Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Duluth's Graffiti Graveyard

Wow! The Noid!
 This time of the year visitors to Duluth like to get a scary thrill out of visiting the Haunted Ship or the Haunted Shack. I say save your money and visit another site that's also a bit spooky but free! This free, spooky site is the Graffiti Graveyard. It's located just a short walk from other tourist attractions like Canal Park and the Depot, yet few tourists have ever visited it.

Since Noelle and I moved to Duluth over a year ago I had heard rumors of the Graffiti Graveyard and even read about it on Perfect Duluth Day. However, the location was never made clear to me, I always heard its location described as under I-35 off of Railroad Street. Well, yesterday on my way from the library to Canal Park to buy my mother a little Minnesota souvenir (which I never had time to do back in August when she was actually in Duluth visiting) I noticed a small creek that entered a concrete trough and flowed under the interstate. I decided to have a closer look.
Remember the .......

I hugged the concrete wall of an abutment on a narrow ledge, found some rocks on which to place my feet for fording a small section of creek, then climbed up an old metal piece that made a good, if unofficial, ladder. When I climbed the section of wall holding the creek in its artificial banks I entered a man-made canyon of concrete just covered on its sides by graffiti.

There's something about graffiti that has always fascinated me. Growing up near Philadelphia, I would always see the scrawlings on the walls of buildings in the city and was mesmerized. I think the graffiti represented a different world to me. A place that was so close to where I lived and grew up, yet so different. I just didn't see much graffiti in my neighborhood. Lord knows there was plenty of graffiti in Philly to look at while riding in the car. In fact, Philadelphia is often credited with being the birthplace of modern graffiti. While some graffiti is just plain ugly and destructive, I believe that some graffiti can be artistic and even beautiful.

I think there is definitely an artistic factor to most of the graffiti in the Graffiti Graveyard. You can tell a lot of time and planning went into some of it. The other factor that the Graveyard has in its favor is the fact that it is basically a hidden world where the graffiti does not desecrate someone's private property. There's really no reason to go back into the graveyard unless you're there to see the graffiti or create it. Therefore, I don't think that anyone should really be offended or bothered by it.
Guns don't kill people,

spooky spray-painted skulls do.

Finally, the graffiti in the Graffiti Graveyard is constantly changing. It is like a gallery that is constantly bringing in new exhibitions. Yet, I get the feeling that some of the works contained in the Graffiti Graveyard are such works of art that the artists who come after respect the skill and work that has gone into creating it and as a result leave it for others to appreciate. I know I look forward to visiting again in a few months to see how the display has changed.
What an inviting campsite!

As I mentioned earlier though, the Graffiti Graveyard is a bit of a spooky place. I'm not really sure what it is about the place, but it kind of gave me the creeps. Part of the feeling is no doubt generated by the low sections of highway which form a roof over a few of the galleries. The ones that are really low are impossible to look into to see what's going on. I got the impression there could be some deranged derelict waiting for me to approach so that he could grab my ankles and drag me under with hum. However, the real creepiness factor comes from knowing that the gallery is illegal, and if this much illegal graffiti activity goes on down there seemingly undetected, who knows what other illegal activities take place there.
Yum, Left hand Milk Stoudt

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