Graffiti-painting Ruby Phillips’ refrigerator was a first for Gary White of Davenport.

White, 42, began graffiti painting about 30 years ago when he started — “illegally,” by his own admission — to paint railroad cars, bridge abutments and the sides of buildings.

He has since refined his self-taught skills and now gets paid to do his work. His “day job” is as a conventional house painter — interiors and exteriors — but his great love is graffiti murals.

There’s much more to his work than popping the lid of a spray can and pressing a button. With different nozzles and caps that are geared toward artists, he can render shadowing and crisp lines, just like a conventional painter. To get started, he sketches an outline with light-color paint and then fills in from there.

“Anything you can do with a brush, you can do with a spray can,” he said.

Some of his work is representational. That is, it looks realistic. A mural he did for the back patio of the 11th Street Precinct in Davenport, for example, looks like a scene from Venice, with boats, water and homes.

Other works have included the Davenport Skatepark as well as murals for kids’ and family rooms.

On Thursday, May 30, White and fellow painter Kevin Lonergan will do a live graffiti art presentation at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

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Called “Project Greenspace: Street Art on the Plaza,” the two will spend part of the afternoon creating art on 4-by-8-foot boards. Then, at 5 p.m., the public will be invited to join in, creating their own art on additional boards, said Lynn Gingras-Taylor, the Figge’s creative arts coordinator.

“These guys are legends in our time,” she said of White and Lonergan. “They are very, very good artists.”

White and Gingras-Taylor emphasize that White no longer does any illegal painting and is in no way affiliated with gangs.

Originally from Seattle, he “bounces back and forth between here (the Quad-Cities) and Minneapolis,” White said.