Shadowy street artist leaves Elm City

BiP, the artist formerly known as Believe in People — a mysterious figure who secretly transforms New Haven buildings at night — said farewell to the Elm City through a film screening on Jan. 4.

BiP gained fame as a street artist by painting murals all across New Haven, including a large mural of Anne Frank on the back of Partners Cafe and a Native American on Skull and Bone’s society building. The screening, which shared some of BiP’s biographical information before explaining that he is leaving New Haven to allow room for other local street artists, said Lou Cox, the local Channel 1 owner, who helped organize the event. The screening had over a hundred attendees, including former mayoral candidates Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, Gary Holder-Winfield, now running for state senate and Henry Fernandez LAW ’94, according to the New Haven Independent.

The film stated that BiP earned a perfect score on the SAT and a perfect GPA, and attended an Ivy League university, according to the New Haven Independent. Though he may have been in attendance at the screening, he did not make a public appearance and his identity remains unknown.

BiP came to New Haven initially only created graffiti on Yale’s campus, though he later spread his work to the rest of the city. At his screening, BiP explained that he chose to paint on Yale buildings because he knew Yale’s security would make painting a challenge and because he wanted share his art with young minds, Cox said. The work that has appeared on or near Yale’s campus includes Hull’s art store and Dunham Labs, in addition to the wall of Skull and Bones.

“Graffiti — and street art by an extension of that — are very much part of an aesthetic battle,” BiP told the News in 2011 in a rare interview. “It’s a battle for what kind of environment we’ll live in as a society, it’s part of a cultural dialogue.”

During the screening, Kwadwo Adea, owner of the Adea Fine Art Academy in New Haven, was listed as an artist BiP admires. Adea said he had never knowingly met BiP but said they talked casually over Twitter and was asked to be involved in the production of the film. Adea said he appreciates BiP’s art because he is able to circumvent “red tape.” He said that because BiP does not always try to produce his murals through legal means, he is able to do so more efficiently.

BiP’s anonymity has allowed him to have a greater impact on the New Haven art scene then he would have otherwise, Cox said.

“Public art in New Haven has always been known about but it’s never had the platform he’s been able to work on,“ Cox said.

Both Cox and Adea said they believed another street artist would attempt to perform a similar role in New Haven now that BiP had left, and that he has had a positive impact on New Haveners’ awareness of art.

However, Steve Kovel, owner of Hull’s art store which has a BiP mural on the side of his building, said he does not think the artist has not been able to significantly change the art scene in New Haven, though others have touted his impact.

BiP did not explain what he intends to do next. Cox believes that he plans to go into fine arts, citing the fact that some BiP artifacts on display at the screening were for sale. Adea, on the other hand, believes that would be too great a change in style for BiP.

Bip and his handlers were unavailable for comment.

The YDN was not able to contact either BiP or his handlers.

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