Haight Street Rat: By Banksy. On display in the window facing Montgomery Street. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 21-July 11. 836m, 836 Montgomery St., S.F. Free. www.836m.org.
Banksy’s 'Haight Street Rat’ graffiti holes up in an S.F. gallery
By Rachel Howard (original)
Updated 1:59 pm, Monday, January 19, 2015
A graffiti work by the stealth artist Banksy is back in its original street habitat — sort of.
Through July 11, the image known as “Haight Street Rat,” spray-painted on the side of a bed-and-breakfast in 2010 when Banksy was in San Francisco for the release of his documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” will be viewable to anyone who passes down the 800 block of Montgomery Street, though the 12-foot-tall work will be protected behind the glass facade of 836M, a nonprofit gallery near the Transamerica Pyramid.
The stenciled rat, which wears a Che Guevara-style cap and clutches a Magic Marker, no longer appears accompanied by the work’s original text, “THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE.” But “to me, this is as close as you can get to the intention that Banksy had, given the fact that the piece was salvaged and restored,” said Sebastien Lepinard, founder of the investment firm Next World Group and co-founder of 836M with his wife, Julie.
The Lepinards became interested in displaying the work after reading a Chronicle report on the efforts of Brian Greif, former general manager of the defunct KRON-TV, who in 2010 persuaded the owner of the vandalized Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast to let him remove 10 redwood siding planks on which the rat was painted. Greif took the painting to art-restoration specialists, who mounted the slats on corrugated aluminum. He raised $10,000 to offset costs through a Kickstarter campaign, promising never to sell the work, even though other Banksy creations have sold at auction for more than $1 million. Greif then tried to donate “Haight Street Rat” to various museums, but without a letter of authentication from the artist, the institutions said they would not accept the work.