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Great State: Graffiti Artist

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- It's a big art show that doesn't advertise. You won't see it unless you know where to look, and it can change at a moment's notice on the whim of an artist with a full can of spray paint. "It is bigger," says artist Dusty Gilpin. "There's that wow factor."

In an alley off NW 10th Street in OKC graffiti artists like Gilpin have free reign to create as well as permission from friendly property owners. "It is really non-traditional," agrees Gilpin.

This might seem like a strange place for someone with Dusty's artistic pedigree. Both his father and grandfather were artists, but this Gilpin has always been right at home with cartoon caricatures writ large.

Recalling his days at school, Gilpin says, "I was always notorious for drawing cartoons of my teachers in different scenarios, like me battling them. Something weird like that."

He runs a silk screen shop with some friends. The Tree and Leaf is another creative outlet. He even sells a little paint on the side. "I started selling paint when I started doing murals," he says.

Media and medium. Artists like to play with both. It's the style people often come to recognize. Dusty Gilpin sells regular paintings too. But the medium might be old, cracked wood.

The media is still drippy paint, graffiti overspray under serious art. "It reciprocates the other way too," he says. "Graffiti is a great background to paint on top of."

The tagger is outlaw. The graffiti artist draws energy from that edge. Graffiti, says Dusty, "has no guarantee of life." He might work within the law but his style is still big and bold. Somewhere out there a plain wall begs for something colorful.

Dusty Gilpin's work is part of a new show at the Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City. The gallery is celebrating their 6th anniversary.