Gallery Preserves “Believe” Surprise

BiPgraffiti.comRather than play the stuffy spoil-sport, Yale University Art Gallery Wednesday decided to hold onto a satiric plaque affixed to its building by the street artist “Believe in People”—and make sure the work survives.

The Chapel Street gallery announced that it won’t throw out the faux “historic” plaque (pictured) that it removed from the exterior of its building on April Fool’s Day.

Instead it will put it back up, in a glass case, for public viewing on Thursday. Then, if Believe in People (not pictured) doesn’t show up to claim the work, the gallery will donate it to an annual fund-raising auction held to benefit Artspace.

Believe in People claimed responsibility for creating the plaque and leaving it on a brick wall of the gallery on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning the gallery, in keeping with the view of 70 percent of Independent readers who participated in a “TrueVote” poll, released this statement:

“On April 1, 2014, a mysterious unsigned work of art was discovered affixed to the edifice of the Yale University Art Gallery’s 1953 Louis Kahn building, widely recognized as the architect’s first masterwork.  Removed by Gallery staff for further research, the object which resembles an embossed brass plaque marking a national landmark is, in fact, a piece of carved and painted wood.

Yale Photo“Noting the object’s tongue-in-cheek humor as an artistic conveyance for more probing questions concerning the relationship between street art and art housed within museum walls, Gallery Director Jock Reynolds [pictured] announced that the museum ‘wishes to provide this orphaned object with a temporary and public home.’ It has therefore been decided by Gallery administration to place the work on view outside the museum’s main entrance on Chapel Street, on a pedestal and encased in a glass vitrine.  Reynolds added, ‘It is in our interest as a teaching museum, steward of art, and community institution to return this work to a public venue for further contemplation and appreciation.’

“The work will be on view outside the museum on Thursday, April 3, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. The Yale University Art Gallery invites the artist to come and claim his or her work.  Should the work remain unclaimed after two weeks, the Gallery will donate it to the annual benefit auction for ARTspace, New Haven’s community arts organization and exhibition space dedicated to championing emerging artists.”

Back in 2000 Jock Reynolds gave the first major exhibition to a then-unknown and underappreciated Newhallville artist named Winfred Rembert, who has since gone on to national acclaim and professional success.

An earlier version of this story follows:

Gallery Doesn’t “Believe In” This April Fool’s Gift

BiPgraffiti.comStreet artist “Believe in People” marked April Fool’s Day by affixing an “historic” plaque outside the Yale University Art Gallery. The gallery apparently wasn’t amused.

The graffiti artist, whose striking and provocative pieces over the years have wowed the city and sparked debates about public art as well as race and class, announced in January that he was leaving town.

Whether as a parting gift or return visit, the artist was back at work on Chapel Street. He affixed the above faux “National Register of Historic Places” plaque on the brick wall by the bus shelter in front of the art gallery. The artist took credit for the work on his Twitter feed. “Making fun of myself, art culture, advertising, and vandalism, all in one send-up,” he wrote.

Chris Randall shot a photo of the plaque and posted it Tuesday morning on the I Love New Haven website.

Paul Bass PhotoBy the time fans started showing up to view the piece, the gallery had already removed it; the lingering white adhesive was still sticky. This photo was taken around 11:30 a.m. The gallery didn’t immediately offer a comment about the episode; we’ll update the story when it does. Gallery director Jock Reynolds, reached by email, said he was traveling in New York and had “no knowledge” about the episode.


Headlined “National Register of Historic Places,” the Believe in People plaque proceeds to read:

“This plaque marks the spot on which Sam Dilvan used a felt marker to scrawl the minimalist yet emotionally complex tag, ‘Boobz.’ Preceding such works of artistic genius as ‘ass butt’ and ‘gilf magnet’. This occurred during his oft-celebrated ‘Ballz’ period. Although the original masterpiece is no longer visible, Dilvan’s penchant for using words carelessly throughout his environment remains a guiding force in modern society and culture.”

“Sam Dilvan” is an anagram of “vandalism.”

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posted by: cedarhillresident! on April 1, 2014  12:27pm

***standing and clapping***

This is art! Unless you are a fuddy duddy…lighten up Yale. It was done nicely.

posted by: 1483mmm on April 1, 2014  12:39pm

This is funny!

posted by: Elizabethaiken on April 1, 2014  1:05pm

This is awesome. I wish the art gallery were not such a stuffy place and could look at this as street art worth keeping. Take yourself less seriously.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 1, 2014  2:28pm

Nice Shenanigans!

If Yale is smart, they will save that plaque…..

But c’mon stuffed shirts of the art world, you couldn’t leave the thing up for the duration of April Fool’s Day?????

posted by: LorcaNotOrca on April 1, 2014  2:42pm

Well then, a world class art institution that doesn’t recognize the well-executed street art around it.
No real damage or disrespect shown to the building. A witty commentary. But, snatch it down.

Let some air into your britches, Yale.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on April 1, 2014  3:08pm

What cedarhill and the others said.  Geez, Yale, loosen up and take a joke ONE DAY A YEAR at least.  This was actually FUNNY, and you had to just go all SchoolMarm about it.


posted by: Bill Saunders on April 1, 2014  3:27pm

Remember, this is the same world-class art institution that has totally removed all political and social implications from the famed Duchamp Shovel.  Even though the one YAG has is a fake, you would never know the artist’s real intent at stirring the snooty artpot…..

If you own it, you don’t only control the art, you control the message….

posted by: cupojoe on April 1, 2014  4:07pm


posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on April 1, 2014  4:38pm

The Duke of Vandals!!

posted by: Chris Randall on April 1, 2014  9:48pm

Sam Dilvan is vandalism…

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 2, 2014  1:26am

Why would the guy that took the pictures, expose the joke?

posted by: JEY on April 2, 2014  9:12am

The prank and subsequent news coverage reeks of self-promotional publicity stunt.  Where is the art?

posted by: poetbum on April 2, 2014  11:28am

Yale University deserves nearly all of the criticism it gets.  But Yale University Art Gallery… Do you realize how awesome it is that it’s free?  That you can walk off the street, pay nothing, and spend all day staring at an original Van Gogh?  And they’re keeping the plaque.  The Gallery deserves thumbs up, and our support.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on April 2, 2014  11:51am

Love it. Hopefully the gallery holds on to it for a permanent collection.

posted by: Joe City on April 2, 2014  12:51pm

I would like to echo BB above, not only should Yale hold onto the plaque, it should add a photo collection of BiP’s work as a tribute to a New Haven artist deserving of a place in a New Haven gallery.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on April 2, 2014  1:41pm

Super cool response in the update by gallery and great that it is going up for auction to benefit a local organization.

posted by: Chris Randall on April 2, 2014  3:17pm

I actually took and posted 13 images of it on ILNH.(and stayed up all night to make sure I didn’t miss the opportunity)

Here’s a link to all of the images:

posted by: Dwightstreeter on April 2, 2014  5:15pm

If the management of the YUAG had “emotional intelligence”, as taught by President Salovey, they would have added to this bit of whimsy (surely not vandalism) by leaving the plaque in place, gathering some musicians and distributing free coffee to passersby in celebrating of being pranked.


posted by: Bill Saunders on April 3, 2014  3:28am

Is it going up for auction???
BIP might exercise his option to pick it up.  I know I would.

ArtSpace auctioning off street art??? 
What kind of alternate universe are we living in…..???

As I said before, he who owns the art, control$ the message…....

BIP just got co-opted…..

posted by: Jcnork on April 3, 2014  10:56pm

BiP posted this response letter: