Believe in People strikes again with new mural

Believe in People has struck again, this time in an alley on Chapel Street.
Believe in People has struck again, this time in an alley on Chapel Street. Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

New Haven’s most famous anonymous graffiti artist has struck again, but this time with permission.

A mural next to Hull’s Art Supply & Framing on Chapel Street, depicting a silhouetted pole vaulter in front of maroon mountains and a golden sun, is the latest work of the anonymous and sometimes controversial graffiti artist who calls himself “Believe in People.” At the bottom of the painting, which measures 15 by 15 feet, the words “Do Something Amazing” appear in black block letters. Although Believe in People first gained recognition by illegally painting on Yale’s property in October 2010, this mural represents the first time the artist received permission for his work.

Since arriving on the New Haven scene last school year, the artist has sparked controversy among Yale students, administrators and other New Haven residents, most notably for his recent painting on the back wall of a classroom in Linsly-Chittenden Hall that showed a distressed young man contemplating a future in finance.

That mural, which appeared in LC 211 one early Sunday morning in late January, was quickly painted over by Yale maintenance.

“No matter how beautiful [graffiti] may be… it is an act of vandalism,” University Properties Director Abigail Rider wrote in an email to the News last March, adding that she encouraged Believe in People to “convince someone to sponsor a wall painting.”

With the mural in the alley by Hull’s, the artist appears to have struck a balance between his previous endeavors and a more legal approach.

An intermediary going by the name “Neils” contacted Hull’s owner Stephen Kovel SOM ’78 several weeks ago for permission to paint on the side of the building, Kovel said, adding that he agreed on the condition that if Hull’s did not like the result, Believe in People must paint over it.

Believe in People accepted the condition, and ladders and buckets soon appeared in the alley, Kovel said. After several weeks, the artist announced the mural’s completion with a YouTube video and a Twitter “shout out” to Kovel and Hull’s creative director for “donating the canvas” and “letting me do my thing.” In the end, Hull’s management said they were pleased with the artwork.

Other Chapel Street business owners said the mural was an improvement.

“I don’t mind it at all,” said Bansit Chanhom, the owner of Thai Pan-Asian, located on the opposite side of the alley from Hull’s, adding that “anything would be better than a blank wall.”

Across the street, several guests of the Hotel Duncan agreed.

Duncan guest Robert Jones, who has lived in the hotel for five years, described the alley prior to the appearance of the colorful artwork as “ugly” and “depressing.”

Hull’s has been in New Haven since 1947.


  • Catherine08

    Wow, this mural is just amazing.

  • DocHollidaye

    Yes I say keep the mural because it is the most beautiful thing in that very dull alleyway.

    Any space is better when good and positive art livens it up.

  • TT

    Would love to see a shot of the work that appeared on LC 211.
    Was it posted earlier?

  • cwakefield2011

    dope. this really makes me respect hull’s. too many art shops sell the material without supporting the soul of the business. kudos to them.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Believe in People (BIP)

    Marcel Marceau used his own face and body as graffiti art, creating a white-faced mute character named Bip for half a century of pantomime on stages across the world.

    New Haven’s Bip is equally impressive. His Linsley Chit work should have been sent to the Yale Art Gallery not painted over.

    Instead, in a pique of rage at Bip’s defacement of Linsley Chit with intellectually stimulating art, the bureaurat DEFACES the art?

    Ya gotta wonder at what dust floats around in a bureaucrat’s skull.

    What a crazy world.

    Thank goodness for the common sense of Hulls.


    • MMcGrath

      I know you students think grafitti is “cool” because youre young and impressionable and want to change the world.
      I get that trust me I was there I lived through the 60’s for Christ’s sake!!! But you get a little older and wiser (no offense) you begin to understand what a detriment this kind of “art” (and I put quotes on the word “art” because let’s face it it’s vandalism!!!) is to society.
      I don’t care if Pablo Picaso painted it if it’s on my wall without my permission it’s vandalism ergo it has no place or value or worth and moreover I must a moral obligation to destroy it lest others think it okay to vandalize my property more!!!!!

      This particular vandal has some remarkable skill, but that does not make what he is doing to this city and your institution okay. Have some pride for yourselves. These pictures should be in the crime blotter.

      Now there I’ve said my piece go ahead and discredit me as an old fart but my logic is bulletproof and you can’t discredit that.

  • anon12

    Man, some of his stuff is cool but doesn’t anyone think its getting a bit trite? Is the only reason he gets constant praise because its ‘graffiti’?

    If Hull’s had just commissioned some normal painter/company to paint this mural, I think no one would be saying anything. Accept maybe ‘damn, they couldn’t think of a better tagline?’

  • Totoro2

    You bring up a good point.
    Although he doesn’t have the luxuries of normal muralists. He had to paint that mural entirely in darkness without attracting any attention, despite the fact that it looks like he actually had approval this time?

    And I guess another relevant point here is: This isn’t a one time thing. Before LC there was Anne Frank and before that Skull and Bones and then WLH, or that lost terrier (or poodle?) one that he kept changing, right? So artistic talent aside, he also clearly has a real talent for getting away with some ridiculously ambitious/illegal pieces. It’s seriously incredible. In my last two years here, he’s managed to change my environment in a small but noticeable way. Who knows what else in New Haven.

    So I dunno. I guess I’d agree with you that if a normal muralist did it or someone chalked it on the road or something like that, I’d probably just call bullshit. However, when an artist that actually does amazing things tells me to “do something amazing”, it makes me question the level of jadedness I’ve come to accept in myself. When did I stop secretly believing I could be an amazing person? I felt that way when I came here, and I’m not sure I believe it anymore. Maybe you never felt that way, so I can understand why you wouldn’t connect with it in that case, but his work definitely appeals to me and engages with me.

    I agree with you though, it’d be cool to see him throw some harder punches occasionally. The Skull and Bones one was hilarious.

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