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Banksy or Not, Seventh Ave. Street Art Successfully Provokes

Harlem resident and real estate broker Chyann was taken by both the visuals and the text, wondering it was the work of famous street artist Banksy.

PHOTOS AND REPORTING BY CHRISTIAN MILES | Passersby stopped in their tracks last week to contemplate the message, and origin, of street art that recently appeared on the newsstand across from the Fashion Institute of Technology (at Seventh Ave., near W. 28th St.). One side depicts a newsboy peddling papers, surrounded by text that seemingly refers to today’s divisive news coverage. The other panel addresses the need to communicate our human feelings while living in a concrete environment fueled, and ruled, by commerce.

Valerie, who had just arrived in New York from Vancouver, proclaimed the work to be “beautiful,” noting that for her, it acknowledges “that feeling of wanting some kind of connection, wanting something despite all our fears, that’s universal.”

“This is like a tribute entirely to Basquiat’s work,” said Sebastian, a native New Yorker living in Bushwick. “I appreciate that it’s actually put on the newsstand. I think street art that interacts with the thing it’s painted on is really interesting.” Sebastian expressed he felt there needs to be more work like this around the city — especially in Midtown, “like there used to be.”

Valerie, from Vancouver, said the newsstand art speaks to “wanting some kind of connection.”

Chyann, a real estate broker from Harlem, said, “It’s a lot. I was drawn to the ‘Criticism Never Sleeps.’ ” She pointed out what was written on the newspaper the boy was holding (it reads “Banksy is in NY”) and asked, “Is this a Banksy?,” referring to the famous, and famously anonymous, graffiti street artist. When she walked around to see the second panel, Chyann laughed. “I love it. ‘This big concrete ATM’ — that’s exactly what it [the city] is.” (In its current form, the visual and written content appears to be the work of more than one voice, with others having added to the original art.)

Several weeks ago, owner Pankaj Patel was approached by a man who said a “famous street artist” wanted to paint his newsstand.

Three weeks ago, Pankaj Patel, the owner of the newsstand, was approached by a man who said a famous street artist, who has done work in several places including New York and Mexico, wanted to paint his stand. Patel agreed. Several days passed. Then, coming to work early the next Saturday morning, he found the work had appeared overnight. “People have been very positive,” he said of the reactions from curious customers and passersby. “They are very happy.” Patel never met the artist, and doesn’t know his name.

Native New Yorker Sebastian approves, and wants more work like this around the city, “like there used to be.”

Multiple artists seem to take credit for various elements of work on the newsstand — but is any of it actually a Banksy?

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