Patti Smith

American Artist

Written By: Frank Stefanko
"There I was sitting in a booth at the co-op of Glassboro State College, a bucolic school in the farmlands of South Jersey. . . Suddenly, the double doors of the co-op swung open and standing there in the vacuum created was an incredible apparition, a vision in a white leather coat with long, jet-black hair flowing down her back. She moseyed in like the bad guy walking into a saloon in an old western movie. This was the first time I set eyes on Patti Smith, and I was captivated.”

So begins Frank Stefanko’s wonderfully personal photographic tale of his friendship and artistic collaboration with Patti Smith. Stefanko’s photographs and his warm, personal recollections show us an amazing young woman, long before she became Patti Smith, the cultural icon. Through images and words, we follow her search for a unique voice—from the early days of the Chelsea Hotel to spoken word at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project to the release of her seminal album, Horses, and so much more.

These photographs, along with the Stefanko’s first-hand account, capture an incredible era from the mid-1960s to the late- 1970s when a whole new genre of music and art was being born. Prior to the release of this collection, many of these stunning portraits had never before been published. They appear here in high-quality quadratone reproduction, highlighting Stefanko’s artistry and his uncanny ability to capture his subject’s inner spirit. Memorabilia from Smith’s personal collection adds to this rare and intimate look at the emergence of one of America’s most respected artists.

With an opening poem from Patti Smith that sets an evocative mood, an introduction by Lenny Kaye, Smith’s longtime guitarist, and a compelling afterword by editor Chris Murray, this book sets the reader on a journey from small-town New Jersey and highlights the enigmatic artist’s triumphant career.
Format: Softbound
Publication Date: 6/20/2017
ISBN: 9781683830153
Pages: 164
Trim Size: 6.5 x 8.667 x .6

  • About the Author 
  • Press
Frank Stefanko, Photographer: Frank Stefanko is a fine-art photographer whose work graces the album covers of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River as well as the cover of Southside Johnny’s Hearts of Stone album. Frank’s photographs also appear on Bruce Springsteen’s albums Live 75/85, Greatest Hits, Tracks, and The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Mr. Stefanko is the author of the books Days of Hopes and Dreams/an Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen published by Billboard Book’s division of Watson-Guptill, and Patti Smith, American Artist, published by Insight Editions. Frank’s work also appears in Bruce Springsteen’s book Songs, Patti Smith’s book Complete, and Dave Marsh’s book Born to Run.

In addition, five of Mr. Stefanko’s Springsteen photographs are exhibited in the traveling museum show titled Bruce Springsteen, Troubadour of the Highway. The show has had unprecedented attendance at The Frederick Weisman Museum in Minneapolis, The Cranbrook Museum near Detroit, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey.

Frank’s portfolio includes vintage and contemporary photographs of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith, as well as other rock artists from the sixties and seventies including The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Bette Midler, Johnny Winters, and more. Most of Frank’s work is still done in black and white silver gelatin fine art prints.

Living in New Jersey, Mr. Stefanko has been making photographs for over fifty years. Self-taught as a boy, Frank excelled in art and photography in high school and college.