Spike Lee stands as an iconic figure in American culture, leaving an indelible mark across sports, film, and academia. Renowned for his profound commentary on race relations, Lee’s influence extends far and wide. Much like Schatz, Spike, affectionately known as “Spize” or other’s “mother fucker,” possesses a deep understanding of the cultural epicenter of American fine art and film – New York City. Previous exhibitions for both have contributed to the fine art dialogue within the city underscoring their cultural significance.
In October, The Brooklyn Museum unveiled “Spike Lee: Creative Sources,” an exhibition featuring hundreds of personal items that continues to captivate audiences through February 2024.
Lee’s impact on the cultural landscape is evident in his adopted home, where his “Mars Blackmon” character played a pivotal role in the rise of NIKE and the global superstar, Michael Jordan. As Schatz aptly notes, “work begets work,” and Spike’s scene in “She’s Gotta Have It” featuring the iconic Air Jordans marked the beginning of a collaboration with Jordan’s ad agency in 1987-88. Today, no professional basketball game in New York City is complete without Spike Lee’s prominent presence courtside, further emphasizing his style and passion, which have contributed to the NBA’s celebrity recognition.
The convergence of Spike Lee and Howard Schatz in the artistic realm is no coincidence. Whether in a Broadway musical, a feature film, a shoot with professional athletes (Muhammad Ali comes to mind) or the latest performances by internationally acclaimed groups like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or The San Francisco Ballet Company, these endeavors have sought the artistic touch of Howard Schatz.
Schatz’s creative endeavors, spanning a career rooted in medicine and his past 30 years behind the lens, reflect a deep concern for humanity and the environment. Often referred to as the modern-day Avedon, owning a signed work by Howard Schatz is a valuable addition to any collector’s trove. Accessibility and relatability are shared values between Schatz and Lee, making their interactions a source of inspiration for curiosity and creativity in an era where messaging holds immense importance.
This holiday season, consider honoring both masters.
Film Recommendation: Oscar winner, BlackKKKlansman
Photography options: The Howard Schatz collection at GALLERY M.