by Paul Spencer
A local stencil artist may have lost thousands of dollars worth of art, thanks to Haxall Point, a restaurant which closed in July. Anthony Aspero had loaned a dozen canvases to the bar, with sales split 70/30. He says a Haxall Point manager called three weeks after the business closed, to say that a landlord would get in touch about accessing the art.
But the call never came. Aspero says the landlord hasn’t returned calls, and that Haxall Point’s phone number is no longer in service. Aspero estimates the collection is worth around $7,000. One stencil, titled “Getty Museum,” took over 150 hours to make and was a finalist for the 2014 World Stencil Art Prize.
“I got a hold of site management last week and they told me everything had been disposed of, so the space could be shown to prospective renters,” says Aspero in an email.
A self-professed workaholic, Aspero isn’t one to give up. So he scouted the restaurant this week, and spotted his Getty Museum stencil through a window. He took a picture and alerted a security guard about his intentions. Again, Aspero got the runaround. After a brief walkie-talkie chat, the guard took Aspero’s phone number and said that someone would get back to him.
It’s not certain whether other paintings are inside the building, or if Aspero will ever get one back. A Haxall Point manager told Aspero that he last saw the paintings stacked in a back room. But management has largely been uncooperative, and appears to have been locked out of the building as well, according to Aspero.
Aspero says that the stencil he can see through the window is his “pride and joy.” He began stenciling as a hobby over a decade ago, initially inspired by Banksy and Logan Hicks. Now it’s more of an artistic calling, he says. All of Aspero’s stencils are made by hand, usually on paper or mylar.
“Just knowing that at least one of the pieces is still around gives me hope that the others are in there as well,” he says. “Or at least in good condition somewhere that they can be retrieved.”