Veteran graffiti artist Nathan “Sloke” Nordstrom has been strengthening Austin’s spray can art scene for decades. His art has taken him around the world painting murals and participating in group art shows. Over the years, he’s become a mentor for a new generation of artists and his commission work includes clients such as Nike and Google.
As a native Austinite, he’s seen the local graffiti culture evolve from the days when he painted on the streets without permission. In recent years, he’s witnessed the city embrace a thriving street art scene, which incorporates methods such as wheat pasting, sticker or stencil art.
Now Nordstrom, who is also known as “Sloke One,” is taking all of his graffiti art experience and translating it to canvas for his first solo exhibition, “Fatcapped.” A selection of his pieces as well as documentary photographs of Nordstrom’s work from the streets are on display at the Austin gallery, Testsite (502 W. 33rd St.) from now through March 27. The gallery is open Sundays from 4-6 p.m. and by appointment.
“This is my way of taking the rawness and energy of the streets and bringing it indoors,” Nordstrom says in the exhibit’s artist statement.
“Fatcapped” was curated by Chale Nafus who says he’s been fascinated by the four elements of hip-hop culture (graffiti, b-boyin’, rapping and deejaying) since 1984. Nafus has seen these elements blossom, die and revive throughout his three decades in Austin.
In the late 1980s, Nafus met one of Nordstrom’s mentors Al “Skam” Martinez, who was part of Austin’s first wave of graffiti writers. In an accompanying essay with the exhibit, Nafus says he met Nordstrom years after Martinez’ 1994 death at a time when Austin’s hip-hop culture was being invigorated by events like hip-hop festival BBoy City.
In Nafus’ essay, Nordstrom explained his graffiti art process and style: “The letters are your name and the style is a reflection of who you are. Some people say, ‘Well don’t you get bored writing your name over and over?’ It’s not about that. It’s stylized typography. And as I change in life and evolve as an artist, so does my style.”