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Introduction

Over a period of 25 plus years, Franco has changed the image of Harlem by painting the security gates of storefronts on 125th Street. His work in Harlem has brought him world renown; below are some excerpts from the many news articles from around the world, written to explain the work and origin of this great artist.
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Baby Franco
Franco's Story
GOOD CAN COME FROM ADVERSITY (CHILDHOOD)

At 3 years of age, Franco fell several stories, landing on his head and leaving him in a coma for a month with a swollen head. Everyone seemed to give up hope for Franco, including the doctor who said that all that could be done was to pack his head with ice. His own grandmother ended up in the hospital upon seeing Franco's condition. Because of Franco's disability, hardly anyone paid much attention to him. Franco became an introvert, and was reluctant to attend school. His means of making friends at school was to utilize his artistic skills to draw a schoolmate and thus become his friend. He discovered that his first love was cartooning; he created many characters that became his virtual friends.

At 9 years of age, in order to add additional excitement and create more friends, he started to practice the art of magic. He went to the local Catholic priest to tell him of his desire to develop magic skills. After hours of trying to articulate his needs, the kind priest finally understood Franco and purchased him a book on magic, which Franco has prized to this day. This was Franco's first experience of having someone truly pay attention to him.

The name Franco the Great came about as a result of his talent in the field of magic. Franco became so proficient in his magic skills that his teachers and peers encouraged Franco to show and teach his magic. He gained his confidence in school day by day as he connected with other people and gained new friends.

Another influential person in his life was an artist named Danzig, who tutored Franco for four years, giving him speaking lessons; through Danzig's tuterage Franco gained the confidence needed in order to talk in front of large audiences.

Danzig advised Franco to become entrepreneurial by selling his artwork in order to purchase tools and materials for his magic. At this time Franco was achieving top awards and prizes in art competitions. Franco started having dreams of being a professional artist in New York's Harlem.

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Franco the Great as a magician
   
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Baby Franco in NYC
   
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First work in downtown

JOURNEY TO NEW YORK AND THE BEGINNINGS OF SUCCESS

In 1958, Franco's grandmother sent for him to come to the United States from his native Panama to pursue his career as an artist. In order to establish his name and work, Franco started by donating his work to different establishments; He promoted himself by leaving his artwork as his calling card. A magic moment came when Franco left uptown Harlem society that was wary of his offer of free artwork; Franco went downtown to paint for a 14th Street Mexican bar. To Franco's amazement, he immediately became an established artist. The Spanish press gave Franco the connections necessary to do work throughout the Spanish community.

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Harlem Gates

HARLEM GATES

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, there were riots in the streets; Harlem storeowner reaction was the introduction of dreary looking metal gates on the storefronts. In 1978, Franco took it upon himself to change a negative into a positive by creating a new art form on the steel gates. From then on to present, he has used Sundays, when stores are closed, to paint over 200 gates from the West to the East Side of 125th street." The murals that Franco creates portray his forward-looking philosophy; for example, his very first gate painting is based upon the theme "I must bloom where I am planted." His second gate's theme was "Think Positive".

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Franco on 125th Street

"Name it, I paint"

Franco speciaized in:

M
Murals
Restraurants
Gates
Nightclubs
Churches
Trucks
Mosaic Mirrors
Velvets
Canvas
Black light effects
Window displays
Kids rooms
Nursery Schools

No place is complete without Franco

FRANCO TODAY

On most Sundays, you can find Franco on 125th Street greeting tourists. His joy is making his community a more pleasant place through his artwork and the warmth that he displays for everyone. Through his exposure to the numerous tourists on 125th street, Franco has received many invitations to paint wall murals in other countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Caribbean Islands and several African countries. His works found throughout New York City and in other countries include murals in schools, nurseries, bars and nightclubs.

  today  
       
switzerland
japan
germany
Switzerland Japan Germany
africa
bahama
france
Africa Bahamas France
 
 
award Awards:

dot Ebony Awakening Community Service Award, 2004
dot Ghetto Fab Award, 2004
dot Harlem Week Special Achievement Award
dot Certificate of Appreciation, Patrolmens Benevolent Association of the City of New York, Inc., 2000
dot Certificate of Appreciation Award
dot U.S. Dept of Justice, Drug Enforcement Adm, 1984
dot Uptown Chamber of Commerce, 1982
   
review Franco in Books:

dot Harlem Memories, 2003
dot Along Martin Luther King, 2003
dot Spirit of Harlem, 2003
dot Harlem Speaks (Japanese Book), 1995
dot Harlem Today, 1986
 
Franco's Art History
2007 Franco the Great Website renewal.

2003

Franco the Great Website opens.

2001

Tokyo (Ginza) Japan "Genius Club" Disco Club exotic design mural.

2000

Fukuoka (Kokura) Japan beauty salon shutters (Gates).

1999

Fukuoka (Kokura) Japan-- "Soul Heaven" nightclub mural.

1997

Fukuoka (Kokura) Japan garment store for men mural. Hip Hop style painting.

1996

Nagano & Tokyo Japan-- demonstrating for kindergarten, cartoons with the English alphabet.

1993

Tokyo (Ginza) Japan Matuya department store on large mural, and lecture in Yokohama University.

1991

Fukuoka Japan Exhbition and large mural. Lecture in American Center. Also 6 large murals at Port Authority.

1988

Yokohama Japan-- painted huge mural on one entire street block.

1985

France, invitation by government, to paint murals for 4 cities. Also Lions Club painting for school.

1984

Went to Senegal, Africa, to teach at School of Beautiful Art for 3 months.

1983

Racing Mural for the Off Tracking Betting office and businesses. Also McDonald's stores.

1978

Mohammed Ali portrait. Also paintings for local gallery in NY. Started painting over 200 gates on 125th street East to West.

1971-1974

Mural in Mexico City supper club. Created new art form with the ashes of deceased persons including his uncle, other persons and pets. Painting on velvets and canvas.

1966-1967

Sculpture and painting. Murals for different establishments.

1961-1964

Caribbean painting for tourism. Nat King Cole family portrait. Steve Allen portrait. In Ted Mc TV Show, painting blindfolded. Commercial works.

1960

Large murals with changing effects into night and day, invisible to visible, like winter to summer.

1958 Came to Harlem NY; mural work in churches, restaurants, nightclubs, schools etc.; Commercial works.
1945-1958 Panama-- (Hilton Hotel, US Officers Club, The Yacht Club, churches, schools, etc.) Movie Billboards, Nightclubs, Bars and other commercial work.


Franco will go any place in the world. He has worked in many continents, and yours is no exception!
E-MAIL: info@francothegreat.com  TEL: (925) 886-5330  FAX: (212) 864-6780
 
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