John Lloyd's paintings, on view at the Mulberry Street Library through December 31st, are a breath of fresh air. When you walk into the branch, you are immediately taken by Lloyd's colorfully cheerful landscapes of New York City neighborhoods. Sans traffic, litter, anxiety, and all the other things one comes to expect from a New York City landscape, Lloyd breathes peace into his canvases, artfully conveying the solace that urban parks can bring to its oft beleagered residents.
Arriving by Ferry BoatAlmost a flipside to his gauzy watercolors is his interest in Creative and Symbolic geometry. Lloyd has frequently taught this medium to artists at the New York Open Center, and very generously offered a class at the Mulberry Street Library in November. I spoke with John about his art:
How long have you been painting pictures?
For at least 30 years, drawing and painting has been a process for me where far back as I can remember I am responding to the world around me and attempting to create the life I want to be living by making images that illustrate it.
What drew you to NYC as a subject?
I have lived in New York City for more than 30 years. When I first moved here the first couple of months were spent looking for work. since I was on a very low budget, I got into the habit of going to a park at the end of a day of job hunting and I would spend my time drawing until it got dark. During this time I explored many of the parks downtown and started to explore the neighborhoods around them. One of the opportunities of living in this city is to continuously discover new characters, architecture and worlds within and over the years to discover subtle nuances within the community. The extraordinary diversity and range of architecture and the stories we learn as we live and work here are an endless source for one's own creative process and expression. Over the years, layers of feelings build into the paintings reflecting what is lost, and the joyful memories of experiences we get to be part of. much of my working life has been spent in front of a computer so for me painting and drawing in the streets and the parks has been a way of finding balance in my life. In my free time I feel a longing to be outside where I can hear the stories about who lived here and what their lives are like, feel the weather and feel connected to the community.
Prospect Ave. in Windsor Terrace
How did your interest in sacred geometry get ignited?
The tradition of creative and symbolic applications of geometry is an abstract language that brings together science, art and spiritual ideas together, these ways of seeing the world had become separated in the modern world but are now having a conversation with each other. I find it wonderful to be part of this, expressing interesting ideas visually through geometry seems to have been part of the story of humans in all cultures as far back as we are able to go. It is an universe language which seems to appear in most cultures to tell the stories of the invisible landscape that shapes our lives, for example what does luck look like? Or a sense of contentment and well being? Can it be expressed as a harmonious proportion expressed by shapes and patterns? Geometric metaphors were incorporated into crafts and architecture to be map or diagrams to illustrate the spiritual beliefs of the culture and to remind everyone of their own connection to a universe full of meaning and purpose.
Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
New York has a long history of encouraging creative expression that responds to the energy of the streets and the people who live here, one example are the artists of the "Ash Can School" who painted unpretentious images that celebrated ordinary life in the city. As we move into the world of the 21st century with more of the population on this planet living in dense urban settings the question of how to make the city a green place that is nurturing and supportive of its inhabitants becomes very real for all of us. Examples of projects like the highline elevated park become fascinating because they seem like a miraculous opportunity to create an inspiring place where nothing like it existed and we can imagine that something similar would be possible almost anywhere.
Why were you interested in showing your work at the NYPL?
Until I turned 30 I moved to a new place almost every year, by the time I was a teenager finding the local library had become the first step to finding a connection a new place. This has continued to be my way for finding answers to any issues I am having to deal with or for finding inspiration in any projects that I am involved in. Even though its possible to find answers in the internet, I don't think there is any substitute for actually being in a physical space that brings together all the best efforts that we have made as humans to find answers and inspiration which make it possible for us to move closer to the potentials that we carry by being born in this world.