This summer's edgy exhibition in Portsmouth is pushing boundaries and not everyone is lovin' it.Graffiti - that's what painting on buildings or vehicles is generally called. But there are artists, like the internationally recognized ones represented here, whose talents and creativity have pushed street art to a whole new dimension.You can experience that dimension first-hand in Portsmouth right now. There's an exhibition, called "Street a.k.a. Museum," that features street art both at The Portsmouth Museum of Art and out in the city, mostly on the walls of buildings. Guided tours are offered for the outdoor display, which lasts until September 11.For some, though, September can't come soon enough. Angry residents signed a petition asking the City Council to have a public hearing and/or discussion with the Arts Council before "they inflict their next display upon the residents of the city." The city attorney had ruled that the city couldn't regulate the current display because there were no ordinances that applied. As one city official said, "We don't regulate paint."Cathy Sununu, the museum's executive director, says, "It's adventurous subject matter in a not-very-urban state, and in a small city like Portsmouth it has a big impact. But to show it only in museums doesn't help us understand its complexity. It's not in its intended context."Sununu adds that the museum is non-profit and not limited by the same kind of commercial restraints as a gallery. "Our primary role is to educate and encourage discourse and discussion around art. Every exhibition we present serves to meet that objective."For more information and a list of outdoor mural locations, visit www.portsmouthmfa.org.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine