Gary "The Local Brush" Kupfer's 1963 Chevrolet Corvette
1963 Chevrolet Corvette owned and restyled by Gary "The Local Brush" Kupfer of Roosevelt, New York. Gary's Corvette might have been the first ever lace painted car.
For many years, Larry Watson of Watson's House of Style was recognized as the inventor of the lace paint job, as he debuted Doug Carney's 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix with a lace paint job at an indoor car show in April 1967. However, recent information has surfaced that challenges this claim, and it seems that Gary "The Local Brush" Kupfer of Roosevelt, New York, might have been the actual inventor of the technique. In November 1966, five months before Watson's famous debut, Kupfer showed his panel and lace-painted 1963 Chevrolet Corvette at the ISCA New York Coliseum Show. According to Kupfer, no one knew what it was at the time, and people referred to it as the "paisley paint job." The following year, almost half the cars at the same show featured lace paint jobs. Kupfer has always been aware that Larry Watson has been attributed to doing the first lace paint job but acknowledged that California received more recognition as the Mecca of custom car culture, overshadowing the East Coast's contributions.
Gary Kupfer is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. "In my first year at SVA in 1965, there was another student who was using spray cans & inanimate objects to create silhouette shapes on canvas," Kupfer told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama late in 2022. "He used things like leaves, torn paper & a small piece of lace & much more. What I noticed was the detail that the lace provided. At that same time, I was in the midst of custom painting my own personal Corvette. I had already panel painted it with Candy Apple Green and Blue, and at that moment decided to use lace for the center panels. It was a risky move, especially when I mentioned lace to my friends. I had to experiment and practice first. I then Metalflaked a Masonite panel, and after clear coating it, I used two different types of lace to see which one would look better." After experimenting and practicing on the panel, Kupfer successfully applied the lace paint job technique to his Corvette, predating Watson's famous work. As of today, the origin of the lace custom paint job technique, therefore, can be traced back to Gary Kupfer in the mid-1960s in New York City. Southern California, with its thriving car culture and creative atmosphere, provided an ideal environment for the technique to gain popularity, with Larry Watson playing a key role in promoting the method.
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