Magnum Foundation

Magnum Foundation

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A West Harlem Barbershop Thrives Amidst the Crush of Gentrification

Text and photos by Fahrinisa Oswald
(Follow her Instagram: Fahriphotography / Twitter: @fahrinisa)

Steven Lawrence Travieso, 26, is one of six men who rents a chair at Don Niko’s Barbershop on 149th street and Broadway in West Harlem. The owner, Javier Bayone, 41, rents out each chair on a weekly basis for $200, and it is up to the individual barber how hard he wants to work. A haircut costs $15, a shave $10. Together, the Don Niko Combo is $20.

Travieso is a trained fashion photographer—having studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology—but after experiencing the competitiveness of the New York City fashion world, he decided to try his hand at something different. He has worked for many years as a tattoo artist - his body is covered in tattoos, each a memory attached to a story.  

The shop opened over a year ago, and is named in honor of Javier Bayone’s maternal grandfather, Don Niko. Business is booming despite numerous other shops in the area. His clients, like the changing neighborhood, are a mix of economic, social, and ethnic demographics.

Magnum Foundation produced an installation of Matt Black’s The Geography of Poverty on 110th Street as a part of The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet, which is on view until April 3, 2016 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Inspired by the installation in the neighborhood where they go to school, Nina Berman’s students at the Columbia Journalism School looked locally at economic disparity in upper Manhattan.