My Day With Banksy

Sore feet, but happy.

Anyone who loves street art probably froze for a good fifteen seconds when the headline ‘Banksy Comes to Toronto?‘ hit Torontoist on Sunday afternoon.  It wouldn’t have been the first time people thought they spotted the man’s work on the streets of T-Dot, people around here have been mistaking Fauxreel and Banksy’s work for years, so there was a healthy dose of skepticism.  But the evidence continued to pile up, to the point where the CBC of all places reported that Banksy’s publicist [Banksy has a publicist?!] confirmed that the pieces spotted were legitimate.

And then it seemed everyone in this city lost their damn fool mind for a minute.

As the weekend went on reports of more and more pieces came in, and combined with Torontoists and other outlets’ refusal to openly divulge the locations and the swift scrubbing of two pieces and temporary nature of another, opportunities to see the works seemed in danger of drying up fast. So there was really only one way to spend my day today.

I imagine this is what it feels like to play a live action version of ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ I’ve walked more than 10 km, wandered through alleys that were probably not the safest to do so, and almost got killed running across Lake Shore Blvd before finally cutting my losses.

The rats will survive us.

I started by heading out to only piece with a solid location, the ‘Chinatown Rat’. I was already resolved to the idea that it would be the only one I saw, but I would still get to see and touch one Banksy original, which is more than some can say. A glance at the local commuter paper on the subway ride down reading the local commuter paper that morning gave up another detail on a second piece.  Finding that one [after ending up on Dufferin and walking back], I met a fellow who tipped me off to a third location, which happened to be the only one with a small crowd forming.  Everyone was cool and respectful, waiting their turn for pictures.

You’ll notice I’m not giving up where I found them either.  There’s a few reasons for that. One: locations are getting revealed in more detail every day, by tomorrow they won’t be much of a mystery any more, I imagine.  Two: screw you, I walked my ass off looking for these things, you can get there yourself.  Three:  not knowing where I was going, wandering into nooks and crannies of the city I’d never been through before made for an awesome little adventure.  Similar to my search for Annie’s love notes, the art drew me into the city, fastened new connections between me and it.  So often living here I get into a routine, stay confined to the hoods I’m familiar with; every day off I’m in the Annex/Yorkville/Yonge&Eg/Queen West…my desire to see this art pulled me into places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise, and that’s just as much a reward as finding the pieces.

See the full set of today’s adventures on my Flickr.

And if you’re on the prowl, happy hunting! If you find that one on the Lakeshore, holler.

Yes, quite.

One comment

  1. Thank you for writing this and posting pictures. That sharing is a kindness that deserves to be recognized.

    It’s great that you enjoyed your adventure and didn’t get killed in the process. Maybe it even gave you a little taste of the thrill Banksy must get putting up his work.

    I can’t help but point out, however, that “screw you” as a sentiment seems incongruous with everything Banksy stands for. Perhaps it was very clever, however off-putting, satire.

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