LYNN — In 2001, three Lynn English High School students with a shared love of hip-hop and graffiti banded together to create art and leave their mark throughout the city. Taking their name from the Gang Starr song “Mass Appeal,” teenage graffiti writers Dono, Clear and Scan formed Lynn Mass Appeal (aka LMA).
By 2006, the crew had grown to include dozens of graffiti writers from several North Shore communities and other states. Its members continue to paint on buildings, railroad retaining walls and other outdoor surfaces here and in Florida, to the delight of some and consternation of others.
Saturday night, as part of the Beyond Walls Street Art Festival, a large group of LMA graffiti writers are reuniting to celebrate the life of Marblehead native Chris Knittle (aka Anser), a beloved, talented crew member who died last August. The festivities begin at 8 p.m. at the future site of The Launch waterfront container park at the now-unused ferry terminal on Blossom Street.
Lynn native and longtime crew member VenomLMA will serve as host and curator.
“It should be quite a night,” said VenomLMA, on the phone from his Florida home. “I’m getting all choked up just thinking of Chris. He’s deserving of this tribute.”
When Knittle died, the LMA crew painted a portrait of their friend on an exterior wall at the corner of Silsbee and Mt. Vernon streets downtown. Heartfelt graffiti written by his pals adorns the adjacent wall.
Peabody resident 3WAYS said three LMA graffiti writers had a profound influence on his work: Roger, Spire and Anser (Knittle). “They were all local North Shore kids, and once we saw their writing we wanted them in the crew,” said 3WAYS.
During a chat at Beyond Walls headquarters, LMA crew members Hiero Veiga, Nead2, Roger, esben rey, unknownknowitall and 3WAYS agreed that Anser is worthy of homage.
Veiga, who will also paint a wall at 52 Central Square, said the original plan was to have a friendly “Clash of the Cans” graffiti battle Saturday night, but the celebration of life tribute to Anser/Knittle was more in the spirit of the LMA crew’s foundation of “keeping it true and creating honest art.”
Roger said he and Anser painted together often. “What we did was graffiti. We’re not primarily mural artists. I miss the guy. He was talented.”
Nead2, whose colorful writing can be seen throughout Central Square, said meeting Roger, Spire and Anser got him involved in this form of creative expression. He also credits the pioneering Esay Krew (Lynners Temp & Relm) with providing much inspiration.
VenomLMA said graffiti by Temp, the godfather of Lynn graffiti in the ’80s and early ’90s, and protege/successor Relm, was omnipresent when he was in school. “I realized when I was living in East Lynn and at St. Mary’s High in the late ’90s, that Lynn was dotted with a lot of graffiti,” said VenomLMA. “Today, the work of LMA is all over the city. The murals and the street art by LMA and others has helped to transform Lynn.” He did a Beyond Walls project last year, restorating a mural on the back of Zimman’s Market Street store.
Sunday night at 6, a “Lynn Legends” exhibit featuring photos from Temp and other groundbreakers will be on display at Beyond Walls headquarters, 18 Mt. Vernon St.
The LMA crew accepts that their graffiti can disappear the day after they write it. Graffiti has as many foes as fans. Some view it as beautiful art, others as willful destruction of private property. The City of Lynn has a graffiti removal hotline. Other graffiti writers can write over a painting.
“It’s all temporary,” said Veiga. “I’m at peace with that.”
For more information on Saturday night’s celebration of Chris Knittle’s life, the “Lynn Legends” exhibit, and the 2019 Street Art Festival go to www.beyond-walls.org.