A Whaler On Loose In Harbor

Graffiti artist’s harpoon targets village icons
Graffiti whales painted by an anonymous vandal have appeared around Sag Harbor, including, above, on the vacant Schiavoni plumbing building, in front of the WLNG radio station, top right, and the rear of the Getty station, right. Carrie Ann Salvi Photos

    Over a dozen whales ranging from 3 to 12 feet have been spotted around Sag Harbor, in the form of painted graffiti. The unknown artist or artists have been at work since early this month, when neon-colored whales began to appear on various buildings throughout the village, and even between Larry Rivers’s “Legs” sculpture on the side of Vered and Janet Lehr’s house.
    Other victims have included the Old Whalers Church, Apple Bank, WLNG, the John Jermain Memorial Library, and the vacant Schiavoni plumbing building. Some of the property owners or managers have let the smiling creatures stick around, others are less accommodating, and some are quite concerned.
    At the John Jermain Memorial Library, for example, it took a dangerous nighttime climb upon and relocation of two-story scaffolding to paint the four whales that appeared on protective construction sheathing.
    Other ground-level work, such as the bright orange, head-phoned whale that was reported last week by WLNG radio station on Redwood Road, has been met with a chuckle. “You got whaled,” is the new term about town, said Chris Buckhout, who reported the incident to police.
    Gary Sapiane, the station’s president, took a few seconds off the air on “Swap and Shop” Tuesday to say “I think it looks smart with the headphones on.” Mr. Buckhout added his own art to the design, in the form of a bumper sticker that said, “Another WLNG Listener.”
    “I think we will keep it for a while,” he said, thankful that the whale is on wood, which can be easily repainted.
    Anthony Baker, an employee at the Getty Station, reported a 12-foot blue whale with orange spots on the rear of the Getty Station the same day. “I think it’s cool,” he said on Tuesday. “My boss doesn’t know about it yet.”
    According to New York State penal law, each act of making graffiti is a class A misdemeanor, defined in part by etching, painting, covering, drawing upon or otherwise placing of a mark upon [. . .] without the express permission of the owner or operator of said property.”
    Sag Harbor Village Sergeant Paul Fabiano is on the case, and has been comparing “tags” often used by graffiti artists. Anyone with information about the vandalism has been asked to call the village’s police department.


Sorry to nit pick, but "Graffiti artists"? Aren't they "graffiti vandals" because they mark up property without permission? And for that matter, graffiti is done for fame, visibility, and the rush or excitement the graffiti writer experiences doing something for which they might get caught. As described at www.DefacingAmerica.com , we don't have an art problem. We have a serious and growing vandalism problem. Graffiti prevention and control requires graffiti laws that provide meaningful penalties, prompt removal of tags and other vandalism, and preventative education. Kids are exposed to graffiti vandalism by other kids who don't realize how harmful graffiti is. These whales may look cute now, but they have a recruiting influence on children who may not have the same talent level. Eventually, utility boxes, traffic signs, lamp posts, building walls and fences all become the targets of taggers.