Few things in Haverhill are as divisive as the graffiti downtown. Where some see urban blight, others see colorful expression. But, don’t think Haverhill’s alone in this. These two viewpoints are universal, and their respective camps have been duking it out in major cities across the globe for decades.
Urban blight? Or "Outta Sight!?"
I guess I fall somewhere in between urban art love and graffiti hate. While I was truly bummed to see the colorful backside of Woolworth’s was no longer, I feel that same pang every time I see a haphazard tag on the front of the businesses and homes that people work hard to maintain. And, I wish as an alternative to all this spraypainting we had some wheatpaste artists running around, plastering the city with their more ephemeral and environmentally-friendly art. Still, I happily take what I can get, street art-wise.
The other day, an argument broke out on one of my Flickr photos between a graffiti supporter and a detractor. In the end, though, they both agreed- a potential solution to this problem is to set aside a legal space in Haverhill for graffiti artists to do their thing. Cambridge and Beverly have embraced this concept, and don’t even get me started on the street art of San Francisco’s Mission District. (I just went out and bought not one, but two books on the subject.)
But if in Haverhill, where should it be?
Following up on a tip from my fellow graffiti fan, tonight I drove back behind Building #19 to check out what was described as “seriously like the very best spot” for urban expression. Tucked back there is a mini urban art oasis. It’s surprisingly tidy back there, and there are no abutting neighbors to cry eyesore. Very interesting. Here are a few snaps:
Finding a home for graffiti in Haverhill? Easier sprayed than done.
I love this grumpy guy.
I call this one "Snake waving hankerchief." Ohhh...it's a WHAT?
Haverhill is a city that has most awesomely embraced the arts, and I think that street art and graffiti could and should be considered just another facet of that. If I can do just one thing for the city of Haverhill, I’d love for it to be becoming the facilitator of this. Of course, this is only the beginning of my exploration of this subject, so I’m all ears if anyone has any ideas or suggestions.