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Tattoo artist Carl Lowther, known to many in Allentown and around the country by his artist name Brooklyn Payne, died suddenly June 11 of an aneurysm in his leg. He was 41. In his honor and to raise money for his family, a memorial concert and show of his work will be held 6 p.m.-midnight Sunday at Club Gravity at Chicago Restaurant.
"He was an amazing man, an amazing person," says Adlib (Adam Viola), a Lehigh Valley hip-hop artist and friend the family who is helping to organize the memorial and will perform.
Payne was born in Brooklyn but had a rough beginning, living in numerous foster homes. He moved to Allentown when he was 16.
He was self-taught as an artist from a young age and eventually found his calling in the tattoo artistry. His start in the industry came when he had an apprenticeship with local tattoo artist Larry Yerkes.
In 2003 Payne opened his own store called Sinner City on Tilghman Street in Allentown. The store remained open until 2007, when Payne began focusing more on touring his artwork to conventions around the country.
When he was 38, Payne moved to Los Angeles to be a part of its vibrant tattoo community, but continued to make stops in the Lehigh Valley, as well as making frequent trips to Staten Island, N.Y., to work at Ink Couture. He has tattooed celebrities such as Vanilla Ice, Bizarre from D12, King Gordy from 8 Mile, hip-hop artist and actor Slaine, and hip-hop artist Danny Diablo.
"He lived for it. He was a workaholic for it," Payne's wife Marybeth says.
Adlib, who has more than a dozen of Payne's works inked on his body, says it is the realism of his tattoos that make them so good. Payne tattooed an image of Viola's father onto his arm, which he says after 10 years still looks exactly like the photograph. His skill and positive personality are what made him well respected in the artist community, Adlib says.
"His color portraits were on another level," Viola says. "They just looked on the skin... amazing."
Scheduled to perform at the memorial show are Canadian rapper Madchild, New York hip-hop/hard core rapper Danny Diablo, J.O. The Last Man, DJ Merc and hip-hop artist and Payne's tattoo apprentice Split Divo.
The show is hosted by Battle Axe, a collective of artists to which Payne belonged that focuses on charity and community involvement. Started by Madchild, it has now grown to include almost 5,000 artists across North America and Europe.
The benefit also will include an art show, with pieces by Payne and other artists, some up for sale in a silent auction. Artists include Amy Nicoletto from LA Ink; Mark Mathews, a partner of Payne's and artist from season two of "Ink Masters" on Spike TV, Split Divo and Larry Yerkes.
Marybeth says that she is proud of Battle Axe for putting this together and caring so much for her husband. Previous benefits for the family, which includes Payne's 14-year-old daughter Rayley and 9-year-old son Aiden, have been hosted in Los Angles and Vancouver, Canada.
"We're looking forward to being able to come together and show how much his art meant to everybody," Adlib says.
BROOKLYN PAYNE MEMORIAL SHOW
• What: A memorial concert, arts show and benefit for the family of tattoo artist Brooklyn Payne.
• When: 6 p.m.-midnight Aug. 28
• Where: Club Gravity at Chicago Restaurant 1179 Airport Road, Allentown
• How much: $25