MANHATTAN (PIX11) — He’s a Harlem legend.

It’s hard to miss his work if you’re on 125th Street. Murals by Franco Gaskin, also known as Franco the Great and as the Picasso of Harlem, cover metal security gates in Harlem.

Gaskin has turned 125th Street into an outdoor art gallery. For more than 40 years, he’s painted more than 200 metal gates. He’s celebrating a milestone birthday and has a book of his works out right now. 

Gaskin started in the 1970s. He painted hundreds of murals on the metal gates of closed Harlem stores, up and down 125th Street. Gaskin became a local celebrity.  

Now arthritis has impacted Gaskin’s hands and he can’t paint anymore. His home is now his gallery. Some of his pieces focus on local musicians, legends like Martin Luther King Jr. and sometimes celebrities.

Gaskin has two books out right now focused on his life and work. He says because of the pandemic, many of his works of art have been defaced by graffiti. He hopes people will find his work on social media and appreciate it.  

Gaskin hopes people will be moved by his art.  There’s a definite message: Bloom where you are planted. He dreams of having a section of 125th Street named Franco’s Boulevard. For more information, go to his site.