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.