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.