Written on the wall
Graffiti artist Coco 144 reveals his newest work in Bronk
|Electrician Robert Gualtieri’s most important contribution to the recently completed renovation of Bronk’s first floor isn’t in the walls, it’s on them. On Friday, April 4, Mr. Gualtieri, a 20-year employee in Plant Operations, revealed his brightly painted, 8-by-21-foot mural on the south wall of the first-floor hallway. Commissioned by A. James Hudspeth, head of the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, the painting is a colorful, interpretive rendering of Dr. Hudspeth’s research into the science of hearing.
Having painted since he was a teenager, Mr. Gualtieri — known in the art world as Coco 144 — was among the generation of graffiti writers illicitly decorating New York City subway cars in the 1970s. He was a founding member of United Graffiti Artists, an organization formed in 1972 to bring graffiti in from the streets and exhibit it in formal gallery settings. Coco 144 continues his work today, though on admittedly less controversial surfaces. “I spend a lot of time looking at walls,” he says.
Mr. Gualtieri worked on the mural for two months, spending nights and weekends in a two-foot-wide workspace as passersby walked through the hall unaware of the man behind the curtain. The multicolored project required nearly 30 cans of spray paint. “There are so many people to thank, it will soon be like it is when I’m painting — I won’t be able to stop,” Mr. Gualtieri said to a packed hall of viewers at the mural’s unveiling.