It’s summer time and the living is easy….and the Portsmouth Museum delivers up a show with "Street AKA Museum" that is worthy of the summer time seal of approval. This show has brought together street artists from around the world to do installations on the sides of buildings throughout the city.
I had a small amount of time to walk around the city hunting for these wall paintings so, admittedly, I only saw a few of them. (The museum is giving guided tours and has locations listed on their website.) The introduction of serendipity to my viewing made it feel like a treasure hunt. As I wandered the streets it was pure delight and amusement to discover the paintings. This is also one of the few museum displays that my dog, Henry, is welcome to view- made more inviting by the many water dishes left out by the downtown merchants.
While hardly a new idea it is refreshing to see a small city tackle a project that takes a certain amount of political will to make happen. There must have been a permitting process as these paintings probably qualify as signs. There was also some vocal public opposition to wall murals that deviated from the bland and acceptable historical depiction. Cathy Sununu, director of the Portsmouth Museum, must have done a fine job of explaining how courting controversy and keeping up with the cultural Joneses (or Berlins or Amsterdams or San Franciscos) helped to further Portsmouth’s image as a cultural leader in the state and drive tourist dollars to its merchants. There must have been support to make this sort of magic happen.
So grab your sunscreen and head to Portsmouth for a diverting day of art. Better yet- bring a friend and discuss the difference between art and grafitti. And definitely check out Clark’s Ice Cream on State Street.