- Title: USA: Banksy's New York pet store with a difference
- Date: 25th October 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF AN ANIMATRONIC MONKEY SITTING IN A CAGE WATCHING TELEVISION MONKEY "HOLDING" A TV REMOTE
- Embargoed: 9th November 2008 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA4Q3I9OUP7KTKHXH40O1T4LCQU
- Story Text: British street artist Banksy creates a curious collection of life-like animals in his New York pseudo pet shop.
Cult British street artist Banksy, whose works can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars and are popular with some of the world's biggest stars, has created the "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" in New York's Greenwich Village.
The store is a menagerie of animals, fish and even a Tweety bird cartoon character look-alike, but all the "animals" in this pet shop are fake animatronics.
Unlike other Banksy exhibitions, the opening of the "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" was not publicized and for the first week, crowds were drawn by a life-like leopard snoozing in a front window.
Banksy, who still keeps his identity hidden, said that New Yorkers care about their pets more than they care about art, and so he has decided to exhibit pets instead.
There has been a steady stream of visitors to the small space since it opened. Some of them are not sure what message Banksy is communicating.
I'm still not really sure what this place is, but it's like, it's like one of the coolest art galleries, I guess, that I've seen in my entire life.
It's incredible," said Banksy fan, Lev Litvinov.
"I've no idea, I don't know. I think he's just playing around with different stuff," said Isaac Berman, who was visiting from Montreal, Canada.
"It definitely talks about what our culture is and how sad it is in a sense and how processed it is, with these weiner pets," said Rose Barling.
Banksy made a name for himself painting stenciled satirical and political images in public spaces.
His instantly memorable images -- from kissing policemen to teddy bears wielding Molotov cocktails -- are now sought after and avidly collected.
Owners of his works range from Christina Aguilera to Angelina Jolie.
Pet store workers Linda Mietlowski and Ron Atkins told Reuters that, besides the leopard in the window, the model of a Rhesus monkey draws the most attention. The animatronic creature sits in a cage, its chest heaving as if breathing and its eyes darting and blinking as it "watches"
television. A beer can and empty cigarette pack lie next to its feet.
"Well, he's pretty strong, but I try and sneak up when he's watching and you know, replace his beer cans. As long as he's got his beer and his cigarettes, he's happy, like any man," joked store worker Ron Atkins.
Linda Mietlowski says that the monkey is very popular. "We've had so many people who just stand there and stare and say, 'I think it's real, I really think it's real.' One lady told me, 'I'm coming back tomorrow because I want to make sure he's in a different position," she said.
Banksy started out as teenage graffiti artist in his hometown of Bristol in western England, using a spray can on walls, curbs and railway bridges.
Eager to stay one step ahead of the police with his instant art, he grew speedier and more adept when switching to stencils to shape his trademark images.
The "Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill" will be open daily until October 31. After opening hours, the store lights will remain switched on so that passers-by may still catch a glimpse of some of the zany creatures.
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