Hit by Train, Artist Explores Innermost Pain 

For his latest art exhibition, Larry Lorca took inspiration from a near tragedy. In September the local street artist had a run-in with a freight train. An avid train hopper, he was attempting to catch one from Lynchburg back to Richmond when he got "hemmed up" underneath a train car and dragged.

The accident left his left leg flayed open, requiring a skin graft. "Lucky" is what he now calls himself, having walked away from the accident with a minimum of muscle loss and nerve damage. But there were more surprising results: In the immediate aftermath, amid a pain-killer induced haze, Lorca's thoughts turned to carousels.

Six months later, the fruits of his artistic labors are on display through May at Steady Sounds, a downtown record shop at 322 W. Broad St.

Larry Lorca is a pseudonym and portmanteau name from two other artists: the late Virginia Commonwealth University professor and poet Larry Levis and Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. Since 2001, Lorca has been illegally posting his small, painted canvas boards on traffic signs around Richmond. His new indoor exhibit features paintings of carousels, or to be more specific, the animals that often serve as seating for the riders of carousels.

The paintings represent different stages of his coming to grips with the accident, Lorca says. The first sketches, drawn while convalescing during his 41-day stay in the hospital, seem now to represent relief, he says.

"Carousel animals are just pure, unadulterated fun," he says. "If anything, they were about me thinking: 'I survived this whole calamity. This is awesome.'"

Later pieces ostensibly are about confronting discomforting questions about the accident. "It was sort of a way to give a voice to all of those displaced things that are somewhat difficult to talk about," he says. For example, he titles a painting of a tiger in profile "What Part of Me Wanted This to Happen?"

What the animals represent beyond that is still something Lorca says he's trying to work out. But it's a theme that he foresees remaining part of his work for the immediate future. "I don't think they're done with me yet, or me with them," he says, somewhat cryptically. "I think they need to be in other places."

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