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by Mel Fenson
wild splashes of color artistically applied from cans of spray paint, Gamma Acosta creates amazing, larger-than-life images of people, fantasies, and tributes to soldiers and musicians, as well as abstract designs on sides of buildings, on walls, in malls, in alleys and in theaters.

Self-taught, Gamma has only been spray painting murals for three-and- a-half years, although he said he has been drawing since he was a kid. Gamma was born in Denver, but grew up in Longmont, Colorado. His spray painting of large murals began, when he received permission to paint on the side of a long building that his family owned, located at 3rd and Lashley streets in Longmont.

As Gamma's work started to be noticed, he began receiving commissioned work, which developed into a thriving mural business. In addition to his mural work, He also sells prints of his work and said he has started a new T-shirt design line. Gamma also does family and memorial portraits in oil and acrylic on canvas and illustrations for tattoo designs.

Gamma's current work is being done mainly in Boulder and Denver, although he is also working on a mural in the gym at Columbine Elementary in Longmont. Among his other current projects are an abstract mural on a inside wall of Cheba Hut, a sandwich shop in Boulder, and a mural on the outside of Certified Custom, a combination culture store with a tattoo shop, barber shop and clothing store, on South Broadway in Denver.

He recently painted a full floor to ceiling promotional mural of sci-fi transformers from the movie “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon,” at the Twin Peaks Mall Theater complex in Longmont. It took two full work weeks, Gamma said, and he used forty colors of spray paint. He worked from promotional photos from the film, but he said he “eyeballed” the mural, without use of grids or projectors. He said he always works freehand.

Gamma has participated in Longmont’s summertime main street events with live painting demonstrations that draw crowds of interested onlookers. His work has appeared throughout the area from Longmont to Denver.

Gamma said his subject matter varies with his mood and whether he is collaborating with other artists. “I like to draw people because it’s the easiest thing people can relate to,” he commented. However, he said he likes for people to form their own interpretations of what his abstract work is about. Gamma said takes a full work day, just to paint a large mural of a face.

Gamma is frequently joined by other graffiti artists, who come to Longmont from Denver and other surrounding towns to paint their own creative graffiti images on the side of the building at 3rd and Lashley in Longmont. Colorado Magazine Online attended a “Graffiti Battle” there on a recent summer Sunday afternoon. There were about sixteen graffiti painters participating in the colorful event. One of the painters said he uses about $60 worth of spray paint to create an image. Various nozzles are used to control the width of the spray. He said he does the lettering first, then embellishes it. The work requires not only imagination, but a steady hand to execute perfect straight lines and curves. Some artists work from sketches and some from pure imagination. There was a competition being held that day and the winner won one hundred dollars. The event also celebrated Gamma’s birthday.

Graffiti art is a pop culture and it dates back to ancient times. It has long appeared on railroad boxcars and in New York subways, as well as internationally. Graffiti has been used to express social, political, love and other messages. It ranges from complex lettering to elaborate wall paintings. Today it is commonly associated with hip hop music. Graffiti has been considered as both vandalism, when painted in public places without permission, and as an appreciated art form with reproductions published in books and exhibited in fine art galleries. Graffiti art forms have also been used for commercial advertising.

The graffiti on the building at 3rd and Lashley usually remains for several weeks, until the next gathering, at which time it is painted over and new paintings are started.

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