Four effortful years in the “saving”, an original 10 ft. x 10 ft. Banksy mural will be unveiled in a former cotton mill warehouse situated along the railroad tracks in Bywater, a gritty and creative neighborhood just downriver from the French Quarter. The warehouse is slated to become part of a highly anticipated residential loft project, via Latrobe, which will include more than 40 street art murals. But in the meantime, the 30-foot corrugated exterior wall of StudioBE will be the patinaed “silver screen” for the feature film documentary, Saving Banksy, written and directed by gifted artist and filmmaker Colin Day. Following a brief Q&A with the director, the spotlight will shift to a panel discussion that includes some of the world’s best known street muralists and graffiti sprayers, a top conservationist, and collectors, invited by New Orleans natives, friends, and collaborators, Sean Cummings and Brandan “BMike” Odums. The discussion, moderated by actor, author and long-time Cummings friend, Hill Harper (Good Doctor, CSI New York, He Got Game), will include the legendary British graffiti artist and stencil mural pioneer, Nick Walker, who ran the streets of Bristol with Banksy, New Orleans artist/activist Brandan Odums, New Orleans born and Los Angeles based graffiti artist RISK, internationally recognized conservationist Elise Grenier, and one of the nation’s most talented muralists, SWOON, who appeared in the Banksy cult-classic documentary, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP.
Cummings has long been a champion of New Orleans street artists, as well as icons in the space like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy, whose arrestingly beautiful murals and tags, as well as larger-than-life voices, made indelible and positive impacts on New Orleans during their runs through town.
Cummings’ and Harper’s great admiration of rebels, artists and activists has not only shaped their lives and friendship, but compelled them to “save” this Banksy from the wrecking ball and taggers who destroyed and defaced 10 of Banksy’s 14 stenciled murals in New Orleans. This 1200-pound work of art is one of four remaining “Bansky’s” from the famous street artist’s 2008 visit to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Cummings and Harper retained a duo of expert conservationists, Michael Davidson and Elise Grenier, to uncover the hidden mural known as “Looters”. They consciously chose not to restore it to its “original” state, but rather as an “authentic architectural artifact”, says Cummings. “There is a patina to this mural. It tells the story of not only of how time has worn on the art but how time wears on New Orleans.”