electric city interveiw o7.o6.o6
Growing up watching his architect father work and taking family trips through South Philadelphia's gallery district, Jonathan "Skip" Slingluff had always dabbled with painting. But it wasn't until his apartment became overrun with completed canvases five or six years ago that he seriously began to show and sell his work. After moving from rural Chester County to Lake Wallenpaupack in time for high school, he migrated from Scranton to New England to Philadelphia and Stroudsburg before returning to Scranton two years ago. He's continued to utilize gallery connections made elsewhere in the state while enjoying shows locally at Test Pattern and at The Bog. A new exhibit of his work opened last weekend at Main Street Jukebox in Stroudsburg. Contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
e.c. Do you still have a day job?
j.k.s. Yeah, I take these half-assed jobs, so if I do have a big show coming up in a month or something I can leave and paint. Right now I vacuum floors. I start at six in the morning and I work until 10 in the morning. If I didn't work, I would still be groggy at 10. Now I'm wide awake, so I can paint for a few hours and feel like I actually did something for the day. And it's a paycheck.
e.c. So you build your life around the art?
j.k.s. I like to think so. Art is the last frontier in a way. It's the only thing that's being touched by hands anymore. No one has the time or the energy, or if they do, the know-how or the concern to make things by hand. Everyone likes to proclaim that they're an artist, but I made a conscious effort to incorporate it into my life on some level. I paint childhood memories. It's all I've been working on since I started showing full time.
e.c. Do you keep uncovering new memories?
j.k.s. I don't remember anything really. All of our photo albums are lost over the years and I guess that's when I started really getting trying to remember.
e.c. No pictures of little Jonathan sitting around?
j.k.s. I have one in the studio of me and my brother. I was a little shorter than I am now. When father passed away, we went into his closet and there were two photo albums that I guess his sister made. One said "For Jonathan" and one said "For Craig."
e.c. Was that creepy?
j.k.s. It was kind of weird, yeah. Dad never talked about it and his sister passed away when we were very little, so from age eight to 24, there's nothing. No toys laying around that I used to play with or anything like that. And I think that's why I started focusing on painting my memories. And that's why, in the landscape paintings that I do, the colors are off or the cornfield is really bold where it wouldn't be in the winter. It would be very simple and almost non-seeable, in a way. There's a silo across the street from where we lived so that's where those come from. I had a show in Philly a month a go and we took a drive out there afterward and it's kind of the same, which is neat. It wasn't like, oh I remember this oak tree was here and now there's a Wal-Mart there instead.
e.c. Like in Grosse Point Blank where he goes home and it's a convenient store.
j.k.s. That's today's Americana and it's not that I'm against it, it's progression. Unfortunately, we can't keep up with urban sprawl and farmers are sitting on their plots of land like, "Man, last year I pulled in $20,000 and paid $30,000 in taxes and I just had this developer offer me $4 million for this kind of worthless plot of land. All right, I guess I'll go for it." And can you blame them? No. And in the same sense, who are we to really judge that. We go to Borders or Wal-Mart. I went to Wal-Mart back in September and it was the first time I'd been there in four or five years. And it felt weird but you have to go from time to time. Either that or you'll go to a CVS or Walgreen's. It's convenient. That's what killed the old Americana that we grew up with
e.c. Are you going to stick with the childhood memories?
j.k.s. I really enjoy doing them and I get a pretty decent response. I had a show in East Stroudsburg a while back and a girl who worked in the coffee shop overheard someone looking at an ocean I did. He said, "I see God in it." Weird comments like that are really fun. And the angry comments are really fun, too.
e.c. Like what?
j.k.s. I had some guy come up to me, he didn't know I was the guy who did the paintings, and he was like, "My granddaughter who's 3 can do those." And I'm like, "That's fantastic! That's my work, and if you can have her start producing some work and not sign it, I'll buy them off you. And if you do that for a few years, there's college tuition for her." This is fantastic. I can pull an Andy Warhol. Why not? Why wouldn't I? A lot of people have assistants that put a base color down or help stretch their canvas so why not take it to the next level. You know, I'll just sign my name to it. I would love it.
e.c. That's really funny.
j.k.s. Where most people get hurt by these comments, you just have to laugh. I'm sure if I walked into their house I wouldn't enjoy the print of "Starry Night" they picked up at Deck The Walls hanging above their sofa. I wouldn't really care for that. I noticed someone's shoes on my drive in here. I really hated them, but it's not like I was going to pull over and be like, "Hey buddy, what the hell is going on with your shoes? They really suck." But you hear that at art openings. People feel like that's where they can get away with saying stuff. Or they ask crazy questions like, "What size brush do you use?" It's like, "What are you talking about, man? Like, really? Do you want to come over and we'll drink coffee and you can watch me paint?" It will be like Bob Ross hour in my studio.
.c. That would be a fun public-access show.
j.k.s. Yeah, I'll just come in and paint. I'll put my iPod on and hang out and paint like I'm in my studio and get into this groove and forget that anyone's there.
e.c. We could go to a different person's space each time.
j.k.s. Would they come to my space? That would be really neat. And you could do the same with bands and go to their rehearsal space. Or you could follow one of the homeless people in town around and see what they do for the course of a day. One night I was out taking photos in town and I went to Farley's and was photographing the bottles that they have with the lights behind it and I was walking back to my car and there are these two well-dressed women digging into a garbage can. And I'm like, "That's really interesting." So I photographed them and then I followed them. And they were hitting every can on the street.
e.c. Did they notice you?
j.k.s. No. I have this thing called a "sneaky spy lens." So I was following them a couple of yards behind, taking pictures of them going into different trash cans. It was kind of sad. I don't really know what they're looking for but they were really well-dressed and they hopped into this Benz or some expensive car and drove away. I think they were sisters. Maybe they were just looking for something fun to do. They're like "Well, we don't drink anymore. It's 10 o'clock on a Sunday night, what else do we do?"
e.c. I'd love to see those pictures.
j.k.s. Oh, definitely. You can come over to my studio when they're filming reality week with Skip.
e.c. Where did the nickname Skip come from?
j.k.s. There's this professional skateboarder that lived down the street from us outside Philly and his name was Skip Winter, and when I moved to the Lake, I used to brag about him all the time. You know, you pick up Thrasher skateboard magazine or something like that and there'd be photos of him and interviews.
e.c. And you're like, "I used to live down the street from him."
j.k.s. Oh, yeah, I used to say it all the time. And my friend Rich was just like, "OK Skip, OK. Enough." And it just kind of stuck from there. In my 20s I was like, "No, Jonathan. Jonathan." Now that I'm a little older, I don't really care. "All right, call me Skip."