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Last Chance to Rat Out Banksy

Slightly awkward partnering of street art and gallery ends this week.

 

This is your last chance to see the iconic Banksy rat in San Francisco, at least for the time being. The Haight Street Rat, as it’s usually called, first appeared on the side of the Red Victorian one May morning in 2010 and for the last six months has been on display at 836M in the heart of the financial district. Now it’s set to scurry off into some other warren after Friday.

De facto owner Brian Greif spent years negotiating the display, insisting that the rat, a stencil sketch, should be visible in the city of its spawning. Greif, a street art aficionado and former KRON-TV GM, says that when he first set eyes on the piece he was almost the last one: Now-deceased Red Vic owner Sami Sunchild had just arrived from the hardware store with a bucket of paint to restore her building.

“I tried to explain to her that this wasn’t ordinary graffiti and to please just let me talk to her,” Greif said at the 836M unveiling back in January. Eventually he negotiated the removal of the entire 400 pound section of wall. Since then the rat has lived a vagabond existence, as no museum will accept him without an authenticating letter from the artist. Who we’re sure is getting right on that.

The 836M display was always a bit of an odd fit. On one hand, it’s cool to see the real deal, the gallery abides by the artist’s demands that the public have access to preserved work, and at least it‘s not in LA anymore. But surely taking street art indoors misses the point somehow, and when gallery types are quizzed about how they interpret the piece or what it means to them most only keep circling back to talking about its significance to art history.

Still, if you want to catch it, catch it before it’s gone. 836M is open to the public tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday, 11 AM-4 PM, and then it’s evicted once again.

 

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