Beyond the Streets – a familiar sequel

Roger Gastman, curator and de facto historian of street art, came back with another huge production surveying the past and present of graffiti and street art called Beyond the Streets. For those that don’t know, Gastman’s lengthy CV include curating the monumental Art in the Streets (ahem, sound familiar?) exhibition at MOCA with Jeffrey Deitch and producing Banksy’s widely acclaimed mockumentary Exit through the Gift Shop.

Beyond the Streets should have been a home run, and I’m sure it brought in a lot of attendance and ticket sales. It took a proven formula from Art in the Streets and Exit through the Gift Shop by bringing in commercially successfully street artists from LA and New York and sprinkled in a bit of international fame from the likes of Banksy and Invader, and voila, you got an edgy urban art show fit for the LA Instagram models and hypebeasts.

Although there were brief references to the early figures of graffiti, such as Kenny Scharf, Futura 2000, and Chaz Bojorquez, heavy focus was on contemporary street art. Even Takashi Murakami and cohorts’ homage to graffiti makes an appearance, which I was confused about. If an artist uses spray paint does that make him a street artist? Murakami still brings crowds though. In that regard, Beyond the Street knew how to tap into the current zeitgeist of street art/urban art/neo contemporary urban/whatever kids are calling it these days. You can’t say zeitgeist without saying Banksy and Basquiat in the same sentence, so, of course, there was Banksy’s homage to Basquiat on display taking up a whole wall.

I probably sound bitter, because I think the show could have been so much more. It should have built on the success of street art as a respectable art genre, but this felt like a quick cash grab. The show had bit of flavor from anyone that’s a who’s who of street art, which is cool, but Gastman should have used the chance to highlight more up and coming artists. I didn’t come out of the show feeling like I learned something new or that street art had evolved since the seminal museum show at MOCA in 2011. That was almost a decade ago! Rather than pushing boundaries, the show was pandering and populist, produced to provide picturesque backdrops for that #doitforthegram. Art in the Streets was groundbreaking because it was the first time street art was being recognized as a genre that could stand toe to toe with blue chip contemporary art. This show tried the same formula but fell short in its ambition and scope.

Having said all that, I’m not mad at it. For a few bucks, street art aficionados of Los Angeles got to see all the heavy hitters of the genre in one place. There’s value in that.

The show came to an end this past weekend, so you can’t go see it anymore but below are some highlights from when I visited back in July. Enjoy!

– Los Angeles, CA

Banksy Returns to the West Wall with a New Venture – Walled-Off Hotel


Less than two years since the massively successful resort venture Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare, Bristol, the notorious street artist/performance master Banksy opened a hotel venture today in one of the most contentious and dangerous part of the world in Bethlehem, just steps away from the West Bank wall. There wasn’t even a rumbling of this project on the Internet before today, so I was very surprised to see this news come out this morning. Named Walled-Off Hotel (sounds a lot like Waldorf, no?), it is a 10-room hotel managed and staffed by locals of the city and full of new works created by Banksy.

Reservation opens on March 11th, and guests will be able to stay in the rooms beginning March 20th. It is complete with a classic piano bar where music greats like Elton John and Massive Attack will be playing remotely through an automated piano, a gallery where Palestine artwork will be showcased, and a museum depicting the history of the West Bank in classic Banksy style.

The rooms themselves range from $30 for a bunk in the Budget room to $300 Presidential suite where you can feel like a sociopathic despot. Every room is furnished with interior decoration by Banksy, which seems like a logistic nightmare with entrepreneurial fans who might try their hand at acquiring a new Banksy work. To curb those efforts, there is a $1000 deposit for guests, although that seems like pennies when Banksy’s works sell for hundreds of thousands at auction. In addition, there is a check-out inspection to ensure no work has been defaced or taken from the room. I guess that should discourage foul-play. This is probably one of the few hotels in the world where you actually want to look at the art in the room.

Presidential suite via
Bunks in the Budget room via

Walled-Off Hotel is a quiet protest against the on-going political  and military Israel-Palestine conflict that are affecting the ordinary citizens, but also a gift to these very citizens that are suffering because of it.  I’m not going to pretend that I know much of what’s going on out there, but it’s not hard to imagine that thousands of new tourists will be coming by Bethlehem to pay pilgrimage to the hotel, which means a big boon for the local economy. According to the FAQ, Banksy is planning on keeping the hotel open for the year, but probably will be open as long as there are guests. I just hope the short attention span of today’s culture doesn’t let this establishment be forgotten too quick, leaving the local workers of this hotel jobless. This isn’t Banksy’s first time in the West Bank though, so clearly Israel-Palestine conflict is an issue that he cares deeply about.


The hotel piano bar, art gallery, and museum are open to non-guests, but you’ll have to be a paying guest if you want to visit a room. For those who cannot visit the hotel in person, it looks like a web shop called Wall-Mart (this sounds a lot like the retail giant Wal-Mart, no?) is going to open on March 20th. Based on what I’ve read, I’m not holding my breath for new Banksy prints, but I believe there will be at least Walled-Off Hotel themed paraphernalia.


I never thought that we’d ever call Banksy a hotelier.

Here are a few links for more information on this new hotel.

Official website for the Walled-Off Hotel

‘Worst view in the world’: Banksy opens hotel overlooking Bethlehem wall

See inside Banksy’s new Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem

Banksy Who?

Banksy in his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop
Banksy in his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop

Over the weekend, our street art microcosm felt a small quake when a blogger Craig Williams posted a conspiracy theory that outlines why he thinks Banksy is Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja.  If you have a few minutes to kill, please give it a read because it’s a well-written article swelling with logic and evidence.  Frankly, as a blogger myself, I wish had written it.

If you don’t quite have the time to read Williams’ post, the gist of it is that there’s too many overlaps between Banksy’s mural appearances and Massive Attack’s global tour dates and projects.  Too many to be purely coincidental.  Of course, Del Naja denies that he is Banksy.

As Williams points out, it might be that Del Naja isn’t Banksy himself, but being that Banksy and Del Naja have publicly stated that they are close friends (Banksy cites 3D as an early influence from Bristol, Del Naja appears in Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, 3D’s art prints are sold on which got its start as being Banksy’s print shop, and, most recently, Massive Attack was scheduled to play at Dismaland before pulling out due to “technical difficulties”), it is conceivable that Banksy and/or his crew toured with Massive Attack out of logistics and convenience.

Major kudos to Williams for taking the time to cross-reference Massive Attack’s tours and projects to the numerous murals and stunts that Banksy has done over the past two decades or so.  I can’t imagine how much time it took.

Having said all that, it is mildly humorous how some media outlets are thoroughly engrossed by the idea that Banksy’s identity is finally revealed.  We had gone through this a few years ago when the media was sure that Banksy was this Joe Regular by the name of Robin Gunningham.  It didn’t really matter who Banksy was then, and it still doesn’t matter who Banksy is now.

In the social media era of foregone privacy and obsession in the personal lives of others, celebrity or not, it is natural for media outlets to react in such a way, but should the art community care who Banksy is?  I don’t like to meet artists whose art I enjoy, because I want to separate the person that the artist is and the message and visuals that the artist portrays.  The two should be mutually exclusive, and that allows the art to transcend physical into the visceral.

If you ask me, I’m still going to imagine Banksy looks like this.


Better in than out? I think Banksy would disagree.


Better In than Out, an obvious parody of Banksy’s outdoor New York City residency titled Better Out than In that took place around the city of New York back in October, 2013, is not a show that is in any way affiliated with the notorious street artist Banksy.  Let me reiterate that.

Banksy did not provide the artwork for this show, he did not create any new work for the purpose of showing it at Taglialatella Gallery, nor did he ever set foot in the gallery.  This is a gallery that specializes in the secondary market, meaning they take on consignments or buy artworks from private collections to sell at a huge markup.  Banksy has never done a show of this nature nor will he ever do so.  The recent “bemusement park” Dismaland, a totally off-the-wall art-show-cum-performance-art, that he created in Weston-super-Mare would bemoan to death a show like this.

But for those that have not had a chance to see Banksy’s work in person, such as myself, this is a fun little gallery to visit in Chelsea, if you ever visit NYC, like myself.  Most of the works on display were print editions that Banksy’s released in the last 10+ years, but there were also original works.  I’m not entirely certain of their authenticity, although the name cards mentioned being authenticated by Pest Control.  No, Pest Control isn’t an extermination company.  That’s Banksy’s institution for authenticating prints, originals, or any other artwork (except for street works, which is to deter people from stealing works from the street) that may have been created by Banksy.  However, there is an easy way to find out if a Bansky street art you find on the street is real:  Visit Banksy’s website because he will update his site with pictures of any new street piece.  These days you should never buy any Banksy artwork without having a certificate of authenticity from Pest Control.  But I digress.

Click through to find the pictures from the show.  I purposely did not take a picture of a Banksy piece that was stolen from the street that they had displayed center stage in the gallery.  No need to encourage behavior like that.  Enjoy.

Read more

Banksy’s Dismaland News (using a new blogging platform, Pressimus)


Yesterday, I serendipitously ran into an exciting and emerging “social live-publishing/story-telling/live-blogging” platform that I think will solve the most important problem that all bloggers are trying to overcome: to push out as many quality posts as you can, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  The solution may be Pressimus.  Below is an example of a Pressimus press (that’s what these micro-blog posts are called in the world of Pressimus) that I wrote in less than 5 minutes using the simple drag and drop tools, as well as its super useful functionality to search any social media directly in the platform.  That’s how I found every single video, articles, and Instagram pictures in the press below.  You can also easily embed the press into your own blog by simply copying and pasting a short line of code into the text of a regular post.

Please check it out and tell us what you think, especially if you’re a blogger yourself.




News Roundup of Banksy’s Dismaland

Photo Credit: Juxtapoz Magazine
Photo Credit: Juxtapoz Magazine

Best Damn Art Blog has scoured the Internet to bring you the latest news and updates from Banksy’s Dismaland.  Check it out!


  • A look at Dismaland from Britain’s Channel 4 News

  • New York Times covers Dismaland.
  • Juxtapoz will have an exclusive interview with Banksy in the next issue of the magazine, an exerpt of which is posted in the link, but they have also posted a preview of the show itself here.
  • Andrew Plant of BBC attends Dismaland and gives us another look at the show.
  • According to Dismaland’s spokeswoman, there were over 6 million hits on the website by Friday’s ticket sales.  It seems many were unable to secure a ticket from today’s anticipated ticket release from the website.
  • But some people did get it.


Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Landov
Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Landov

Check back with BDAB frequently as we continue to follow this unexpected new show from Banksy.

Dismaland will be open daily from 11am—11pm, August 22—September 27, 2015 (certain Saturdays will be open until 1am) in Weston-super-Mare, England. For more information, visit

BREAKING NEWS: Banksy’s Dismaland Confirmed


There have been murmurs for the past couple of weeks that a new Banksy show may be abound, but today it has been confirmed that it is happening in Weston-super-Mare, August 22-September 27, 2015.  Located on the Bristol Channel Coast of Somerset, England, Weston-super-Mare is, or was, a popular tourist destination with a population that is largely 65 or older.  Weston-super-Mare is also the title of a Banksy print from 2003, image of which is found below.

weston super mare

According to the website, you can expect to see work from many artists from all over the world, not just Banksy, including Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Paul Insect, Bast, Espo, and even Damien Hirst.  Tickets for guaranteed entry to the “amusement park” will be available starting Friday, London time, for only £3.  You can bet your dollar that I will be F5’ing all day to get my ticket. site2



Visit Dismaland’s website [here] for more information.