The Edmond Sun

February 25, 2014

Sidewalk chalk can earn an artist money

William F. O'Brien
Special to The Sun

ALTUS — The name “Banksy” is used by a mysterious street artist from the United Kingdom who frequently comes to the United States to draw in public places on walls and sidewalks. Banksy has been to New York City and New Orleans and in recent years his reported presence in those communities resulted in a what appeared to be treasure hunts that were covered by the media in which groups of people went out and searched for the work he had done.  

When his often whimsical visual creations are found, people with cell phone cameras materialize at the site to record them before they are washed away by clean-up crews.

As chronicled in a recent article in the New York Times, visitors to one of Banksy’s images in Manhattan found it encased in plexiglass in an effort to preserve it. The New York Times reporter also marveled at the fact that Banksy has managed to keep his identity secret despite the popularity of his work.

There have also been reports of Banksy working in smaller American communities and students of his art have recently been asked to ascertain if drawings done in those places could have been made by him.  

Like many successful artists, Banksy has spawned imitators, some of whom use social media such as instagram and twitter to publicize their etchings on public places. Some of those images are now found on the walls of art galleries in New York City and other  locales.  

One such artist uses the name “Hanksy” and draws on walls and sidewalks images of people and animals. It is possible that Banksy and the other street artists that he has inspired are responsible for the popularity of events such as the “Walkin’ on Chalk” gathering that will be held in the town square of Altus April 13.

 According to Amy Jo Cobb of the Altus Main Street Association, which is hosting the  gathering, artists of various ages will pay $5 and will then draw in chalk on the sidewalks of the square. Judges will award cash prizes in several different categories.

The event has been held for several years and each year there are more participants, Cobb reports. The event will also include banners that are made by students at Altus High School that will be on buildings on the square and will also be judged. The photos of some of the drawings that were done last year that are featured on the Altus Main Street website are indicative of some of the unheralded artistic talent that are found in Oklahoma’s smaller communities and it may be that some of those works will make there way to art galleries devoted to street art via cell phone images.

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.