Friday, March 28, 2014

New book on Queens Graffiti Legend DON ONE

Don1, the King from Queens: The Life and Photos of a NYC Transit Graffiti Master 
by Louie Gasparro 

Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

Photo by SPAR ONE
Photo by DON ONE

I just received a copy of Don One the King from Queens.  It 's extraordinary. It is a biography on one of the subway art movement's unsung heroes and it is told by one of his biggest admirers.   That's why the book so special.   Graffiti is all about influence from generation to generation.  During the mid 1970s DON was a leading style master from Astoria, Queens.  He was an illusive figure and completely vanished from the scene at the conclusion of his career in the late 1970s.

The author, graffiti artist KR ONE aka Louie Gasparro, also of Astoria, was a generation after DON and huge fan of his work. Gasparro spent years trying to track DON down. Eventually he did, but maintaining a connection with DON was not an easy process as DON's life was quite complicated — as revealed in the book.  

DON was photography major at the High School of Art and Design and meticulously documented his work on the subways.   After Gasparro saw the collection of photographs, he felt it was imperative to tell DON's story.  He convinced DON that his life and contribution to graffiti history deserved public recognition — thus the book. 

 What makes this book a real gem is the fact that it does a few things no other book has. It puts Queens and the BMT subway division on the map. When it comes to documenting the history of New York's subway graffiti movement, the other boroughs often overshadow Queens. This book firmly establishes Queens' place in the history of style writing. It is the tale of a Queens bred style master that ranked among the best in the city. 

The book also features almost 200 never before seen photographs — mostly of the BMT subway division shot during the mid 1970s.  Graffiti on the BMT division has not been very well documented, so this collection is extremely rare. It showcases work by DON and that of his contemporaries, such as DEAN, GEAR, SLAVE, JESTER, BUTCH 2, BOMB ONE and LEE. The book features a narrative by Gasparro as well as recollections from DON and many well-known peers, including LEE Quinones, DAZE (Chris Ellis) and BOMB ONE (Al Diaz.)

 The book is a real treasure.

—Eric Deal

 DON ONE— A Legend Well Lived.

 It is available on

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