Yesterday, Bronx graffiti artist Cope2 began working on the Bowery Mural on East Houston Street. Legendary street art documentarian Martha Cooper, who was on the scene photographing Cope2, pointed out, "It'll have wildstyle, bubble letters, tags and pieces, which is unusual for the Bowery wall."

Cope2 (born Fernando Carlo) has been tagging since the late 1970s but he's especially happy to be working on the Bowery Mural. He contacted Goldman Properties four years ago about painting the wall, which first gained fame when Keith Haring painted it in 1982. More recently, How & Nosm, Twist and Revok and POSE has taken their turn with the wall. Cope2 told us, "It's the best wall in New York City. Most walls are ruined now."

The South Bronx native added, "It's good exposure for any artist," and he does have a show at Azart Gallery, opening Thursday, May 15. But he thought he'd be further along with the wall by now.

Cope2 pointed to a scissor lift that was being serviced by a mechanic. The machine "never started" so he hadn't been able to work on the top of the mural. With rain in the forecast for tomorrow, Cope2 said, "I'm just trying to finish the bottom and hopefully I can get to the top later." (A new lift was being sent to the mural.) If it rains tomorrow, he'll take a break and come back to it.

Many people stopped to observe Cope2 work on the colorful wall, with admirers shaking his hand or giving him a fist bump. However, there are some detractors: Vandalog editor-in-chief RJ Rushmore posted Tweets and Instagrams showcasing Cope2's homophobic rants:

When asked about them, Cope2 emphatically told us, "I'm not homophobic," adding, "I have many gay friends." He did admit, however, that "it's wrong to use those words."

But why use them? Cope2 said it's because he's getting attacked, adding, "I have to piss off" the haters. Cope2 claimed his gay friends are okay with him using homophobic language: "They say, 'Do what you gotta do.' They know I'm pissing people off."

He told us again, "I shouldn't be using that...[but] people say things out of anger," and he's been responding to a lot of "bull crap" that's been said about him. Specifically referring to Rushmore, Cope2 said, "He has a personal problem with me. He's been disrespecting me for a while... I never did anything to that kid."

If Rushmore came to the mural while he's working or at the gallery show this Thursday, Cope2 promised, "If I see him, I'm gonna smack him... Some people really need to get their ass kicked." Cope2 opined, "Blogs attack you to get publicity to their sites." Rushmore told us that any dispute between the two of them "does not excuse his language." (Apparently the beef stems from Rushmore's disinterest in Cope2's work.)

"How people feel about [Cope2] will play out on the wall," Cooper said, referring to the practice of dissing pieces, "and that's exciting."