Banksy hits Bowery wall, former bank in Big Apple return

The new mural — a Bansky / Borf collaboration — of imprisoned Turkish artist / journalist Zehra Dogan on the Houston St. “graffiti wall.” Photos by Tequila Minsky

Banksy returned to New York City this past week, painting a mural on Houston St. honoring a jailed Turkish artist, and adding a scurrying rat to the clock of an old bank building slated for demolition on W. 14th St.

The artwork on the famed “mural wall,” just west of the Bowery, highlights the plight of Zehra Dogan, an ethnic Kurd who is also a journalist who was imprisoned for painting a watercolor with a Turkish flag over Nasyabin, a Kurdish town destroyed by the Turkish military. She was jailed after posting the image on social media.

The five-story mural includes black marks symbolizing the number of Dogan’s days behind bars. At night, a caption is projected onto it: “Sentenced to 2 years, 9 months, 22 days for painting this.”

Banksy was reportedly joined by Borf, a fellow graffitist, in creating the Houston St. work.

Banksy added a rat to the former bank clock at 14th St. and Sixth Ave. Less than a week later, the building’s owner removed it, reportedly to auction it.

“One year ago Zehra Dogan was jailed for painting this watercolour of a photograph she saw in the newspaper,” the mysterious British street artist wrote in an Instagram post. “Protest against this injustice. Sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a single picture.”

Just days after the mural was installed, it was tagged, but then quickly restored.

At the former bank building, at the northwest corner of W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave., Banksy left a much smaller mark — a rat scampering counterclockwise on the face of a clock. Some interpreted it as a typical Banksy anticapitalist critique of the “rat race” since the site is slated for development.

Saying he was not Banksy, a man handed out fliers for “street art addicts.”

In 2013, Banksy spent a month in the Big Apple, creating a piece of street art daily.

Saturday, in front of the former bank, street-art fans and curious passersby snapped photos of the rat piece. Meanwhile, a man who denied being Banksy handed out brochures offering “street art addicts” a number to call for help. An apparent homeless man was hunkered down in front of the bank eating and smoking — but was he Banksy…or perhaps part of the art? No one seemed to notice him.

Tuesday morning, the building owner removed the Banksy-fied clock face, reportedly with plans to auction it, according to blog Hyperallergic.

The scene in front of the former bank this past Saturday.

A message from chalk artist Hans Honschar welcoming Banksy back to New York City.

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