Underground artist illustrates life in the dark
New York Times writer Christine Haughney reveals the work of underground artist Anthony Horton, and I don’t just mean non-mainstream. I mean he actually lived off the old subway lines.
After the flames were extinguished Sunday night, firefighters made the discovery: a body, deep in an abandoned crew room, in a subway tunnel on the F line just north of 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The victim was obviously homeless. Less apparent were his circumstances and history, but it did not take long for those to emerge. Of all the homeless people in the subway, the victim, Anthony Horton, 43, had been among the least faceless.
Mr. Horton found solace in the blackness of the tunnels. He made the subway the subject of his canvases, the muse for a graphic novel that he co-wrote, and the place he called home for the better part of his adult life, even when he had other places to stay.
When he emerged aboveground, his friends said, he spoke with a rich gravelly voice, he drummed on the tops of mailboxes and improvised songs inspired by the 1970s tunes of Luther Vandross, and when he saw a friend, he would deliver a bear hug that pulsed with warmth.
The book was based on his life underground. He told of a dozen or so rules of thumb, including: Always carry a light. Anything you need can be found in the garbage. Always have more than one spot.
Then there was this: Always have a way out that is different from the way in.
“He was a gentle soul, and I admired him,” said Youme Landowne, who co-wrote the graphic novel, “Pitch Black,” published in 2008. “I wanted him to live a long time.”
Mr. Horton was known to street book vendors near Hunter College, where he struck up conversations about topics like boxing. He was known in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., where he spent part of his childhood in a children’s group home, after his parents abandoned him. He was known by those who befriended him aboveground and tried to help him lead a more normal existence. And he was known by law enforcement authorities; court records show that Mr. Horton had at least 17 arrests and convictions before 2008.
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