Monday, July 1, 2013

Secret Art in Hartford

Sad?  Resigned?  Bored?
Freedom or security?
Day of the Dead
Ambling around the less traveled Hartford by foot and by bike, one finds amazing works of graffiti art.  The best pieces often the least accessible or exposed.  I find this really interesting.  It's as if those that wander off the beaten path in urban Hartford get rewarded with private viewing of secret art.  I'm thinking that wasn't necessarily the goal of the artist.  Most graffiti is put up without permission and under threat of vandalism and  trespassing charges.  Putting the piece up in a seldom used train tunnel gives the artist much more time than what could be slapped up on a visible overpass or abandoned building facing the street.  The artist has time to layer, add detail, and go large.  If they don't like something, they can fix it.

Another interesting aspect of graffiti art in Hartford and some other cities, is when the previously illicit art, honed in the shadows, becomes an accepted art form and finds its way onto buildings as advertising and decoration.  When graffiti is seen for the value it adds, instead of the value it detracts - and it can do both.  Park Street has several "legal" graffiti based signs and art, as does Homestead.  I recently came across a huge piece on Windsor Street.   Certain entrepreneurs, public organizations, and arts organizations have identified the talent and recognized the visual draw of well executed urban art.  Every time I pass Pelican on Park Street, the Sophia Maldonado work on the front of the building makes me want to get a tattoo, and someday I'll actually do it.

You may have seen these modified crosswalk signs around town.
Hartford has a little slice of Heaven for lovers of graffiti art.  Its actually called Heaven, and this legal graffiti zone / park is located just north of downtown Hartford.  If you haven't been there, you are missing a dynamic art hot zone.  Pieces may last a week, or several months.  There are small quirky works and stencils and huge sprawling burners and artworks taking up entire walls.  The Hartford Graffiti ride that I'm doing on Friday, July 19th starts (@ 7:30PM) and ends at Heaven.  If you show up, make sure you bring fat tires, pumps, and spare tubes.

*** The Hartford Graffiti Ride has been subsumed by the RAW Real Ride due to rescheduling of that event for the same evening.  Still riding, but starting from Real Art Ways on Arbor Street.  Meet at 6PM, and roll when it starts to get dark. ***

This bee was hanging out in Heaven a couple weeks ago, but he's gone now.
A friend from Urbana, IL just forwarded me a photo of a Kickstarter funded public art piece in an underused and previously boring alleyway.  This is a great business model for public art in times of contracting municipal budgets!  Find a building owner with a vacant and boring wall, pitch them an idea for a piece, start a kickstarter campaign to pay the artist.  Graffiti artists that had been forced to do their best work in secret could make some inroads into exposed public spaces, with the time needed to put up the best - and get paid.

Found this unexpectedly well populated wall in Stafford Springs.
Heads up to Tavis / Skan duo (or someone that knows them can give them my contact info).  I've seen a lot of your work and chatted with a certain arts organization.  What would you think of a Kickstarter type campaign and piece on a large wall associated with the arts organization?  I would love to help make this connection and could even help with the Kickstarter stuff.  Drop me a line either through Beat Bike Blog, or you can email me directly (acherolis at

Nice burner by the river.  


Anonymous said...

great piece. But some of us want to remain "secret" and don't seek arts organizations ok. Away with the man. Love your photos.

Chassidy said...