Save the Banksy graffiti, hundreds say in petition
February 7, 2010
Macey Truett a few years ago worked as a nanny in London, taking in the arts in one of the world’s cultural capitals in her free time.
It was in London where Truett first heard of an artist who calls himself Banksy, a guerrilla graffiti phenomenon whose work appeared scattered throughout Park City in the days before the opening of the Sundance Film Festival in January.
Truett, a 19-year-old from Huntsville, says she was surprised to hear that Banksy had left his artwork around Park City. With one of the Banksy pieces in Park City already painted over just as other graffiti is when it turns up, Truett says she and three of her friends have gathered approximately 700 signatures on a petition to convince people to preserve the rest of the Banksy artwork.
"Me and my friends were so, so excited. I couldn’t believe it," says Truett, who works in a coffee shop’s Ogden and Layton locations. "We couldn’t believe he hit Park City."
Banksy traveled to Park City in anticipation of the premier of his "Exit Through the Gift Shop," a Sundance documentary that was among the most sought-after tickets of the festival.
His pieces created a stir in Park City and on the Internet, with the artwork quickly generating buzz that is normally reserved for the movie stars who arrive for the festival. It is believed Banksy put up five pieces in Park City, with four of them appearing on the artist’s Web site. The Park City Police Department received three complaints about the pieces just before the start of the festival.
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Truett, who saw a screening of the Banksy documentary during the festival, says she and her friends collected most of the signatures outside Java Cow on Main Street, the site of one of the Banksy pieces, during Sundance. She says the people who signed the petition were roughly split between Utah residents and people from elsewhere. A copy of the wording of the petition was not immediately available.
She says Banksy’s art is unlike anyone else’s, and Truett is especially drawn to themes in Banksy’s work like a person throwing a bouquet of flowers as if the bouquet is a Molotov cocktail.
"I love his uniqueness and his way of expressing things. He has a really different way of thinking. I admire that about him," Truett says.
She plans to submit the petition to City Hall by the middle of February. It is not clear, though, what role the municipal government will play as decisions are made regarding the Banksy pieces.
Park City officials quickly had the single piece that was placed on City Hall-owned property — the word ‘Banksy’ on a white shed along the S.R. 224 entryway — removed. The rest of the pieces were put on private property. Three of them have been protected in some fashion.
Rhoda Stauffer, the chairperson of the Public Art Advisory Board, a City Hall panel involved with art on municipal property, says she is pleased the three pieces are protected.
She is unsure if the board will have a role in any talks about the Banksy pieces since they are on private property. Park City leaders and the arts community have long pressed for art pieces to be put on public display as a way to further beautify the city.
"Most of the art board sort of loves the concept, the idea, of having some of those in the community," Stauffer says.
The Banksy tour
Of the five pieces that Banksy is believed to have put up in Park City, four have been preserved in some fashion. The fifth, which was placed on a City Hall-owned shed off S.R. 224, was removed. It is the local government’s policy to remove graffiti. The status of the rest of the Banksy artwork:
Java Cow building piece — under a see-through protective sheet of plastic.
Main Street garage piece — under a see-through protective sheet of plastic.
Heber Avenue utility box piece — unprotected.
Egyptian Theatre door piece — door removed and stored for safekeeping for possible sale in fund-raising auction.