Saturday, February 26, 2011

OCEANSIDE: Graffiti artist Banksy suspected in Bull Taco Shop tagging

UPDATE: Oceanside Rat mural is not a Banksy

UPDATE 2: Rat mural removed in Oceanside

Restaurant becomes instant tourist attraction.

An internationally known graffiti artist may have struck in Oceanside, painting a big fat white rat on the side of a South Coast Highway taco shop.

By midday, dozens of people were flocking to Bull Taco to photograph or just get a peek at the mural, purportedly painted overnight by the British artist who goes by the moniker "Banksy."

Bull Taco co-owner Justin Lewis said his first inclination was to paint over the rat.

"It doesn't look appetizing, a rat on the side of a restaurant," Lewis said. "It's kind of a clashing concept."

He said he figured "someone's messing with us."

Then the phone calls started, from as far away as London, from people wanting to know if the stories they've heard were true, that Banksy's at it again.

Lewis said he didn't know anything about Banksy before, but he sure does now.

"I learned all this stuff from people calling me on the phone, telling me that they study him," Lewis said.

Now, Lewis said he's trying to figure out the best way to preserve the painting and protect it from taggers, who might deface it.

"I feel like I'm famous," Lewis said.

He's even thinking about putting up a board or something else that others could tag so they'll leave the rat alone.

And this is one fancy rat, taking up about a third of the outside wall of the building, sporting glasses with lenses in the shape of glistening stars.

The rat is flying a kite in the form of the familiar freeway signs posted along some San Diego County freeways, cautioning motorists to be on the lookout for undocumented immigrants crossing freeway traffic lanes. The signs show three figures holding hands as they run.

Nobody could say for certain if the Bull Taco mural was Banksy's work, but the entertainment news website TMZ reported that it was Banksy's signature rodent and that the artist was busy earlier this month painting huge mice on a Hollywood billboard.

The reclusive artist has been nominated for a best documentary Academy Award for his film, "Exit Through the Gift Shop," which shows Banksy at work.

Why he picked Oceanside for one of his creations was a mystery, but several workers at Bull Taco speculated that he's in Southern California for the Oscars, stumbled by accident on Bull Taco and figured its large blank black wall was the perfect canvas.

The restaurant is just a few blocks west of Interstate 5 at the corner of South Coast Highway and Vista Way.

"Maybe he was cruising for a place, and it doesn't get any better than this," said Chris Dougherty, whose Quiver Board Works surf shop shares the building with Bull Taco.

Dougherty said he learned of the rat mural when he got a phone call from a friend around 5:30 a.m. Friday.

"He left me a message saying the most famous graffiti artist tagged our building," Dougherty said. "I said, 'hmm, whatever,' then I came up here and saw people staring at it."

His first reaction was to keep an eye on a nearby can of paint to make sure that no one grabbed it to paint over the rat.

"No one's touching that wall," Dougherty said.

He also took photographs of the mural and planned to print up T-shirts with images of the mural on them. (IMHO: IT'S ONLY BUSINESS...)

The mural was such a draw Friday that restaurant cook Keith Wagner said he stayed late to help out and other workers who came to look at it also stayed to handle the unusually large crush of customers.

"It's going to be a ruckus here all weekend," Dougherty said.

UPDATE: Oceanside Rat mural is not a Banksy

UPDATE 2: Rat mural removed in Oceanside

Taken from: NcTimes

To see more about BANKSY, CLICK HERE!


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