Larry Darnell Scott Sr., a self-taught Baltimore artist whose mixed-media abstract and expressionist paintings and drawings took their inspiration from urban life as well as rap and jazz, died after suffering a heart attack Wednesday in Charles Village.
The East Baltimore resident was 50.
Born in Columbia, S.C., and raised in Newark, N.J., Mr. Scott was a child when his father brought home pencils, crayons, paint and brushes and introduced him to the world of drawing and painting.
"His line was amazing; very strong and fluid. I think that's why people say my line is so striking. It's what I absorbed from my father," Mr. Scott said in a 2003 interview with the Journal of Urban Youth Culture, which described him as "hip-hop's Picasso."
Paper bags he had carefully cut open and folded outward were his first canvases, and the floor of the family kitchen his easel.
If art played a role in his young life, so did the martial arts, and he rose to become a world karate champion.
He was 8 years old when he began learning the martial art that he would practice for more than 20 years. As a member of the U.S. karate team, he traveled to championship matches throughout North America, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia and Puerto Rico.
"He was undefeated in his tournaments," said his wife of 30 years, the former Desiree Randolph. He was also an accomplished saxophonist.
Mr. Scott was working as a supervisor in a corrugated box company in Newark when he transferred to Baltimore in 1991 to work for another box company.
Mr. Scott quit his box company job in the late 1990s to work full time as a professional artist.
"He's been a player on the American contemporary urban art scene ever since, quenching his thirst for constant innovation with acrylics, oils, collage, inks, watercolors, sand, pebbles, objects, brushes, twigs used as brushes, and anything else he can get his hands on," said a 2005 City Paper profile.
Jeffrey Kent, a Baltimore artist and longtime friend, called Mr. Scott "a deeply profound artist."
"Not many artists can produce quality work continuously like he did," Mr. Kent said. "He could crank out beautiful art about any subject."
Gary Kachadourian, visual arts coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, said Mr. Scott was "one of the best forces in the Baltimore art scene."
"Larry was going to make what he wanted to make, and it always came straight from his soul. He had a good sense of humor and also was gifted with a hard-edged observational personality," Mr. Kachadourian said.
Mr. Scott's one-man show, The Evolution of Depression, opened to critical acclaim two years ago at Mr. Kent's Sub-Basement Artist Studios. He also had major exhibitions at the Craig Flinner Gallery on North Charles Street. In July, a collection of his mixed-media drawings was exhibited at the Touchet Gallery in Fells Point.
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sub-Basement Studios, 118 N. Howard St.
He is also survived by a son, Larry D. Scott Jr. of Baltimore; two daughters, Nichole Scott of Baton Rouge, La., and Angela Scott of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Shawanda Randolph of Charleston, S.C.; his mother, Juliette Archie of Charlotte, N.C.; five brothers, Jerry Lee Scott of Orange, N.J., Donald Scott and Frederick Scott, both of East Orange, N.J., Kendrick Archie of Charlotte, N.C., and Michael Archie of Washington, N.J.; four sisters, Dorothy Hines, Judy Scott and Dawn Cohen, all of Charlotte, and Shawna Beaman of Elizabeth, N.J.; a stepbrother, Walter Scott of Charlottesville, Va.; two stepsisters, Barbara Ann Scott and Pamela Scott, both of Charlottesville; and two grandchildren.