Just read an inspiring story in the New York Times about the power of art — and what constitutes a real artist (someone who creates year in and year out, often without recognition or payment). Meet Franco Gaskin (pictured above), an 82-year-old mural artist who lives and works in New York City’s Harlem – specifically on 125th Street (which some call Franco Street in his honor).

Forty years ago, when retailers abandoned their Harlem storefronts, Mr. Gaskin began painting his murals on the roll-down gates — to beautify the neighborhood and uplift people’s spirits. Over the years, Gaskin painted 200 intricate murals that celebrate life and art.

But now the neighborhood is getting gentrified, so new store owners are coming in (can you say “Starbucks”?) and Gaskin’s murals are coming down at a rapid pace — only 25  of these treasures remain. Efforts are under way to preserve the remaining works of art — which the New York Times has called “brilliant.” Read about it here, where you can enjoy photos of murals that Gaskin has created.

Photo: Chester Higgins, Jr., New York Times, All Rights Reserved