Banksy briefly on dis­play in Wind­sor

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY MICHAEL H. HODGES Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Street-art en­thu­si­asts take note — there’s a rare, brief op­por­tu­nity to see a bonafide paint­ing by the elu­sive, anony­mous Bri­tish artist Banksy.

Wind­sor’s Wolf­head Dis­tillery will ex­hibit “Haight Street Rat,” painted in 2010 on a San Fran­cisco bed-and-break­fast, through Thurs­day, along with works by lo­cal On­tario street artists.

At least, this Banksy is about as bonafide as you can get, given the artist fa­mously re­fuses to state that a given work is his.

“When Banksy did this in 2010, the only way he’d au­then­ti­cate was by putting a photo of the piece on his own web­site.” said Nashville res­i­dent and art­world en­tre­pre­neur Brian Greif, who now owns the work.

“And the rat was on his web page,” he added. “It was au­then­ti­cated.”

Greif is one of the chief char­ac­ters in the 2017 Net­flix doc­u­men­tary “Sav­ing Banksy,” which ex­plores the tricky moral­ity sur­round­ing street art and at­tempts to pre­serve it, much less profit by it.

Detroi­ters may well re­mem­ber the brouhaha when rep­re­sen­ta­tives of 555 Gallery ex­tracted the ce­ment-block mu­ral, “I Re­mem­ber When All This Was Trees,” from the crum­bling Packard plant in 2010. The paint­ing fea­tured a glum lit­tle boy with a paint brush and can.

The gallery was at­tacked for re­mov­ing the mu­ral in the first place, but crit­i­cism died down once they put the piece on dis­play.

All that revved up again, how­ever, when 555 sold “I Re­mem­ber” in 2015 at auc­tion in Los An­ge­les for $137,500.

“I don’t see how they can candy-coat sell­ing the Banksy,” lo­cal artist Stephen Schudlich told The Detroit News at the time. “It was a bad, bad move from the start.”

For its part, “Haight Street Rat” was one of eight works Banksy al­legedly painted dur­ing a week’s spree in San Fran­cisco. Greif says the city re­quired land­lords to white­wash them as soon as they went up.

“They re­garded them as graf­fiti,” he said.

So Greif res­cued the rat, af­ter get­ting per­mis­sion from the B&B owner to take out the wood planks it was painted on.

“I re­moved it,” Greif said, “but I don’t con­sider my­self to be the owner. I’m its cus­to­dian. I tried to give it to SF MOMA for free,” he added, re­fer­ring to the city’s Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, “hop­ing

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