​“Tribute to TWO Photographers & Visionaries who helped Capture the Movement”

​This year the Leimert Park Village Book Fair pays tribute to the Golden Age of Hip Hop with a tribute to two photographers and visionaries who helped capture  the evolution of the Hip Hop Movement. 

These honorees will include: 

Ben Caldwell
Joe Conzo 

​Joe Conzo
(Bronx, New York)

Joe Conzo, Jr. (b. 1963) is known for his pioneering work documenting the rise of Hip-Hop culture in the 1970s and 80s. Born and raised in the Bronx, he attended the Agnes Russell School on the campus of Columbia University and continued his formal artistic education at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. During his early development, Conzo bore witness to the volatile state of South Bronx community activism, and to New York’s Puerto Rican cultural music scene. As a teenager and close friend of the Cold Crush Brothers, his work quickly took on an important role during the rise of Hip Hop.

 Conzo’s work—influenced by Bronx photographer Carlos Ortiz, photojournalist and activist Frank Espada, and fellow hip-hop photographer Jamel Shabaaz—has been featured in Henry Chalfant’s documentary From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale  (2006) and Born In The Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop (2007)—a seminal book on Hip-Hop culture with photographs by Conzo and text by noted New York musicologist and curator Johan Kugelberg. In 2008, the entire collection of images featured in the publication became part of a permanent archive housed at Cornell University. They are regarded as an important lens into the roots of Hip-Hop culture, and as an integral source to understanding the history of the movement.

Ben Caldwell
​(Los Angeles, California)

​Film-maker, photographer, community activist and business entrepreneur, Ben Caldwell runs KAOS Network a multimedia training and arts center in Leimert Park, California.  Started in 1990 as a meeting place for creative adults and young adults, his goal today is for kids and adults to learn and use the media technology. He worked with the Brockman Gallery in the 1970s, while a UCLA film student. He and fellow student Charles Burnett, director of “To Sleep with Anger,” would “come to Leimert Park and say “Why don’t we do what we’re doing in the black community, not run from it?”  Figure out what the black community wants, and do.” Ben says.  “It’s important for me to stay here in the community…it helps establish consistency in a community that has a lack of consistency.”  KAOS Network is best known for “Thursday’s Night Project Blowed.”  Project Blowed is a Hip-Hop and Rap open mic that gave birth to such rappers and rap groups such as Aceylone, Medusa, Busdriver, Freestyle Fellowship, and Jurassic Five and continues to provide an atmosphere where new-and-up-coming can hone their skills.