Zephyr: First One

Zephyr: First One

Posted by Rich Colicchio on Sep 20, 2022

On June 18,1982 Zephyr opened the first one man show at 51X gallery. It set the stage for the style of exhibition 51X would become known for. Zephyr himself and the show were an enormous influence on me. He changed the way I thought a gallery exhibit should look. 

Before the show and planning to start the work, Zeph said to my partner Ed Kurpell that he wished I would go to New Jersey for the weekend. This way he could go off and bomb the entire space. When he finished, the exhibition was installation based. Wooden panels were hung as the center point for the piece, with spray paint extending onto the walls from ceiling to floor. He wanted it to resemble how graffiti actually looked on the streets. It was awesome and one of the first gallery shows of it's kind. 

Zephyr was the first to have a color xerox as the invite for 51X. Color xeroxing was all the rage at the time. The Fun Gallery was also using them for their invites and Club 57 frequently put on color xerox art shows. Everyone went to the same copy shop  in SoHo. There were very few around with a self-serve color copy machine. On any given day, while making color copies in the backroom, you could bump into Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf or Patti Astor to name a few. 

As Zeph and I were walking  back from the copy shop, we decided to get a sandwich at Schattz's Deli. Zeph ordered a Swiss cheese hero with lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. I was still fresh out of New Jersey and had not been around many vegetarians. A little confused I said, you forgot to get meat on it. He looked at me with a smile and said I know. It was the first time I witnessed someone order a hero with just cheese and no meat. Years later and now also a vegetarian, whenever getting just a cheese hero I think of it as ordering the Zephyr. 

During the one man show Zeph always came by and hung out. In the gallery area there was a small room with it's door painted black. One day when standing around, he decided to tag it with a gold enamel paint marker. Drawn about eye level, the fresh Zephyr tag became the first one done on the now infamous Black Door.

From 1982 until 1984 every graffiti writer that stopped by 51X tagged the door, making it an icon in the history of graffiti. All because of the first one by Zephyr! 

Artists such as Futura, Dondi, Revolt and Fab Five Freddy would always gather at 51X. Sometimes Zephyr just wouldn't stop yammering on and on, saying to make a long story longer. He is the first one I saw talk for an hour straight without taking a single breath.

They were wonderful moments.

 Zephyr will always be an important part of 51X. a true friend and in so many ways the first one!

- 51X