The Lost Boys of Monmouth

Monmouth, IL – In 2008, taggers left their mark on a wall at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth. Instead of getting angry, Director Susan Twomey taped a note to the wall.

"I told them I appreciated their use of color and form," says Twomey. "And that I thought they had enough creative talent that we could do something constructive."

The taggers were told to show up and see her if they were interested. In a leap of faith, they did show up. Now, one of those taggers is working on a mural at the arts center and his life is headed in a better direction.

Bobby Hall acknowledges he might still be causing trouble if he did not get involved with the arts center. "I'd probably be in jail," says Hall.

Instead, he's working a full-time job and hopes to take some college classes to work on his painting technique.

Twomey says that's an example of how art can be a vehicle for change. She says that's not the only change that's taken place.

"People have changed their attitude towards the taggers, and the taggers have changed their attitude towards the people who were harassing them," says Twomey.

Hall is working on the mural with friend and fellow artist Tiffany Davis. The piece remains a work in progress because both Hall and Davis are busy with other obligations. In addition, materials are hard to come by, though some businesses have donated paint and other supplies.

Still, Twomey is happy with the way things are working out. "I couldn't be more proud of them," she says.

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