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Latino Daily News

Thursday February 24, 2011

OSCAR BUZZ: Is Banksy Promoting “Exit Through The Gift Shop” with Street Art about Immigration?

Street art on, walls, street signs and other public spaces presumably slapped on by British artist Banksy have been appearing in California’s streets some of it having to do with illegal immigration. Is this his way to promote his Oscar nominated film?

Running up for “Best Documentary” on these upcoming Academy Awards, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” follows shop-keeper turned amateur filmmaker Thierry Guetta, as he amasses ridiculous amounts of footage documenting many of the world’s most infamous vandals—street artists, only to have British brilliant stencil artist Banksy turn the camera back on its owner with unexpected, interesting, hilarious and wild results.

Reinvented versions of the iconic yellow traffic signs with a silhouetted family that line roads near the U.S.-Mexico border have been appearing in California. The original depicts a mom, dad and girl running, leaning forward as if ducking from fire, or sprinting sneakily across the border.

By adding a kite, Banksy transformed the image of an anxious family running for their lives to a joyful family running towards their dreams.

The original signs were printed by CalTran’s graphic designer John Hood.

He and his supervisors met with Highway Patrol officers and saw photos of accident scenes before starting the design process.

“Graphically, I wanted to show a family,” Hood told the San Diego Tribune in 2005. He chose to include a pigtailed girl, rather than a boy, because “there is something about a little girl running across with her parents that we are more affected by.”

The sudden rise of Banksy’s art is causing quite a controversy.  A billboard on Sunset blvd. featured an advertisement for the “Light Group”, a Las Vegas-based management company that manages several restaurants in the city’s casinos. According to a Light Group spokeswoman, the company was thrilled that Banksy chose to turn their “generic billboard” into a piece of art.

“We thought it was really flattering,” says Beth Bartolini, director of public relations. “We picked a great spot for our billboard, and he thought so too. It was one of our generic billboards. It’s much cooler to have Banksy tag it.”

But the thrill faded when CBS Outdoor, the company that owns the billboard, took down the sign Wednesday afternoon because “it did not meet our standards.” Banksy had drawn a drunken Mickey Mouse groping the model on the original advert, and a strung out Minnie Mouse next to a banner that read “Living the Dream.”Image

“It’s our billboard, and we will have it back” representatives from the Light Group Said. “We don’t know what we’ll do with it yet. But it’s art. We want to make sure we do the right thing.”