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Graffiti a sign of identity

While these two may no longer be together, this graffiti is displayed on a wall found in an alley on West Street.
While these two may no longer be together, this graffiti is displayed on a wall found in an alley on West Street.

I was a young lad when I first defaced private property.

It was the second summer after high school — which isn’t that young, I know, but it’s younger than I am now — and I had a desire for delinquency.

There was no particular reason behind it other than being completely bored in small-town Newfoundland.

It was probably 9:30 p.m. when a couple of friends and I decided the best way to solve our mutual boredom would be to deface one of the local Bay Roberts malls.

Choosing the one where we thought it’d have the greatest effect and draw the most eyeballs, we started the car and began our journey.

It didn’t take long before we found the target. It was the back wall of the building facing Port de Grave.

Stepping out of the vehicle, I grabbed my weapon and decided on an attack plan.

Then I started and in bright white spray paint, I scrawled the words “Porno Loves You.”

I took a couple steps back to admire my artistic expression and then took off. Job done.

It wasn’t particularly imaginative. It was childish. It was kind of just there.

Why did I tell you this?

Well, there’s two reasons: one reason is I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on my crime, so admitting to my misconduct, hopefully, will have no undue effect on my freedom.

The other reason is I think street art — not what I had done — plays an important part in a modern cityscape.

Graffiti is a vital part of any cityscape. It contains a piece of that city’s identity.

Just like natural layout, downtown attractions and recreation complex’s help people connect to the character of a place, so too does street art.

When it’s done right, it adds more to than it subtracts from a city’s identity.

That identity isn’t contained in “Becky Was Here” or “Choose Death.”

More so, it’s in the imagination street artists put into their craft.

It’s how they see their environment and express that environment through their art.

It’s fascinating to see a mural or imaginative piece on a downtown wall take on a life of its own.

So, why take you on this long diatribe about street art and its place in the world?

Well, I’m trying to find Corner Brook’s most famous piece of graffiti. I want to track down who did it and why.

I want to tell the story of how a piece of art became synonymous with one place.

Graffiti is as much about identity as it is about art.

Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at nmercer@cbncompass.ca.

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