We just got back from a viewing of the most recent street art by British street artist Banksy as part of his “Better Out Than In” October residency in New York City. Banksy’s latest work was put up earlier today on a roller shutter covering the entrance to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club & Lounge, a strip club in the NYC neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, on Manhattan’s west side. The street artwork is titled “Waiting in Vain at the Door of the Club.”
Today marks Banksy’s 24th Day in NYC, where he has released a new artwork every day of the month except for Wednesday October 23rd, when it was reported on his website Banksyny.com that that day’s street art event had been cancelled “due to police activity.”
There was a bit of a circus and mini-mob scene at the site of the strip club street art piece as dozens upon dozens of people angled themselves in a scrum of bodies and iPhones to get a view of the stencil street art piece and snap photos. A trio of bouncers stood by protecting the artwork (and/or the club property), and it wasn’t clear if they were affiliated with the club, the artist or both. At one point, one of the bouncers got really surly with a viewer who was clearly trying to overstep the bounds to get a close-up photo. Meanwhile a reporter and his crew shot a video report nearby. And down the block, a guy was selling what seemed like unofficial Banksy merchandise (Banksy magnets) out of a garage.
The location of this Banksy street art is the northeast corner of W. 51st Street and West Side Highway (a.k.a., 12th Avenue).
This is the kind of wonderful New York City moment we cherish. New York Magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz offers and impromptu art talk about Banksy’s recent street art piece on New York City’s Upper West Side.
We revisited the site of the Banksy 9/11 street art stencil in TriBeCa, in New York City, this past weekend. There was again a crowd of between a half-dozen and a dozen people viewing the artwork and — yet again — another argument was unfolding between a visitor and a local resident.
Somebody had installed a plexiglass cover over Banksy’s work to protect it from vandalism (ironic, right?), and residents in the apartment building across the narrow street were keeping a watchful, protective eye on the work. One of the residents admonished a viewer who was trying to remove the plexiglass and a heated argument between them ensued. The viewer argued that the plexiglass should be removed so that people can appreciate an unobstructed view of the work and see it as it was intended. The resident argued it should be protected and noted that already several people had tried to smash the cover by throwing bricks at it, hence the cracked plexiglass. Eventually the visitor walked off muttering that Banksy’s artwork “is just graffiti.”
Both people had a point. Their arguments underscore just how much of all of this is subject to debate given the circumstances and that the artwork is at once vandalism, illegal, ephemeral and of artistic, cultural significance.
We just caught up with the first Banksy truck, the one with the “mobile” garden” (a diorama-like nature scene with waterfall, rainbows, etc.) installed in the back of the vehicle, parked at the comer of Bleecker and Thompson streets in New York’s Greenwich Village. The mobile garden truck rolled out on October 5th, Day 5 of Banksy’s month-long New York City street-art show “Better In Than Out.” More pix to follow shortly. Stay tuned.