- Nancy Flores American-Statesman Staff
His graffiti has breathed life into Austin streets for more than 20 years. It’s been featured throughout Europe, in documentaries and group exhibits. But after helping shape the local graffiti scene, native Austinite Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom has found another way to push the boundaries of the art form.
With his first large-scale solo show opening Feb. 4 at the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Nordstrom paves the way for local graffiti artists to move from the streets to the galleries.
“I think (the exhibit) can show emerging graffiti writers that if you continue to practice and develop your skills that it isn’t just limited to the streets, trains or rooftops,” he says. “Graffiti-inspired art can and does have a place in galleries.”
The exhibit “Another Side: Selected Works by Nathan Nordstrom AKA Sloke One” will feature photographs of his graffiti from the U.S. and abroad, graffiti pieces on canvas and graffiti-inspired abstract art, which will all be available for sale.
About five years ago, Nordstrom began feeding his curiosity for abstract art by creating pieces on canvas using his creative weapon of choice — spray paint.
“Much like creating a graffiti piece, once you start it begins to evolve,” he says. The biggest difference? The freedom. Nordstrom, who also mentors young graffiti artists, says graffiti comes with general guidelines. He paints his name and keeps the color inside the outline of each letter.
His abstract style marries his masterful graffiti skills and signature bold colors with a more free-flowing feel filled with movement. He’s including more than 30 pieces in the show, which range from loud and colorful to somber and introspective.
Fans of Nordstrom’s artwork will notice that his abstract pieces give more insight into the artist’s multifaceted personality than any of his other work, which is why he titled the upcoming show “Another Side.” While he tries to keep his personal life away from public walls, the abstract canvas pieces “are a reflection of who I am, what I feel and think — a glimpse into the heart.”
While people often see his intense and serious side, he says, “I’m also silly, complicated, playful, childish.”
Nordstrom sees his passion for abstract art as another step in his evolution as an artist. “I always try to stay curious,” he says. “There’s so much to learn and, who knows, maybe this will lead to another type of artlike sculpture.”
But Nordstrom isn’t abandoning his graffiti mural work anytime soon. In 2016 alone, he painted 108 pieces and continues to co-curate the graffiti art show “Emerge,” which features the four elements of hip-hop culture — graffiti, DJs, break dancers and MCs.
“Graffiti is my foundation,” Nordstrom says. “It’s where it all started. Graffiti art was a catalyst to other art forms for me and a launching pad into a career in art, which I never imagined.”