BANKSY DOES NEW YORK

About On October 1, 2013, the elusive street artist Banksy launched a month-long residency in New York, an art show he called Better Out Than In. As one new work of art was presented each day in a secret location, a group of fans, called “Banksy Hunters,” took to the streets and blew up social media. “You had art students, you had plumbers, you had gallery owners,” says Beth Stebner, a reporter who covered the residency for the Daily News. “[It] just brought New Yorkers out.” With installations in all five boroughs, Banksy illuminated issues of gentrification and ownership. “He made a treasure hunt where you needed to go and find something in the part of the city you've never been in before,” reflects Steve P. Harrington, founder of the Brooklyn Street Art Museum. Banksy placed a small stenciled beaver in the poverty-stricken neighborhood of East New York, inspiring a group of local residents to charge fans to take pictures of the work. “You wouldn't come here if this wasn't here,” argued one. “It's worth more to you that this is here than to me.” Adding to the thrill of the chase for Banksy fans was fact that they didn’t know if a work would be altered or removed by the time they arrived to see it. Local graffiti artists took to tagging over some of the pieces, sometimes in only a matter of minutes. “A lot of graffiti artists think that Banksy is a poser, that he sold out, that he is not authentic anymore because of his notoriety,” explains Stebner. Saul Zabar, owner of the beloved specialty food store Zabar’s, who had never heard of Banksy, decided to protect a Banksy work by putting plexiglass over it. Others, though, covered the art completely, hoping to avoid the chaos of onlookers. Banksy eventually drew the attention of Mayor Bloomberg, who stated that Banksy was defacing public and private property. The NYPD denied they were hunting Banksy, despite the press reporting otherwise; one day of the residency was canceled due to police intervention.

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