Artists Louie “KR One” Gasparro and Chip “Whisper” Wolfson are showing people that graffiti isn’t just a crime committed by kids, but can be a respected art form.
Gasparro, a resident of Long Island, said that he has always been an artist, but that it took him a long time to realize he was one because he always thought an artist was someone like Rembrandt, who painted.
It was as a 10 year old, headed to a Yankee game, that Gasparro first became interested in graffiti. While on the train, he saw “cartoons and cartoony letters” and he soon began to wonder were it came from and who was doing it. He described it as being like watching a comic book from the train.
“At first I thought it was gangs . . . but it didn’t really matter to me who was doing it,” said Gasparro.
In 1977, Gasparro, who grew up in Astoria, began doing his own graffiti art. He said the art form is the reinvention of the alphabet and that it is similar to abstract art.
Gasparro said that, although the subject matter of his pieces varies, he is still “very much about the letters.” He said he draws mascots or cartoon characters to showcase the words he has written.
Forest Hills resident Wolfson started doing graffiti art in 1980. He said that it started from “being a product of my environment and taking a look at the writing on the walls.”
“I get my inspiration basically from everything really,” Wolfson said. This can include other artists, the ideas in his head, things around him, music, people and colors.
Wolfson considers his artwork abstract, although he said its roots are definitely in graffiti. He also described it as a surreal cartoon style and said that psychedelic stuff has also inspired him.
Wolfson and Gasparro, both of whom are also musicians, have exhibited their work in different galleries. On December 3, they will join forces for the exhibition “DOUBLEVISION,” which is being presented by The Queens Courier in the Courier-Mittman Gallery, located at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside.
It will include about 40 pieces and will be on display through February 3.
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, December 3 at 10 p.m. at the gallery.
“It’s [graffiti art] definitely been more accepted as an art form because there’s a whole gallery scene going on around it,” Gasparro said.
Gasparro noted that people are starting to collect this type of art. He also said that it is that “last true original form of art that came out of America and specifically New York City.”