Original photographer:
Paul Fusco
Paul Fusco

Bill Ganzel


Paul Shapiro – "Cities: Boston"

Paul Shapiro

Paul Shapiro with a body-painted model, an activity done for the photographer. Boston MA, June, 1968, photo by Paul Fusco.

Paul Shapiro in the "Paul Shapiro Room" of GF Contemporary Gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, December 2012.

In June, 1968, LOOK devoted their entire edition to life in urban America. Paul Shapiro was an artist and musician living in Boston with his first wife and two children. He was ambivalent about urban living. On the one hand, "You can do your own thing in the city, without being bothered," Shapiro said. But on the other hand, he told producer Ira Mothner, "The city has ripped down all the studios and lofts. [Cops have it in for] "people like me, … parks are for perverts, [and] public schools would destroy my children."

In Boston, Shapiro made a living teaching part-time at a small art school. He fed his soul by "whanging guitar with a rock group and painting." His group, the Hallucinations, almost made it big, and one member went on to play in the J. Geils Band. The LOOK article actually started as an article about the Hallucinations, but when that story went by the wayside, photographer Paul Fusco asked if he would be willing to appear as an artist in the urban special issue.

"I had my 15-minutes of fame in the 60s right there," he laughs now. "It was embarrassing." Shapiro says Mothner and Fusco wanted to present him as a hippie. "They presented this picture of me that was not quite real." This was the first time he had painted a model and didn't feel like a hippie. "I don't know what this word means," he says. But he felt like he was part of the counterculture. "No one wanted to live boring lives, and live in the suburbs, and play golf. If you didn't identify with that, you identified with the counterculture."

In the '70s the family moved to New Hampshire. The marriage came apart and Shapiro moved to Santa Fe. He has built a solid, if up-and-down, career as a painter. He still plays guitar and harmonica, and periodically puts a band together .