In October 2013, Banksy performed a month-long outdoor extravaganza in New York City. He called it “Better Out Than In.” (Har har har). Each day of the month, he erected a new piece somewhere in Gotham. That’s a lot of pieces and a lot of work. I figured I’d see what remained a year and a half later. To my surprise, I actually found three pieces that remained. In street art circles, lotsa people really hate Banksy. With a passion. He’s reviled by most. I thought his work woulda been paint bombed or destroyed by now. I found three! I was delighted.
The first was this piece at 79th and Broadway on the Upper West Side. The owners of the wall put the piece behind plexiglass to stop people from destroying it, but that hasn’t stopped people from dropping their business cards down there. If you look closely, someone’s house key is stuck in there too.
Now I walked by this wall on Delancey near Bowery many many times as I was hunting street art and didn’t think much of it, until I gave it a good look. What struck me as odd about it was that the rest of the wall had been painted except for this perfect little square of what looked like random tags.
Ahhh, but look closer. Do you see the words “The Musical” embedded in there? Banksy did this thing where he added the tag “The Musical!” to random tags. For example, one tag had said “Dirty Underwear” and he added “The Musical!” This is New York after all.
For reference, this is what the wall looked like before it was heavily tagged:
Playground Mob, The Musical!
And I found this piece by accident 🙂
Finding this piece was a rare treat! It’s Banksy’s Geisha Girls and tree. I was searching for it in Bed-Stuy and couldn’t find it, until I came across one of those rolldown grate thingies on this wall. I figured the piece had to be behind it, so I went inside the business that owns the wall, an optometrist, and asked them politely if I could see the Banksy behind the rolldown grate.
They said sure, came out with the keys, rolled it up, let me take my photographs, and chatted pleasantly with me. And that was it!
Ask and you shall receive, people.
Check out my Banksy category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
As I’ve mentioned previously, last year Space Invader came out with an app called Flash Invaders. It turns graff-hunting into a real-life video game. You take a photograph of his work you’ve found, and the app will award you points. Get enough points, you’re in the high scores! It’s like living inside a 1980s arcade game! Anyway, I’m in the High Scores (naturally! I peaked at #25, but last time I checked, I had dropped to #50 because there are no ‘Vaders in Toronto!) and you get an extra 100-point-bonus for every new city you flash, so I was excited to go hunting in NYC considering he has put up hundreds in the city over the years (previous examples here and here). The last time he visited NYC was in 2013, but since then, people have ruthlessly cut his work off of the buildings and very few remain! Here are the ones I managed to find. I understand that there are some I have missed, so if you’ve found some recently that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below!
‘Vader has been collaborating A LOT with Cost and Enx as of late (check out my ‘Vader post from Paris, you will all of their collabs there), and this massive piece worth 100 points on the app was in Bushwick in the heart of the Bushwick Collective area.
Space Invader does Snow White! He loves doing this big characters. From my Paris piece, you’ll remember he’s done Picasso, Mona Lisa, Robin Hood, the Pink Panther, Star Wars, and many others. This was in the Lower East Side and I had to stand in the middle of busy Manhattan traffic just to get this shot. Totally worth it.
Also, it was freezing outside, so taking my fingers out of my mitts to wield my camera was really painful and I lost feeling in my hands many times, so I hope you appreciate my dedication here!
Super Mario Brothers! If you remember the video game, Mario would get sucked into those tube-like things, so it’s funny that he placed this mosaic right underneath a tube, hahah…. not so funny that it’s next to a baggie of dog poop. I found this one just north of the Meatpacking district on the West side.
An actual ‘Vader, probably dating back a few years. This was on Bowery, and I kicked myself for missing this one so many times, as I walked up and down Bowery a gazillion times before finding it.
A 3-D ‘Vader! I had intel on this one, but then my intel got damaged and I had to throw it out (specifically, the cat I was looking after pooped on it) and I had written this one off. But then one night I was walking along the High Line (which you really should do in Winter as there’s no one on it in Winter so you have it all to yourself!) and I found it while looking at the view of the city! Totally stumbled upon it by accident, and worth 50 points too!
This one pissed me off because I had the location and intersection for this one and searched and searched for it to no avail. Until one day I decided to go a bit south of the indicated location and found it! My intel had been wrong!!! I hate it when people aren’t specific!! They had told me it was at 17th and 10th. WELL IT WASN’T.
Another one I found by accident. This was in South Williamsburg. It’s half-destroyed, but I figured it might still be flashable, as many of the ‘Vaders I found in Paris were half-destroyed but still flashable. I was right!
Oh and this sweet lil’ thang was in the Museum of Moving Images in Queens!
Check out my Space Invader category for all of his pieces that I’ve photographed from around the world!