It was a humid evening in Miami on July 21, when visual artist John “JonOne” Perello walked into Wynwood’s Cafeina in an all-white jumpsuit, ready to create another vibrant masterpiece. He approached his glass canvas with brushes in one hand and a Hennessy V.S. cocktail in the other. Once the DJ turned up the volume on Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones,” JonOne shifted into grind mode to work on the final creation of his multi-city tour around the U.S. for the Hennessy V.S. Limited Edition by JonOne bottle.
Over the last three decades, JonOne has become internationally revered as one of the most groundbreaking graffiti artists to come out of New York City. The artist, born to Dominican parents in Harlem, spent the latter part of his teenage years leaving his signature “Jon156” tag in subway trains and buildings all over the city. Rappers who lived in and around the Uptown sector of Manhattan and the Bronx knew about JonOne’s historic contributions, including Fat Joe.
Joey Crack stepped onto the red carpet with coolness in a baby blue V-neck and crispy white kicks. He proceeded to walk into the venue looking forward to watching JonOne craft his new piece of art while celebrating his Limited Edition creation for Hennessy.
“JonOne is a legend man,” Fat Joe told VIBE Viva. “I used to watch him tag graffiti over in Washington Heights back in the days. The fact that he can come back here and work on this project with Hennessy is a beautiful thing. I just had to let him know that I respect him for his contributions to the art form.”
JonOne began his art journey in the ‘80s as a teenager who tagged up buildings with his infamous 156 All Starz collective, which includes him and fellow artists Rac7 and Kyle. Once he relocated to Paris, Jon passed down the collective and spent the last 30 years an international icon, loved by many for his vibrant installations and exhibits featured around the globe.
“My stuff is very colorful, and it brings a smile to everyone’s face when they see it,” JonOne explained to us during an exclusive lunch before the event. “Half of the work, in my head, is doing something very colorful, energetic and joyful. The other half is making it live and having a great time doing it. So it’s all about that and enjoying life.”
The bottle’s design took about 10 days to complete, and features a fruitful mix of his original graffiti born in the subways of NYC and his colorful, yet abstract touch that turns it into a piece of fine art. This summer, JonOne has been on a multi-city tour across the U.S. with Team Hennessy to bring his Limited Edition release to life. He’s the first Latino artist to participate in the seventh installment of Hennessy V.S.’s collaborative series, and mainly listens to classic hip-hop like Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as today’s trap stars, including 21 Savage.
“I’m really open,” he said. “I don’t just listen to hip-hop, but I do listen to hip-hop when I paint. I’m coming from the KRS-One, Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang era. From that generation, right before I came to Paris, Eric B. & Rakim came out and the entire essence of hip-hop changed. Then I went to Europe, and was hearing De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Jungle Brothers.”
As JonOne worked in record time to complete his final piece of art for the tour, the party swelled with special guests, from Miami Heat’s James Johnson to rapper Ace Hood to . With all the star power in the room, JonOne remained focused on completing his opus.
As the black lights illuminated his canvass with neon colors, Jon raised his custom-made bottle in the air, signaling his work of art finished. The crowd roared the instant JonOne put the final touches, while DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem” acted as the perfect theme song to cap the night.