Guerrilla Art: Banksy in Park City

Written by: Michael Purser
Posted: September 28, 2016

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Unknown to most Park City visitors, our town is home to several works of street art by one of the world's most famous guerrilla artists. Join us as we share the little-known secret of the Banksies of Park City.

Sundance, 2010

The year is 2010. The Sundance Film Festival arrives in Park City, bringing with it the attendant spectacle and excitement Parkites have come to expect from the annual cinematic celebration. Among the films being screened this year: Exit Through the Gift Shop, a street art documentary directed by famous—and famously anonymous—graffiti artist Banksy.

As morning dawns on the overflowing mountain town, something is different. Something is new. Someone has been awake in the small hours, plying their clandestine trade across Park City during the night. Up to seven works of Banksy appear in town. Some, like Banksy’s name written across a barn, are quickly expunged by the authorities or property owners. Three of the works, however, remain to this day.

Camera Man and Flower

402 Main Street

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The best known of the three surviving Park City Banksy works, this image of a camera man filming a flower he has—probably accidentally—torn out by the roots graces the wall of Java Cow on Main Street. The owners of Java Cow have gone to some lengths to protect their artistic treasure. A heavy-duty frame and bulletproof glass protect the painting from defacement, protection that was put to the test in 2014 against an attack with a ball-peen hammer. Fortunately, the case, and the painting inside, survived without incident. In addition to their functional value, these protective additions have created a seeming shrine to the work of the beloved vandal. This work of art, and Java Cow, can be found at 402 Main Street.

Praying Boy

537 Main Street

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This work is also located in the Main Street area, painted on a parking garage wall close to the last image. During the attack that cracked the glass over Camera Man and Flower, Praying Boy was almost obliterated by a frustrated artist. The original work was nearly entirely painted over, leaving only the blotchy outline of the original boy, with parts of his heavenly pink accoutrements peeking out from under the dubious additions. Fortunately, a skilled art restorer was able to rescue the image, allowing art lovers to enjoy this piece once more. The frame and glass have since been restored, and the jealous vandal was caught, tried, and sentenced.

Dirty Rat

328 Main Street (in storage)

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Rats are a common element in the works of Banksy, iconic even. Park City is fortunate to have a Banksy rat in town, painted on the stage door of the Egyptian Theater. This diminutive rodent in 3D glasses can’t be seen by the average passerby; not for the moment, anyway. The door housing the piece was quickly removed from service and stored safely away, to prevent the sort of vandalism on vandalism that afflicted the other two remaining works. It is currently safeguarded in a storage room in the theater, awaiting a final home as the Egyptian uses Dirty Rat for a fundraiser benefiting their children’s program. Hopefully, Dirty Rat will return to public life in the near future. The fundraiser is ongoing, in case you want to know more.