In the week after the raucous, fire-alarm-filled, basement-soaking Inappropriate Party, the Ladd House basement underwent an artistic transformation in the hands of Portland-based graffiti artist Tim Clorious. Clorious, known in the graffiti world as "Subone," is known for his signature style of graffiti realism.

Clorious's polar bear graffiti mural replaced the multi-wall Keith Haring-inspired mural of stick figures engaged in various party activities, including rarely noticed features such as passed out figures behind the bar and a Buddha serving drinks. After Ladd House members received permission from Residential Life to repaint the basement, they asked facilities to paint over the bright yellow walls with black, and Clorious came in to create his mural, which depicts a polar bear springing from a sea of geometric shapes on one of the basement walls.

Clorious, born and raised in Germany, received formal art training at the School of Visual Arts in New York and at the Maine College of Art in Portland. Working as both an aerosol artist and in more traditional mediums, including oil paint, he displays his work in galleries and exhibitions across the United States and Europe.

According to his Web site, Clorious sees graffiti art as a way "to enhance communities and foster civic engagement" and as a form of "visual and social 'hybridization' of more traditional forms of contemporary art."

Despite prior ideas of repainting, it was not until this fall that Ladd received official permission to repaint the basement. As soon as permission was received, Ladd house president Lucas O'Neill '12, along with resident Aaron Wolf '12, engaged house members in a conversation about ideas for the new mural.

The original conception of the mural called for a four-walled "winter wonderland scene," said Wolf, with "a ceiling of stars, glaciers, the northern lights and polar bears."

In the end, price limited the mural to one wall.

Wolf spearheaded the process, researching artists in the area, eventually finding Subone, finalizing ideas with Ladd residents, and then discussing these ideas with Subone, before negotiating a price for the work. Ladd eventually decided on a polar bear as the central feature of the mural and Wolf brought the idea to Subone.

Subone does not make initial sketches or plans for his commissioned art work; instead, he receives the request and launches into his interpretation. In other words, Ladd had no idea what might appear on their wall in a few short days.

Using only two thicknesses of nozzle and a wide variety of spray paints, Subone spent three days in the Ladd basement interpreting the house members' request in his own way.

What emerged was a large, "textured" polar bear surrounded by a profusion of geometric shapes in primary colors that stand out from the black background. In one bottom corner of the design is Subone's name and in the other is "2012," as a reminder of this year's class of Ladd House residents and their sponsorship of the mural.

Most Ladd residents were pleased with the finished product.

"At first we weren't sure how good he would be, but I was blown away by [Subone's] artistic ability and how he came up with such abstract shapes and designs," said Ladd House resident Matt Bezreh '12.

Fellow resident Barry Clarke '12 suggested that although the new mural "is an improvement on the old [mural], we hope that future residents will continue to add to it."

While other members of the house expressed some disappointment with the final product, the overall sentiment after the completion of the project was one of satisfaction for a basement rescued from a lifetime of Haring-style stick figures, replaced with a more Bowdoin-appropriate polar bear.

Clorious will be returning to the Bowdoin campus in February 2010 to give a lecture on the history and evolution of graffiti and his artistic style.