Hanksy’s “The Best of the Worst”

Rainer Turim, ’18

When street art comes to mind, the big names are tossed around — Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring, Basquiat, Banksy, and others. But when you say the name “Hanksy,” many will correct you, telling you “No… Banksy!” The fact is that there is a street artist who calls himself “Hanksy,” who has been blowing up over the past few years. What once started as mixing together iconic Banksy work with the films of Tom Hanks has evolved into very elaborate puns. Hanksy’s latest work can be flattened down to painting puns onto wood. Hanksy’s first work was posted online in 2011 and has since been posted on many social networks, laughed at, and also been posted by The New York Times. The artist is not one to show his face, much like many other artists. The show had been open for two days and located at “an abandoned building that once polished young and overdrawn minds…”

The behind-the-scenes of Hanksy’s show has been posted online by other street artists leading to the debut of the show. Along with the local New York blog, The Gothamist, Hanksy planted special golden tickets in the days leading up to the show for fans to collect and win themselves a prize. Waiting in line for the show, there were some very devoted fans. One of them was Che, a representative of Central Massachusetts on their art board and commission. Che had explained that he was a big fan of Hanksy, and furthermore that he wanted to “support art culture.” Che had driven down from Massachusetts for the show and despite standing for some hours, he was very excited to see the latest of Hanksy’s work.

Nicolas Heller, a writer for the Rolling Stone, was also a fan of Hanksy’s work. Heller had explained that he “started working with Hanksy on various film things two years ago and it is really crazy to see how far he’s come.” Heller had helped document Hanksy’s illegal takeover of an abandoned building in Alphabet City scheduled for destruction a year ago. Hanksy, along with many talented artists, had cleaned up the building and used his magic on it to create a project that would be called, “Surplus Candy.” The show was opened for two hours. Heller explains that he would never have known that Hanky’s work would become as great as it did. He said, “…here he is with the craziest show of the year with a fan base that must be at least twenty times as big as when we first met.” Heller found the opportunity to document Hanksy quite cool.

The newest of Hanksy’s work includes hand-painted woodwork as well as a collective piece by many artists on a skateboard ramp, for people who came bringing their decks. The show included free dumplings and blue tortilla chips as well as free to play arcade games. The show furthermore included a no-charge photobooth and some more interesting activities. Pieces included puns like “Traylor Swift,” “Mile E. Coyote” and “Drake-o Malfoy.” The show had designated a room for Hanksy’s friends and peers to showcase their canvases and mixed media in a rather gallery-like setting, accompanied by blue tortilla chips to eat.

The show included artists as big as Cope2, some from Chicago like Left Handed Wave, and local artists like Me and Clint Mario. Me and Clint Mario’s most famous pieces are their posters. The two have been posting up posters in phone-booths for quite a while. Their work can be seen up anywhere ranging from Colorado to Houston Street, whether it’s their tiny stickers or their recognizable posters. Me has described the show as “better than bad.” Another attendee of the show was Clayton Patterson, a photographer of the Lower East Side who moved to New York in 1979. He said the show was “fabulous,” but asked what many fans wondered themselves, “Where is Hanksy?” Another artist who described the show as “impressive” and “hell of a show” was Joseph Meloy, an abstract artist known for his work with his character, the primate.

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