A variety of recent and contemporary urban-inspired paintings by local resident John Lorne, aka SlipKid, are on display this month at the Loma Colorado Library.
Lorne was born in the Bronx in 1964. As a teenager, he helped found the Morris Park Crew, a famous group of graffiti painters featured in the 1983 PBS documentary “Style Wars.” In 2012, he published a book, “Morris Park Crew: The Official History.”
Visitors to Lorne’s latest display will find echoes from the last 35 years of graffiti history woven into his work. Lorne stopped painting after losing many friends and fellow painters to the violence of his childhood neighborhood. He picked the brush back up in 2007 and turned his book into a tribute.
Lorne is particularly proud of the painting he did from 1978-80 on official trains in New York City. Images from the trains appear in his book, his spray-paint bottles and in some of his later paintings.
In 2011, Lorne took part in a mural program for urban revitalization in Albuquerque. He later taught a mural class at Warehouse 508 in Albuquerque. He shows young artists how to transform “tagging” and vandalism into a highly-regarded art form.
Lorne does a lot of mentoring and work with community groups to encourage and promote the positive aspects of urban art.
He also meets with municipal leaders and shares how they can save time and money if they cut back graffiti cleanup and invest in public art projects.
Last year, Lorne contributed to a group mural and did a book signing at Art Bazzle in Miami. The website for the annual event describes it as “the world’s premier international art show for modern and contemporary works.”
Lorne’s new focus is on canvas painting. He has a couple of aerosol works at the library, partly in a nod to his past. Most of his paintings hanging at Loma Colorado are watercolors, pastels, charcoal, acrylic and gouache works. The subjects are mostly still life, abstract, surreal and pop.
The paintings reflect several different influences. The streets and buildings of NYC appear in many. Other paintings incorporate local scenes, such as one that shows graffiti cans falling like rain in downtown Albuquerque.
Another painting captures a Japanese woman who chose to live in an insane asylum.
Words and letters appear stylized in several paintings, perhaps attempting to portray in a new light the kind of writing that traditionally appears in graffiti.
One of his award-winning paintings on display shows a moving crew getting out of a graffiti truck and carrying a Van Gogh painting into a home on Madison Avenue. The title is “Who Defines Art?”
A broken brush appears next to a beer bottle in another painting. It symbolizes the frustrations he felt as an alcoholic before he was able to get back into painting.
As a kid, Lorne used to sit in Bronx Park East and watch the trains go by. Every once in a while he would catch a glimpse of a train that carried his graffiti name, SlipKid. One of his paintings on display captures this teenage memory.
The exhibit runs until Feb. 27 and can be viewed during operating hours, except during active programs.