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Wednesday
May122010

Street Artist Banksy Tags Detroit

Do you remember the other day when I briefly mentioned Banksy, the street artist from Bristol, England? Well, much to my delight, I found this article late Monday evening from the Metro Times that broke the story that Banksy tagged Detroit.

This excited me beyond words!

I have been a fan of Banksy since hearing about him when I moved to the UK years ago. I still regret that in the 5 years that I lived there that I had never happened upon or looked for his work.

So, with cross-streets in hand and the rain heaving down, my husband and I went on a Banksy hunt yesterday.

We first went to the location of the Tightrope Rat in Warren, Michigan (on the west side of Van Dyke between Anna and Gerald).

We knew which building we were looking for, it's the only industrial building at that location, but we drove around the block for a good 20 minutes before we noticed it. I guess it was smaller than I expected and it blends in pretty well.

Did I mention it that it was pouring cats and dogs? Oh, and there was a huge puddle a few feet from the Tightrope Rat. Standing on the edge of the puddle, I attempted to take my first photo of a Banksy.

And at that point, a few semi trucks decided to drive through the puddle soaking my husband and I from head to toe. As my gentlemanly husband tried to shield me from the tidal wave, I did my best to protect my camera.

Here is Tightrope Rat by Banksy:

The chain tightrope that the rat is walking on is an actual chain, it isn't part of the painting.

And here is a close-up that shows the gold glitter, star shaped glasses that the Tightrope Rat dons.

We then headed further south to see our second Banksy of the day (at the Circle Cleaners on the west side of Van Dyke between Milton and Palmetto in Detroit).

This is Diamond Girl.

Look again at the first known picture of Diamond Girl from the Metro Times and then look back at my photos. They chiseled out all the bricks around her. Someone was trying to steal her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late last night, I found this post on Twitter:

You can see from this picture that Banksy’s Diamond Girl in Detroit isn’t there anymore. This had to have happened only hours after we left.

Sadness set in.

Yes, there’s the possibility that someone took Diamond Girl to keep her in tact but I won’t believe it till I see it.

There is one more Banksy in Detroit, “I remember when all this was trees” was at the crumbling Packard Plant. I’m not sure where it is now. It seems the people from the 555 Gallery have removed it to preserve it.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I saw a tweet earlier that said something like “Stay away from my city, Banksy.” I, however, am proud that he thought of us, that he decided to stop in Detroit.

Yes, it might just be a PR stunt to promote his movie, “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” but I look at it from a different perspective. I had to go to the UK to find the love of my life and I had to return to Detroit to see my first Banksy. These things happen.

I’m hoping that the graffiti, street, or urban artists (whatever they call themselves) show some respect. Please don’t tag over Tightrope Rat. Banksy’s work has given your genre respect; don’t take that away.

"Exit Through The Gift Shop" is now playing at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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Reader Comments (18)

Well-done, Becks. Art, urban culture, travel, chivalry and fortuitous timing . . . linked together like Tightrope Rat's chain.

And even a touch of Moxie philosophy as your tag:

These things happen

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

So...that's how you got soaked! Great stuff :)

And more interesting that my I-fell-in-the-mud-and-slid-down-a-hill-trying-to-photograph-a-covered-bridge story :lol:

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

555 did not take the diamond girl piece. It was a shock to us all to see it gone. 555's intent is to preserve a piece of art that would've fallen victim to scrappers. The "i remember" piece was recovered and is intact and should be ready for viewing soon.

cheers!

billyvoo

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbillyvoo

Wow! What an honor for Detroit! I am looking forward to seeing my first real Banksy. Thanks for the great story and sorry about the dousing. We must all suffer for our art ;)

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer R

Alan, Dominique, and Jennifer,
Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed it.

Billyvoo,
Thanks for the info.

I found this bit of information about Diamond Girl from a Banksy forum:
"You don't know me, but I live near not far from where this piece was done. Anyway, the wall was going to be destroyed by scrappers within a week. So, a friend and I reached out to a local grassroots art gallery, and they decided to save the wall. They mobilized a crew, and worked for hours to preserve the wall. It won't be sold; they will frame it and display it at their gallery in the city. I believe they plan on inviting Bansky (although I wouldn't imagine he would be interested in showing up - maybe anonymously though?)...

Just thought I'd let you know, this great piece will be saved..."

My two cents: I guess this is why Detroit can't have nice things. Street art is never permanent so shouldn't we leave it be? Yes, scrappers might have destroyed the piece but seeing a Banksy in a gallery just can't be the same.

May 12, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

There seem to be more Banksy's around Detroit. Anyone know where this Banksy piece is?

May 12, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Thanks for this. Cool post. I love graffiti as art and I sincerely hope that no one damages Banksy's rat.

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSchmee

becks davis, feel free to contact me at billyvoo at gmail dot com regarding this.

as for the new banksy, ill let you know in a couple of days.


(c;' cheers!!!

billyvoo

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbillyvoo

The plot deepens: You broke real news, Becks, and it turns out you glimpsed Diamond Girl in the nick of time before she got nicked.

First-person accounts of her chiseling are posted by two self-described preservationists who presumably are those described in the Urban Art Association post you link to -- though the "crew" that was "mobilized" consisted of Terry Johnson of Detroit, a friend named Shane and Terry's 20-year-old girlfriend, Libby O. of Ferndale.

Here's what Terry (Ferndale High '06) says [http://emptyspaces.tumblr.com/] to confirm (for what it's worth) his pal's longer account that's pasted underneath:
Shane and my girlfriend stood guard and made sure to document the whole effort of getting this piece while i pounded and scraped away bricks.

In a 6 p.m. post from Wednesday, May 12, at his blog [http://theprocesstheory.tumblr.com/post/593273137], Terry purports to give what's headlined as The official banksy 'diamond girl' removal story. (He disdains most cap letters, this art chisler.)

Here 'tis for all to see in full and in original style, unlike Diamond Girl:

"this is truth, I’ve been holding out on posting this, but i think its time. Famed Banksy artist took aim at Detroit, and like many people who knew it would be short lived, a cohort and i began removing the piece.

"In the wee hours of the morning. We worked diligently till about six am. Carving out the bricks ever so carefully. I promise, you have never seen a sledge hammer flow ever so softly into brick. as if the girl herself was trapped. When staring a modern legend, and if not the greatest street artist of the last 15 years. a chance to feel, touch, see, and own a legend. for money? for preservation? who knows.

"some gallery would have beat us to it. i know they would, the other piece was already being removed by some gallery who we know is going to make the quick buck. This was a guerrilla movement. an attempt in the night. much in an adverse way of Banksy hitting the wall himself. My accomplice hands bloodied and blistered.

"let it be known, to who ever took that piece… you didn’t deserve it. you didn’t work for it. but it should be documented. We are not an entity, we are not a gallery. We were two fans, trying to do the right thing before the hounds of a desolate city, hurting for money. Take what you will, i know we will catch a lot of heat for it. Rebels? Saviors? assholes? Dedicated fans? it depends on how you view it…. Ill let the pictures do the speaking."

Four images accompany it at:
http://theprocesstheory.tumblr.com/post/593273137

In my view, the top commenter on his blog, 'Jalon Elumerti,' puts it well:

you didn’t ‘deserve’ it either. street art is street art for a reason.

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

^ Ooops ^ . . . Mistyped in introducing the second post.
That longer one is by 'Shane.'

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

i love banksy! his art is always so thought provoking. great to see he tagged detroit!

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter++MIRA++

What kind of F-Tard would remove those. Seriously I hope you feel guilt for the rest of your life for not leaving it for whomever to stumble upon it. I am sure that Bansky didn't want you losers to have it. He probably wanted everyone to have it.

IDIOTS!

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Wish I could take a pic of a Banksy. Tried to yesterday and found it covered over with gray spray paint. Guess its making 555 look like they really did do the right thing.

July 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandingo

IN AUG. 2008, JULIE BLOOM WROTE IN ARTS BRIEFLY, NEW YORK TIMES, THAT THE STREET ARTIST BANKSY CREATED OVER A 12 MURALS IN NEW ORLEANS, IN RESPONSE TO FRED RADTKE, AN ANTIGRAFFITI CAMPAIGNER, KNOW AS" THE GRAY GHOST".FOR USING GRAY PAINT TO COVER GRAFFITI. HALLOWEEN, 2010, NEW ORLEANS, AN ART EXHIBIT FOR ONE WEEK , LEADING UP TO HALLOWEEN HAD AN ART PIECE DONE BY "THE GRAY GHOST" DEPICTING GRAY SQUARES LAYING ON RED LETTERS THAT SAID BA...SY. THE ART SHOW WILL TRAVEL TO LONDON, ENGLAND FOR A WEEK AND WILL DISPLAY THE ART PIECE. RADTKE HAS THE ART PIECE FOR SALE AT $10,000 (U.S.) AND WILL GIVE 50% TO A ART SCHOLARSHIP AND 50% TO A NON-PROFIT. YOU CAN SEE THE WORK AT DOUG MCCASH, ART CRITIC TIMES PICAYUNE

November 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterART BLOGGER

nice work! i love the buzz thats created when "A Banksy" appears anywhere. Last summer 7 Banksy's showed up in Toronto just in time for the "exit" debut at the TIFF. Most were gone within a few days. one was saved when the pub owner tried to chase off someone taking a picture of it. They said they didn't want to promote or add to the "street art" in the area or draw attention to the vandalism and that a cleaner was on the way down to do away with it. The photographer shared the story of how a Bansky wall sold for 200,000 pounds. "you buy it, you remove it" anyway...long story short... the photog went back later in the day to see if it was gone..it was cover in plexiglass and weather stripping... still there on the back wall of a Pub on the corner of Church St and the Esplinade... cave art at its finest! Good work! love the read!

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeriousK

Found this site really interesting, going to book mark it now!!

June 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark @ Mrcanvasman

This site is super. I've been looking for information on Banktsy. Your site will be bookmarked for future reference.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDion Bloomfield

Wow I love the street art, even though the art is great, but I have not seen some of the things that many people see. Since I am in detroit I get to experience this every day!

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDanny

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