A new quasi-verified mural attributed to the notoriously anonymous Banksy materialized above Amnesia Bar on Valencia Street some time Wednesday, according to art snoopers, enthusiasts and nearby shop owners.

Street art and local blogs hypebeast, fecalface and sfist have all been atwitter at its appearance, along with another Banksy piece in Chinatown. San Francisco-based art blogger Mike Cuffe, who broke the story on warholian.com, even took it upon himself to pronounce the work legit. More Banksy murals are being spotted throughout the city as well.

Though some discussion lingers over whether the pieces might have been done by a copycat, street art aficionados have been making pilgrimages to both sites.

“I came specifically out today,” said Andrew excitedly. He drove into the city from Hayward just for this. “You never know when someone is going to take it down or paint over it. This is an amazing opportunity. It’s awesome.”

His girlfriend looked a little less impressed, whiling on the sidewalk, as he positioned himself in various lanes of oncoming traffic to get the best shot.

“His stuff pops up in the weirdest places. It makes you wonder,” Andrew said with a big grin.

A piece in Los Angeles was removed last week within days of appearing, along with part of the wall it was attached to, with stories that an art gallery owner organized the removal and its impending unauthorized sale. His work has been selling for upwards of $100,000.

Speculation has taken off, and a number of other Banksy pieces are being spotted and photographed around the city, including another found in the Mission near Dolores Park of a Native American slumped along the sidewalk holding a “no trespassing” sign.

In the space of 20 noontime minutes Friday, nine admirers had stopped by Valencia Street near 20th to stand in the street and snap away while cars honked and flustered bikers swerved by.

“It’s definitely him,” said Ryan Gurney, who lives nearby and had come out to see. “It’s got that stencil thing he does. Free hand, he’ll flesh it out.”

“It’s Banksy,” the next visitor positioned in the bike lane declared. “It’s messy. It’s his style. Must be promotion for his new film. It looks like a play on people taking his work off the walls and selling it in galleries.”

The Victorian Theater held a packed house premier of the film, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” Wednesday, April 14, a week earlier than the painted murals began appearing.

Even a grizzled old-timer pushing his overflowing shopping cart stopped to admire the work. “That’s good work though man. That boy even looks real,” he said peering blearily towards the sun.

Kevin Mosley, an artist with the City Art Coop Gallery across the street, said another artist at the gallery noticed the mural late Wednesday, but no one seems to have witnessed its creation.

Lulu Samuel, a freshman at San Francisco State, made the trek across the city to get a look. “I was pretty stoked to find out it was here. He’s really, really cool.”

At the Curiosity Shoppe next door to Amnesia, owner Derek Fagerstrom, who also lives upstairs in the alleged Banksy-tagged building, said he hadn’t caught a glimpse of the mysterious street art phenom, a man fecalface.com believes will “go down as one of the most important artists of our time.”

“People have been out there taking pictures,” Fagerstrom said. “I’m cynical. Maybe it was some sort of guerilla marketing ploy by people associated with the movie.”

The mention of Banksy roused two girls looking at mini stamp sets inside his boutique craft store. “Is that new!?” Within seconds, they’re into the street, camera phones held aloft.

Banksy has never publicly revealed his identity, but is thought to have been born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England.

His work often takes a satirical swing at consumerism and violence, generally whimsical and always anti-establishment.

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Born in the central valley of Massachusetts and raised in Tidewater Virginia, Garrett attended public schools before graduating from the University of Virginia. Wandering and working in various national parks, tutoring kids on the playgrounds of Dublin, and teaching English to 3rd graders in China eventually led to some temporary confusion, and a re-settling as a community journalist.

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13 Comments

  1. I think we have a Banksy here in the 1300 block of Minna. It reads: “If this ain’t heaven then don’t kill me.” It appeared early Friday morning. No Picture with it. It’s on the back side of the building next to Walden house.

    The tragedy is most of the graffiti is not art, just simply property damage. Most of the property owners on my street are elderly and can’t afford to repaint over it. Then the city fines us! The city fines those of us who pay heavy property taxes and we have no protection from these criminals.

  2. Banksy’s art is pretty amazing, but call me cynical: Don’t ya think all these tags might have a wee bit to do with promoting the U.S. opening this month of his movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” including in the Bay Area ? Wonder what the anti-establishment artist– with such an amazing grasp of modern-day irony in his work— is doing with the profits.

  3. Is Banksy short for Taking It To The Bank? Hard to say if there’s one Banksy or a collective or a corporate brand. The “Banksy” movie is fascinating but silent about how what started as a street caper became big business. The art of irony can be quite profitable.
    x/pat

  4. So, the moral of the story is: if it’s artistic, or something done by someone with talent, as opposed to the 99% of the crap out there that is nothing more than scrawlings, it’s VERY COOL and worthy of admiration. Sorry folks, it’s still VANDALISM, even if done by a “folk hero” like Banksy. I really don’t get this adulation of loose cannons who think nothing of “decorating” someone’s property with their markings, no matter what they are. And the minute these “revolutionary artists” get official recognition and go legit, they forget their roots and go for the bucks. What hypocrisy! Get a life and become an artist the legitimate way and don’t fuck up other people’s property. I’m sure Banksy would be thrilled if I used a screwdriver to decorate his car or bike with “cool scratchings”. Graffiti is art only when it’s done with permission. Otherwise it’s vandalism, pure and simple.

  5. VANDALISM? yeah. He’s working on making the world a BETTER LOOKING PLACE and it works!! what are you doing???

    Banksy is going for no bucks. do your research before you bitch MissionMan. He has shows that he pays for where nothing is for sale MissionMan.

    Get smart. Nothing wrong with Art. EVER.

  6. “Street Artist”? He’s a goddamn vandal and should be arrested and jailed.

    Lending any credit to this arrogant asshole makes you as guilty as he is.

    He isn’t making anything better by defacing other’s property. If he’s so good, why isn’t anyone paying him to pain their buildings.

  7. Although Banksy may be a vandal, he/she can be legitimately labelled as an artist, because he/she CREATES things. Not many people in this world actually have the passion or will to improve the world by creating unique ideas, art, or feats of engineering.

    I would only consider my property defaced if it had been ‘tagged’ by some half-wit with a can of spraypaint. Banksy’s work has become controversial, and it has obviously brought more business to this part of the world.

    Banksy makes this world a better place because more people are THINKING as a result of his/her work. So before you denounce Banksy as a criminal, I’d like to see you create something and improve this world instead of sitting in front of the computer.

    The reason nobody is paying him/her is because Banksy is ANONYMOUS at this point.

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