Banksy in NYC: The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill
by Ariston Anderson
The last time street artist Bansky did a piece in New York, it was a small painting of a cheap can of soup—his tribute to Andy Warhol—that he smuggled onto a gallery wall at the MoMa. As you might have already seen, Banksy recently put up three giant billboards in the Big Apple. All depicting the NYC mascot, one rat sports an "I heart New York" shirt at the corner of Grand and Wooster, another is found whitewashing the wall at Houston and Macdougal and the last rat at Howard and Broadway is holding a briefcase full of money accompanied with text that reads "Let them eat crack." In a statement Bansky comments, "I wanted to play the corporations at their own game, at the same scale and in the same locations. The advantage of billboard companies is that they'll let you write anything for money, even if what you write is questioning the ethics of letting someone write anything because they have money."
However, these works seem like they were just a warm up for his first official show in New York City (Wooster Collective claims the others have been fakes). Diehard Bansky fans are most excited to see his popup store, The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill located at 89 Seventh Avenue South. The tiny space can hold no more than 20 people at a time, and because it's a storefront, the exhibit is also viewable at night. Don't expect to find any of his more identifiable works inside. Demonstrating his twisted but thought provoking sense of humor, Banksy designed a pet shop that includes fish sticks swimming in a fish tank, a chimpanzee watching chimp porn, a fur coat playing a cat, and hot dog hamsters. One of our favorites has to be the Chicken McNuggets sipping barbeque sauce (image via wooster collective). With the use of animatronics Banksy is able to take his artform to a whole new level.
The top secret artist is not known for doing many shows but the ones he puts on are more akin to events like this one rather than mere gallery nights. A 2005 London show was held in a shop with 164 live rats and featured vandalized pastiches of famous artworks, such as Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. His 2006 Los Angeles show featured a live elephant painted red and gold to match the wallpaper, and a pre-party for the Hollywood elite, where Angelina and Brad picked up a slew of his work. In May of this year he organized a street art exhibition in a Eurostar tunnel in London, featuring graffiti artists from around the world.
This newest event is a departure from past works to say the least. Be sure to check it out before the lines start winding around the blocks. Open from 10am-midnight daily through 31 October 2008. More information is also available at The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill.
Be sure to check out the video below to see the animatronics in action.