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“Believe In People” Hits Downtown Rooftop
by Thomas MacMillan | Jul 26, 2012 8:00 am
Posted to: Arts & Entertainment, Downtown
(Updated with landlord response.) New Haven’s resident underground street artist scaled a building on Orange Street and left behind a little boy to admire the city skyline.
A stenciled image of the face of a boy is one of the latest works created by the artist known only as “Believe In People” or simply “BiP.”
Earlier this month, BiP scaled the Emerson apartment building at 284 Orange St. and painted the piece. It’s one of a number of works he’s completed in the last couple of months, including planting flowers on top of a bus stop and installing a series of pieces “visible” only to the blind.
While BiP has been making guerrilla artwork in New Haven for almost two years, his identity remains a mystery. He has repeatedly turned down interview requests from the Independent. Click here to read a previous article about the man, the myth, the murals.
On Thursday, Rev. Ryan Mills, the pastor the the Lutheran church that owns the apartment building, responded to the news of the painting: “Because Trinity Lutheran Church is a congregation that values art and liturgy in the worship of God we can on one level appreciate the artist Believe in People and his work, which one of our members called ‘moving and beautiful’. But we can’t condone anyone breaking into our buildings and altering them, putting themselves and our apartment house residents at risk. I invite Believe in People to meet our congregation’s diverse members and see what believing in the people of New Haven looks like on a day-to-day basis. Help us take care of this part of New Haven and make a positive difference here, as Trinity Lutheran Church has for almost 150 years.”
“The Emerson Apartments Board will determine whether to remove [the new painting] or not. If it is removed, it will be through volunteer labor and donated supplies—we’re not Yale.”
The past two months have been busy for BiP. Here’s a look at what he’s been up to:
On June 1, BiP announced via Twitter the completion of a series of dozens of tags hidden in plain sight around town, available only to those who can’t see. The artist claims to have added Braille messages reading “Believe in People” to 50 locations in town—like elevators and ATMs—where Braille messages for the blind already appear.
A blind person reaching for the buttons in an elevator, for instance, might instead come across an uplifting message that also happens to be the artist’s nome d’arte.
“Maybe she’ll understand what graffiti feels like now,” BiP tweeted.
Just over two weeks later, on June 17, BiP announced he’d put up a piece on South Frontage Road, coupled with a “shout-out” to local Latino advocacy organization Junta For Progressive Action. The painting is an aerosol-stencilled Day of the Dead-like image of a smiling sombrero-wearing skeleton with a guitar. It’s done in the “papel picado” style characteristic of Mexican folk art.
In addition to Junta, BiP has also given a shout-out to the Inside Out Project, the local public art effort that’s been plastering two East Rock underpasses with huge smiling portraits of neighbors. On July 1, BiP tweeted at Ben Berkowitz, one of Inside Out’s lead organizers, “Really feeling @InsideOutNHV.”
BiP declined, however, to collaborate with Inside Out. “@BiP_Treehouse Would be great to see the words believe in people above the @InsideOutNHV mural on Bradley. Just sayin,” Berkowitz tweeted on July 7.
“@benberkowitz Hahah, no way, I like it too much, that would totally ruin it for me,” BiP responded.
The artist also declined to collaborate with another planned public art piece called “Before I Die.” But he has been working with a photographer named Jeremy Minchella, who has been documenting his works. Reached by phone, Minchella declined to comment on his work with BiP.
As of July 1, BiP was also looking for another collaborator. “Looking for a traditional oil painter to collab with on some canvas portraits. Must be a local,” he tweeted.
“Playing around with shadows on Whitney,” he wrote, after painting a stencil of an elephant on the ground so that it appears to be in a cage when light comes through nearby bars.
A week later, on July 11, he went from the ground to the roof. “Something for these high-rise office workers to spot on an Orange St. rooftop. “Two views of a city,” he posted, along with a photo of the piece on top of the Orange Street apartment building. He stenciled the painting on the side of a structure that provides roof access via stairs inside. Thick white paint splatters at the base of the painting show evidence of his presence.
The building, at 284 Orange St., is owned by the Lutheran church next door. Contacted by the Independent, parish administrator Pat Sundermann said she had no idea the building had a new mural. “Oh! I didn’t even know it was there.” She said she would be talking to the apartment building’s board of directors about what to do about it.
Last week, BiP worked on top of another structure. He said he planted pink Zinnias atop a bus station on Church Street, after seeing weeds growing there. “Hope they bloom,” he tweeted.
Three days later, BiP wrote about a failed attempt at another project. “Last night some vigilante threw a crow bar at my head (missed) after calling the cops. Already over it, just bummed that piece won’t exist.”
Most recently, BiP offered a rare glimpse of his work outside of New Haven, showing a photo of a piece in a “bombed-out Brooklyn factory.” BiP practices “traditional graffiti” in New York and does “non-traditional pieces” in New Haven, according to a man named Neils who has acted as an intermediary for BiP in the past.
The piece, labeled “The Compassion Iceberg,” shows that peoples’ lives are much more than what they appear. “How I try to think about other people,” BiP tweeted.
BiP offered another glimpse into his psyche in a July 16, a few days before someone threw the crowbar at him: “Hate on graffiti, my style, my subjects, my ideas, my life, or whatever else you want, but make no mistake: I love New Haven. All of it.”
Tags: Believe In People
Post a Comment
KUDOS TO YOU BIP!!! For your philosophy and its non verbal clarity, I salute you.This article goes under my favorite heading:” Sure Could Use a Little Good News Today”. Crowbar knucklehead is likely not a supporter of the arts- paradoxically, the type of person your art reaches out to, to start an internal dialogue. There’s something about New Haven that is tres cool. I live in Cornwall - we support our artists. We have strict zoning, but we love mobiles hanging from trees, and huge sculptures on the lawn. You go BIP
The best works come out of New York.
Keith Haring Pop Shop.
This is yet another reason why I love New Haven. Thanks BIP - your work is truly exciting! Hope to see more of it in the future!
I hope the good folks at the Emerson apartment building will leave the mural up!
TO THE EMERSON APARTMENTS BOARD:
Keep it. Keep it. Keep it. Keep it. Keep it.
This is organic New Haven art and deserves to be protected. I wish there was a way I could buy this from you. Would be proud to have something like this on my building. Truly special.
posted by: NewHavenJude on July 26, 2012 2:34pm
Beautiful art & a beautiful message! Please do NOT destroy it.