Fairhope Graffiti

Fairhope has traditionally been known as an “artists’ colony,” so I guess it should come as no surprise that even its graffiti are arty. The significance of them, however, so far escapes me.

Some months ago, I noticed this utility box on Fairhope Avenue:

At some later point, I began seeing the upper owl stencil on the backs of STOP signs around town:

I intended to take photos and blog about this at the time but hadn’t gotten around to it. Then I started noticing that someone had begun to obliterate the owls by painting over them with metallic paint, with varying success:

Alarmed, I decided I had better document the phenomenon before it vanished entirely, so I took my camera with me on my walk yesterday. To my surprise, the first “decorated” sign I found had a new stencil:

As can be seen, this stencil has also been added to the only remaining owl-stenciled sign. Furthermore, the next STOP sign I came to had this one:

I have no idea what any of this means. Gangs marking their territory? It would be a bit of a stretch to imagine a gang named the Owls, but Butterflies? Seems hardly likely. In addition, the meaning of the rather drippy ambigram (which seems to say “sapeades”) is totally unfathomable. I await enlightenment!

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4 Responses to Fairhope Graffiti

  1. CoolCoops says:

    Hi! Stumbled onto your blog whilst reading in bed.

    How are the backs of the stop signs doing?

    I’d check myself…….. But the weather over here, whilst not as bad as on your side of the pond, prevents me from doing so….

    Interested UK resident!

  2. No changes so far on the signs I photographed. There’s a new mystery, however: stop signs on another street with what appears to be “OSS” stenciled upside-down on the back. I’m not sure I want to go there (the OSS was the forerunner to the CIA).

  3. Skenvoy says:

    Those stencils your seeing are really just art, their typically done for aesthetic appreciation and not in reference to gangs. The ones you’ve photographed are just nice graffiti, down under in Melbourne Aus theirs heaps of these stencils everywhere and their completely separate to gang graffiti.

    Stencils themselves seem to be a more artistic versions of tagging. Graffiti is usually in reference to gangs, its mostly written in code and are typically colorful and impressive. Tagging is merely writing your name on everything you can and is basically just signing things with black marker over and over again. Stenciling has the mentality of tagging, getting your work seen around the place, while actually having artistic merit.

  4. Since I gather that English is not your native language, perhaps you failed to appreciate that the post was written tongue-in-cheek. In any case, “graffiti” doesn’t necessarily have a gang connotation in the United States.

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