Posts Tagged ‘streetart’

Good Neighbor’s Lamentation Society

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

INDIVIDUAL: A good neighbor
GROUP SIZE: Undetermined, possibly in the thousands
NATURE OF GROUP: Long-time residents and homeowners, new residents and home owners, real estate agents, investors, developers, architects, city and urban planners, local government officials, demolition crews, contractors and day laborers, local newspaper journalists, and anti-gentrification activists
INCIDENCE: The Good Neighbor’s Lamentation Society

It broke our hearts to leave you,
But you did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home
– From the shrine for 3115 West 19th Avenue


3115 West 19th Avenue – on life support
3115 West 19th Avenue – in memoriaum

Dear Friends, we are gathered to celebrate and remember the lives of our good friends and neighbors 1815 Grove Street, 3115 West 19th Avenue, 1925 Hooker Street, 1935 Hooker Street, 1821 Irving Street, and 1828 Julian Street. I came to know these neighbors through frequent walks around our neighborhood as I nodded hello, remarked either to myself or my companion about their appearance or allowed my dog to curiously sniff their landscaping (or lack thereof). Over the years, our relationship never grew close but instead yielded to a comfortable familiarity – like that of a good neighbor.

Over the years, as new residents moved in and old ones moved out, each neighbor stayed true to their humble beginnings. Sure, some may have added a satellite dish, a chain-link fence, a swing set or a stained mattress over the years to enhance their external appearance but as their other neighbors fell prey to the whims of fashion these stalwarts remained true. They may have received a fresh coat of paint from time to time (or not) but they never lost the sense of who they were. Our neighbors were homes where children played, where families laughed, where tuckpointing was neglected, and yard work went undone. And they weren’t just our neighbors but they were also part of the larger Denver community who had largely overlooked our neighborhood until very recently.

First came the “Coming Soon” or “For Sale” signs. Memories of the last recession were still fresh in our community and we blithely laughed at the idea of our neighborhood becoming “an urban oasis right in the center of it all.” Then came the tiny plastic flags and unintelligible spray-painted symbols in front yards. The previous inhabitants would move out yet, strangely, no one else would move in. Next came the plastic orange mesh fences. That is when we knew the situation had become dire. The new owners, investors and developers mostly, did what they could to make our neighbors comfortable. They removed garbage and glass, boarded up windows, and even in some terminal cases excised trees, but at this point we knew our neighbors were just a shell of their former selves. There was nothing more that could be done. It was time to prepare for the end.

Just as we shall never know the hour God will call us home, so it is with Denver demolition crews. Without warning, where once your neighbor stood, a home was now rendered unto dust.

Some feel our neighbors’ lives had been lost too soon and believed that their aging bones and sagging foundations still pulsed with vitality. They could still see their beauty, even in their last years of neglect, when others could not. Their grief was raw but understandable. Some are moved to organize and form movements to prevent future losses. Others accept these losses as merely a part of urban life. Others still just complain. In these varied reactions what is universal is their pain. Together we all grieve. This is why, we, The Good Neighbors Lamentation Society, have chosen to memorialize our neighbors. May our memories give us strength and these shrines bring us peace.


1815 Grove Street – in memoriaum


1821 Irving Street – in memoriaum

Findings and Final Report:

Metro Denver’s population growth has outpaced national growth rates since the 1930s. By 2020, Metro Denver’s population is anticipated to increase from 2.8 million to more than 3.3 million. Large tracts of the city are undergoing wholesale urban renewal, which is especially pronounced on the city’s West Side.

The Good Neighbor’s Lamentation Society performed services for six demolished houses in the gentrifying West Colfax neighborhood. The neighborhood’s rapid change raised many concerns among long-time residents and activists alike. At the core of the controversy is the rezoning and redevelopment of residential lots that result in many older, single-family homes being demolished. Concerned residents and activists argue that this wave of redevelopment has threatened the character of their neighborhoods and erased the history of old Denver. Developers and pro-growth residents argue that the redevelopment has allowed long-time area homeowners to cash out on an inventory of largely unexceptional, 1950s starter homes, many of which were in disrepair. The demolition of these original structures opens up large urban lots perfect for building high-density, multifamily townhomes that cater to the tastes of affluent home buyers who are increasingly flocking to urban areas.

As longtime neighborhood residents, members of The Good Neighbor’s Lamentation Society have mixed feelings watching their neighborhood change so dramatically. While our sympathies lie with displaced residents and we abhor the slapped together, Brutalist box-like architecture of new Denver, the activists who are decrying change often fail to acknowledge how rundown and, dare we say, undesirable the neighborhood has been for years – often due to the neglect of those very same displaced residents and derelict slumlords.

As artists, we have not sought to make a loud political statement but have instead sought to create a quiet and contemplative memorial. The purpose of activism is to get the largest number of people possible behind a unified message. The purpose of art is to elicit an emotional response from a singular viewer that may engender critical thinking and pose questions instead of answering them. While The Good Neighbor’s Lamentation Society was formed to memorialize properties – not proselytize against change – our sincerest hope is that all of our neighbors, new and long-time residents alike, are able to have a safe and affordable place to call home.

And when I go and prepare a place for you
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may also be.
John 14:1-3
– From the shrine for 1828 Julian St.



This report was written by Heather Link-Bergman.
All photos by Heather Link-Bergman

A version of this report was featured at is EMANCIPATION, Sociometry Fair 2016, in Los Angeles, California and was originally published in is EMANCIPATION The Institute of Sociometry at 21. This report was also published in Raw Fury #4.



Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

GROUP SIZE: 11 – individuals fronting vast corporations with hundreds if not thousands of additional individuals. This is an estimate due to individuals deploying dummy phone numbers and possibly even aliases.


ABATOR in a SoHi alleyway, Denver 

NATURE OF GROUP: Eddie Mowrer, Hunter Hinson, Seth Taylor, Benjamin Olssen, and a half dozen unidentified agents representing the following corporate entities; Networth Realty, SWT Management, REcolorado, Move Out Move On, We Buy Ugly Houses, and MD Home Acquisitions. This study group is comprised of front men using an off-grid advertising scheme of hand-lettered yard-wicket signs in the west Denver neighborhood of South Highlands (SoHi), even masquerading as local yokels, to offer cash for houses or investment properties for sale, presumably to developers. The property investment corporations behind these men are looking to snatch up cheap single family homes on large lots. Dozens of lots in the study area have been, are being, (or are vacated to eventually be) scraped and replaced with densely packed 500k three-story town houses.
INCIDENCE: #ABATOR #corporate #graffiti #abatement”

“They buy ’em cheap and stack ’em deep.” 
– SoHi resident Heather Link-Bergman
on the developers who are scraping and
rebuilding her West Denver neighborhood.


Seth Taylor signs – 1700 Federal Blvd.

Denver is adding 20,000 new residents a year and projecting one million more residents in the next ten years. Housing demand is being met by infilling industrial and vacant lots and scraping houses in economically depressed areas to make way for multi-unit buildings. SoHi, the study area for this report, which includes parts of the West Colfax, Cheltenham Heights, Jefferson Park, Hallack Park, and Sloan’s Lake neighborhoods, is immediately west of downtown and south of the affluent Highlands. A hundred years ago this part of town was a Jewish ghetto and the childhood home of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. The long-demolished “largest Synagogue west of the Mississippi” is now the site of Mi Pueblo Market and an 80% abandoned derelict shopping plaza. For much of the latter 20th century, until the current property boom, it’s been a barrio of Juarez transplants. The commercial sections of Federal and West Colfax are dismal, peppered with gravely, weed choked vacant lots, B-list fast food spots, flop-house hotels, and stucco taquerias.  


Mi Pueblo Market, 3200 W. Colfax

The development of abandoned St Anthony’s Hospital on the shore of Sloan Lake, is projected to accommodate an additional 25,000 residents to just this neighborhood! That’s a year’s supply of new Denver residents! A new west light rail line is driving city planning around increased density parallel to West Colfax. Adjacent neighborhoods are undergoing rapid in-fill and wholesale urban renewal. Slum lords barely up on their property taxes, unsold foreclosures from the recession, and longtime residents looking to cash out are feeding a frenzy of property speculation and slap-dash construction.

A massive duplex is being built on a former vacant lot ten-feet from an El Azteca, North Side Mafia safe-house that’s regularly monitored by undercover Denver detectives. A squalid brick row house with five 1-bedroom units and kids toys spilling out onto the lawn nestles in a canyon between massive 3-story buildings with six 450k condos being nail-gunned together in great haste. A longtime resident with a DIY cinder block fence and a large corner lot, who likes to day-drink 24-packs of Bud Lite Límon with his buddies out front listening to accordion and polka jams, has his 3-bedroom oak-and-brass barrio jewel on the market – with the house next to it included – for 650k.




Joe, aka Move Out Move On
Inc., 2500 W 26th Ave., Denver with a bonus Hunter Hinson sign

The yard-wicket signs used by the front men are a way of cutting through the clutter of traditional advertising and communicating in a high-volume cash business where opportunities are fly-by-night. Some signs have a fictitious personae, “Joe Buys Houses As-Is” or they cut the pretense with “I Buy Houses Any Condition CA$H”. Some are aimed at an internal audience of other brokers and developers, “80% ARV ALL IN”. Some of the listed phone numbers have people on the other end – the men named in the study group. The number often goes to a voicemail for one of the named corporate entities. All are able to buy your property “as-is” in cash. “As-is” can mean gutted and boarded up with all the copper plumbing stripped out, or with a plume of abandoned mattresses and furniture erupting off the porch, into the yard, all buried in snow.


“As-is” condition house


Starting in the 500’s”

Many of the corporate entities and named individuals seem to have tenuous contacts to Denver – a satellite office, a recent transplant with a minimal online presence. Signs list multiple google-voice numbers with default-setting voicemail greetings. There’s Hunter Hinson’s almost perfect unintentional self-parody and/or fake facebook page of duck-faced selfies and white BMW snaps ( Seth Taylor has a confident headshot and title on his LinkedIn, “Foreclosure Servicing, Property Preservation, Realtor”. There’s circumstantial evidence of actual residence in Tennessee or Houston. These men are not out placing the signs – that is outsourced to minions. This agent observed an owl faced man in a driver cap placing several signs at Colfax and Irving at 7am on a Wednesday morning.

Individuals in the study group comprise a community with it’s own language, signifiers, and public hand-lettered communications. Not unlike gang or graffiti tags, these signs advertise territory. Six figure transactions in cash arranged with sharpies. $500 worth of ad space on the adjacent bus bench for a $20 blank sign from Ace Hardware. They have developed a method of off-grid advertising by utilizing corporate graffiti.


2380 W Colfax and 5200 W 17th Ave.

Into this group-dynamic sashays ABATOR – a west side vandal with a lot of flat gray primer. Beginning in late fall and now into spring ALL of the yard-wicket signs in the SoHi study area have been abated on a weekly basis. This agent has photographed 24 distinct sign abatements. During this time several broker agents have resorted to affixing signs onto wood telephone polls 9ft off the ground – requiring a slight change in tactics.

ABATOR is an shadowy figure, never adding any commentary aside from a 15 second helium-voiced instagram statement and hashtag manifestos, “#ABATOR #declareswar #recolorado #broker #benjaminolsen #fixandflip #yardsigns #westside #gentrification #denver #corporate #graffiti #vandalism #abatement.”


3300 W 29th Ave.

An abated sign picture which got a heart from @cityofdenver and a comment, “#denver is where it’s AT” were met with a responce that give us a window into the mind-set of this vigilante-vandal:

@cityofdenver thank you for your comment on my photo. Unfortunately Denver is no longer ‘where it’s AT’ for low income residents of Jefferson Park, West Colfax and Cheltenham Heights who are being forced into Lakewood by rapacious property development. We need more affordable housing on the west side – not a race to replace every modest single family home with four 400k luxury town homes! But yea – glad you commented on my photo of abated fix and flip signs so we had this chance to talk. #ABATOR”


ABATOR changing tactics. 


ABATOR is not on the internet but she does borrow our burner to instagram her abatements @is.pressThis report was originally published in Raw Fury #3



For more art-interventions surrounding the gentrification of SoHi see the This Could Be Here, and Area of Change reports.

Area Of Change

Friday, February 21st, 2014

INDIVIDUAL: West-side tagger in their threatened native habitat
GROUP SIZE: Estimates of up to 20,000
NATURE OF GROUP: New residents in the market for homes starting in the high $400s!!
INCIDENCE: Area of Change 

///// UPDATE 03.13.14 ~ scroll to bottom ///// 

Trails of taggers wind like tentacles through SoHi, a traditionally working-class neighborhood off of West Colfax, as the condo curtain descends from the north flattening homes all the way to 17th Avenue. Scrappy two-bedroom bungalows in the low $200s with huge yards, Wal-Mart trampolines, and eroding dog-couches, are being razed n’ replaced with four-per-lot town-homes starting at $450k.

See all tags and properties on a map!

1700 Hooker St., From google earth, image from approx. summer 2013

1700 Hooker St.,winter 2014

Starting in the $440’s. (The house in google earth would be approx. $200k.)

Architecturally rendered block-row buildings with Sketchup drawn Porsches out front anchor splashy banners with real-estate agent numbers. Pre-Sale Available! 

In January of 2014 neighborhood tags were photographed, re-drawn in vector, skewed on a perspective grid, and cut into sticky-vinyl. The faithfully rendered tags now deface the vinyl-banner walls of this rendered utopian future. Coming soon!

///// UPDATE 03.13.14 ///// 


The sign at 1820 Julian that was adorned with vinyls of our IS tag, and an appropriated NVSK tag and bubbly SL throw-up was called out by tagger SKULZB – “YOU AINT KREUU FEULL”, with an adjacent NVSK tag.

Our interpretation of this message is multi-tiered; NVSK is clearly a crew as opposed to an individual, and they are calling out IS for stealing their tag without being in the crew (an offense punishable by punching and stabbing). SKULZB correctly crossed out our IS and the appropriated NVSK but left the SL – apparently there’s no beef with SL. On a deeper layer, SKULZB, as a representative of the NVSK crew, has further defiled the utopian dream of the $400,000 townhouses coming soon to 1820 Julian by completely bombing the hypothetical building with implicit threats. More importantly, SKULZB has followed our established precedent by mapping their personal and crew tag onto the architectural perspective of the building drawing.

Now that NVSK has been alerted to the interloper on their streets we suspect to see more cross outs and tags on the other coming soon signs that were modified during round one. To draw a metaphor, it is as if we strewed chum in the waters surrounding this luxury yacht and it is starting to attract sharks.

ThIS report was originally released in the form of  4×4 ft info-collage at
Contact the MSU Denver Art Faculty Show
Center for Visual Art, 965 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204