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Superstar Patti Smith Visits Jamaica Plain

The legendary punk rocker, artist and author visited Monumental Cupcakes at JP Art Market to see her "good friend — and for the cupcakes."

Legendary punk rock star, author, and artist Patti Smith appeared last night at for a book signing and exhibition of her photographs. Lines to see the superstar stretched around the block, and the tiny bakery/art gallery was crowded all evening with loving fans.

“You don’t stay home when there’s a visiting dignitary in town,” said Lili Cappello, who lives just around the corner from the JP Art Market. “But she’s a humble person,” added Cappello.  “Like any of us.”

“I bought Radio Ethiopia when I was fourteen,” said Linda, another admirer, who declined to give her last name. “I hitchhiked to New York to see her.”

Looking like she had just come from the Antiques Road Show, Linda proudly displayed a 1979 poster that Smith autographed for her. “I’m so happy,” she said.  “It’s been sitting in my apartment for thirty years.”

There were long queues of people to purchase copies of Smith’s books. For sale were “ Just Kids,” Smith’s memoir, and “ Patti Smith: Land 250,” the companion piece to a Paris exhibition of Smith’s polaroids. 

On sale also was a wall of photographs taken by Smith. Many of the photos appeared to document the international pop star’s travels. There were photographs of Barcelona, Paris, and Portland, Oregon, to name only a few of the places where she has travelled. “Prices,” said impromptu gallery director Anne Stott, a friend of JP Art Market’s owner, Patti Hudson, “range from $350 to $1,000.”

I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Smith and asked her, “What brought you to Jamaica Plain?”  “Any chance to see my friend Patti Hudson,” she replied.  “And for the cupcakes,” she added.

While Smith signed books, a stream of visitors, both young and old, admired the photos, sipped coffee, and munched on Monumental’s trademark cupcakes, including many green ones in honor of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. 

Many of the attendees traded fond memories of Smith.  JP resident Ana Nogueira recalled how she started listening to Smith years ago in her native Brazil.  Nogueira attended Smith’s appearance at the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday night, and was touched by the sincerity and sense of humor that Smith displayed there. The former Rio de Janeiro resident recounted how a young audience member had asked Smith, “They say that you’re the mother of punk?”  “I used to be the queen of punk,” Smith replied.  “Now I’m the mother.”

Though there was a microphone set up, and rumors circulated that Smith might perform, the only music was the sound of Smith's albums, which played in the background. No one appeared to be disappointed however, and the crowd dispersed happily to have had the opportunity to meet a living legend.

"Photos by Patti Smith" will be on display at Monumental Cupcakes at JP Art Market (617-522-1729) during March.  Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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