti filled nights beneath the glittering stars of Manhattan. Those nights that unfolded into days were just the beginning of our short unwinding journey, as New York unfurled it’s streets before us.
I didn’t know all that much about Dash’s smashingly troubled backstory. In New York, everyone has a good backstory, some just have more nuance than others. Some are sprinkled with magic dust. Sace or Sacer was Dash Snow’s graffiti alias. He tagged the city across the five buroughs, the side of railroad trains, and throughout it’s transit tunnels. These adventures made his name.
Shortly after his graffiti reputation had been made, the artist Dan Colen championed Dash’s other works. These were blown up polaroids of mostly debauched nightlife, his assembled constructions and collage works. Dan procured for him a show at a small gallery on the Lower East Side. Dash Snow received a lot of attention for this show from the proper art world propelling him to star status, no longer was he simply a graffiti vandal. During this period, he became an obsession for some, and a curiosity for others. All this occurred really fast and with dizzying effect. Dash’s influence effected everyone around him, it was a whirlwind.
His worldly sophistication contrasted sharply with his downtown bohemianism. His grandmother was Christophe de Menil, who often made the trip downtown to hangout and meet her grandson’s friends. Everyone loved her. She would talk hip talk and use slang words. I remember being surprised once when she referred to something or another as “whack”. We loved her through Dash’s affection for her.
After a time, I believe Dash became disillusioned with fame and success. The whole downtown crew of artists was sitting on top of the art world it seemed because of his notoriety. I think he was happiest being an anonymous graffiti writer. His personal demons were eating away at him. I know not what they were, and I will not speculate here.
I remember the morning the photographer Ryan McGinley called me to inform me of Dash’s death. He died in a hotel near the Bowery of a drug overdose, just like Jean- Michel Basquiat, at the age of 27. I had the pleasure of knowing them both. They were alike in a lot of ways. It seemed they fought the same demons.
I wrote The Ebony Prick of the White Roses Thorn with Dash Snow in mind. I had asked him to illustrate my book of prose with his collages, or whatever he wanted to do. He died before this could happen, sadly.
Throughout his short life he maintained a rugged charismatic charm. His living on the edge inspired me to no end, he was a bad ass plain and simple. He was gentle, although there was nothing gentle about him. Clearly, I hold a romantic view of Dash Snow, his free spirit, his danger. On his death I said a silent prayer and he slipped away without a whisper.