Photos by G. Most art by Hanksy (see captions for details).
On March 28 and 29 2015, street artist Hanksy threw one of the most fun pop-up exhibits in recent memory. Located at 104 Delancey Street in Manhattan, the exhibit was called “Best of the Worst,” and it was housed in a vacant building on the Lower East Side.
Whereas a lot of street artists (and I’m not going to name names otherwise we’ll be here until next week) have tasted a tiny bit of success becoming Instagram-famous, their art started to suck (even more than it already did in some cases) while their egos exploded, I think Hanksy really kicked it up a notch and took it to the next level for “Best of the Worst.”
For those who need a primer on Hanksy, I first happened upon his art on the streets of New York in 2011, where he superimposed actor Tom Hanks’ face over a rat, an image made famous by the street artist collective Banksy. It was extremely clever and I remember being delighted each time I ran into a new piece as he mixed street art, celebrity culture and puns in a way that I’d never seen before.
I wasn’t the only one to enjoy his art, and in less than one year, Hanksy was not only showing his art in the streets but also in galleries. Flash forward to 2015, where Hanksy obtained a vacant space in the Lower East Side and turned it into Hanksy-world. With lines around the block to get in for the duration of the 2 day event, once inside you were treated to quite a fun little scene.
There was art, not only by Hanksy, but by a host of hot street artists (such as Handed Wave, Frank Ape, Magda Love, Clint Mario, Gilf!, Hue, CB23, Don’t Fret, Lexi Belle, Nda, Elle, Roycer, Joseph Meloy, Beau, Claw Money, Tony Depew, and Col Walnuts) in a gallery within a gallery, appropriately called the ‘Gag-osian Gallery,’ but also, a DJ spun tunes, there was a photo booth, video games, a skateboarding ramp, a balloon artist who was making balloons shaped like penises for guests, free beer and dumplings!
Approximately 20 Hanksy originals were on display and very inexpensive prints were for sale as well.
Because Hanksy’s identity is not disclosed to the public, he was able to wander about the gallery anonymously to enjoy seeing the fruits of his labor without being mobbed for selfies. He told me that it took about a week to set up and once the show is over, he has just a few days to take it all down. On the final day of the show, I was filming an Instagram video of the exhibit (“for 10 likes,” I joked, and as of press time, I was not wrong) and Hanksy reminded me that his suggestion to me via Twitter inspired me to sign up for an account. So for all of my great and not so great Instagram pix, blame Hanksy! Follow us both, just click on the links and hit follow!
To all the street artists out there that are just taking the most recognized images of famous icons and doing little to alter the image and then claiming the work as their own, “Best of the Worst” should serve as a nice little reminder of what bringing your A-Game looks like, or in this case – your H game. Well done, Hanksy!