The famous graffiti wall at Asylum, a club on the corner of Free and Center Streets in Portland, has seen a lot of spray paint, and sported a lot of tags and pictures, since it first got done up in the late 1990s.
For a while, it had famous characters from Stephen King’s stories painted on it. Pennywise the sadistic clown, Christine the murderous car and the goblin head from Maximum Overdrive all looked down into the alley.
Then, there was a version with a giant mushroom cloud and George W. Bush clutching a fist full of greenbacks.
These days, it hosts a take on an old postcard. It reads, “Greetings from… Portland, Maine.” Local street artist — and frequent artistic contributor to the wall — Mike Rich, organized it so each letter of the city’s name was done by a different paint propellant artist. The image of Portland Head Light (which is not in Portland, by the way) depicts the tower as a spray can, emitting a mist of paint instead of a beam of light. There’s a sea gull or two, as well.
But this current version will be the last.
Asylum hosted its final show for the time being on Saturday night. It’s now shut down and planning on expanding over the summer. The construction will, unfortunately, take down the famous wall.
Management at the club still plans on supporting street art, though. They’ve designated another wall on the building, which already shows a mural of comic book baddie Dr. Doom, as the new graffiti wall.
The brick exterior wall is much smaller and less impressive than the old one. But Asylum promises to add lighting for nighttime viewing and removable panels so artists can later sell their work instead of just spraying over it.
In the meantime, if you want to take a farewell gander at the original, king-size wall, you probably shouldn’t wait too long. Work on the building could start any day now.