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Making graffiti into art

Local artists continued to blur the line between underground and mainstream art when The Queens Courier opened the “Doublevision” exhibit on Thursday, December 3.

Presented by Victoria Schneps-Yunis at the Courier-Mittman Galley outside the paper’s Bayside office, the art show exhibited the recent works of two Queens natives, Charles “Whisper” Wolfson and Louie “KR.One” Gasparro.

Their dual invasion into the wine and cheese world of art showcased the diversity and originality of two artists on the cutting-edge – a cutting-edge that was fostered growing up surrounded city aesthetics.

“I remember first seeing graffiti art on the train to a Yankees game,” said Gasparro. “It was something I was instantly attracted to.”

Born in Manhattan and raised in Astoria, Gasparro’s inspirations range from Saturday morning cartoons to album and poster art, as well as the ubiquitous rolling art of the city’s subway graffiti.

“What attracted me to it was that it was an underground scene that no one knew about,” he said. “I remember thinking, who did all this and what is it?”

Gasparro’s art started as simplistic signatures, but soon expanded into elaborate projects that took weeks to complete. With canvases of subway cars and building facades, some would consider what Gasparro does to be vandalism, but he feels that stigma will lose its grip with time.

“This art will be held up with the classics in the future because it’s real,” he said. “It came from nothing and now it’s being used by corporations looking for street cred.”

The other half of “Doublevision,” Charles Wolfson, had a similar introduction into the groundbreaking world of graffiti art. The Flushing resident grew up surrounded by the expressions of other neighborhood artists, giving him an unfiltered view of a revolutionary art world.

“I’m a product of my environment,” said Wolfson. “I saw the writing on the wall and I wanted to leave my mark.”

Wolfson took what he learned from the street scene and augmented it with the knowledge of professional artists. He worked as an artist’s apprentice in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and got into the city’s prestigious School of Visual Arts (SVA) even though he never graduated high school.

“I guess I kind of snuck in,” he said. “[College and the apprenticeship] expanded my mind. They helped blurry the lines between graffiti and figurative abstract art.”

Taking the road less traveled in order to nurture their talents is standard procedure for most artists. Using this technique, they find inspiration in the absurd and motivation in the subversive. They use their work to gain a unique perspective on art and life in general.

“Creating, to me, is a celebration of life,” said Gasparro. “I do it because I love it, and you’ve got to love what you do.”

Art is more than a job to these two iconoclastic creators. It is sustenance without which living would be impossible.

“If I don’t draw or paint, I can’t live,” said Wolfson. “It’s part of my diet.”

Since last week’s opening reception, the artists have sold a combined three pieces to private buyers.

“Doublevision” will remain on display until February 3, 2010 in the Courier-Mittman Galley on the second floor of 38-19 Bell Boulevard in Bayside.

 

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