Better Out Than In: Britain’s Banksy Hops Across the Pond
Today marks the tenth day of British street artist Banksy’s “residency on the streets of New York.” The artist’s website proudly declares that his famous—some might say infamous—work will be surfacing on the streets of the city that never sleeps for the month of October. The exhibit is titled Better Out Than In.
So far, there has been a new piece on a wall or vehicle every day—with the exception of the day when Banksy posted an ambiguous but clearly opinionated YouTube video on the Syrian War to his site. Among the street art is an intricately detailed rainforest scene in the back of an old delivery truck, the addition of the words “The Musical” to random graffiti around the city (ex. “Occupy! The Musical”) and the popular “THIS IS MY NEW YORK ACCENT … normally I write like this” spray-painting (below) on the Westside. All pieces are viewable on the street artist’s website and are now accompanied by a numbered tag, and a tongue-in-cheek audio component accessible by Banksy’s 800 number, 1-800-656-4271.
More than a week in, and it seems as if the city of New York hasn't yet decided how to respond to Banksy’s pieces. While the first was painted over within 24 hours—as the satirical American voice at the other end of the 800 number predicted—others are rapidly being removed from their original locations to auction. This presents an interesting dilemma; some wonder if—in such a cultured city—removing the murals is preservation of art or its destruction. According to The Guardian, Bristol's City Council polled citizens a few years ago about Banksy's art, and 97 percent voted that when a Banksy image appeared in public domain, it should remain.
While this conundrum is certainly one to mull over, this may be a good time to recognize some of Albuquerque’s own great street art, sanctioned and otherwise. Albuquerque, another city rich in art and culture, has long integrated street art into the urban landscape. Three years ago, 516 Arts hosted an event called STREET ART: A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture and Free Expression, which left street murals around downtown Albuquerque. Participating artists included Chris Stain, who left a large painting of a solemn, silhouetted working man at Second and Central. Native Burqueño Ernest Doty was charged as the controversial, anonymous Rainbow Warrior, a street artist who spilled smile-inducing spectrums over buildings across the city. At least one of these rainbows remain untouched; whether that's due to cultural appreciation or inability to cover them up, I couldn’t say.
For more street works around the Duke City, check out the Street Art Albuquerque Facebook Page, which includes photos of acrylic and spray-painted works and the streets where they’re located. And to keep up with Banksy’s exhibit from the Duke City, visit the site or check out the #banskyny tag on Instagram.