Waco’s art scene is about to get a major facelift. Tonight, from 6 to 11 p.m., Cultivate 7twelve, an art gallery and event space in the heart of downtown Waco, is pulling the curtain back on one of the most famous street artists in the world—Banksy.
Banksy, an England-based anonymous artist whose provocative and detailed street art has graced walls in major cities such as New York, London and Gaza, has been the subject of exaltation and criticism alike.
Brian Greif, an art conservator and street art enthusiast, took it upon himself to preserve Banksy’s creations in San Francisco after many of them were painted over by business owners and critics. After investing $32,000 of his personal funds in the preservation of Banksy’s art, Greif and a team of professionals were able to remove one of Banksy’s pieces — the Haight Street Rat — from the wall of a Haight Street building, and were able to preserve the art in a frame. Ever since this removal took place in 2010, Greif has been taking Banksy’s art on the road, sharing just a small piece of Banksy’s talent with local communities.
During the month of September, Banksy’s Haight Street Rat will make its way to the bright white walls of Cultivate 7twelve, a Waco-based collective created with the purpose of shining light on the vibrant artistic community of Waco. The exhibition will not only feature the Banksy piece, but also 29 pieces by local waco artists, all curated by director Rebekah Hagman, Creative Waco executive director Fiona Bond and abstract artist Ty Nathan Clark.
“Literally hundreds of galleries are pursuing him [Greif] to have him come to their city,” Cultivate 7twelve exhibition manager Victoria Howle said.
Howle credits local business owner Summer Shine, who is the mind behind Luna Juice, and who is a major advocate for the Waco arts community, as the reason Banksy’s piece has come to Waco.
“Summer came to us and said, ‘hey, your space is big enough, let’s bring the piece here,'” Howle said. “I was able to apply for a grant through Creative Waco, which is Waco’s local art agency, and we got the grant and we’ve brought the piece here,”
All of the artists featured in the exhibition have a focus on street art, and many are also returning artists to the Cultivate 7twelve gallery.
“In my opinion, Waco is at the beginning of a cultural art renaissance, in terms of we have an amazing opportunity to decide who we want to be,” Cultivate 7twelve founder Rebekah Hagman said. “The question asked of us is ‘who is this for,’ ‘who will Waco’s art be for?’ and I think that’s really what Banksy is asking, is ‘who should be able to see fine art?’ I think those are really critical questions we should be asking for at this juncture of cultural growth.”
The exhibition will be free and open to the public from Friday, Sept. 7 to Saturday, Sept. 29, but tonight’s event will feature a special showing of Greif’s 2017 documentary “Saving Banksy,” a cocktail hour catered by Luna Juice catering, a viewing of the exhibition and a lecture and Q&A session with Greif. For those interested, tickets are still on sale for $30 a person. Cocktail attire is requested.