I’m at a cigar lounge in Chicago, Illinois, I get into a conversation with a guy. Mexican dissent, good-looking guy, tells me he’s an “Artisan.” I like art, I ask, what’s your medium? And he tells me. Painting, sculpture, etcetera. I say, you have any pictures on your phone? He pauses, then says, yeah. He gets out his phone, looks for pictures. He’s across from me, with a big coffee table between us. He finds pictures, I get up, we meet halfway around the table, sit down. I look at his art, it’s legit. We’re talking museum quality. I don’t ask him how much, bc it would be uncouth, and I know I couldn’t afford it anyway.
We get to talking, he asks me where I’m from, of course, we know some mutual people. Insert: It’s a small world. We talk about our mutuals, he knows an ex-girlfriend of mine. His wife worked with her at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City back in the day. I tell him a fond memory, Nell taking me to Prairie Lights before prom, it’s closed down but she has keys, and set up in there, is candles, rose pedals, champagne and strawberries. Nell, if you’re out there and reading this, thank you for a wonderful night I’ll never forget.
We get to talking about the art world, he name drops famous artists he knows. It’s ok, bc I’m eating it up. So I ask him the big question:
Have you ever met Banksy?
He says, actually, I have.
I say, please tell me more.
If you don’t know anything about Banksy, you live under a rock, with a lot of moss growing on it.
Fine. I’ll tell you what you need to know to appreciate this story. He’s a famous graffiti artist, and no one knows who he is. Ok I’m sure some do, but no one like myself, some random dude who bartends in Iowa.
My new friend says, so…my art dealer picks me up for lunch, and on our way, he says, I have to tell you, we’re meeting a friend of mine for lunch. It’s Banksy. Please don’t ask him any questions about his work, he won’t like it.
Holy shit. For me, this story is turning into the Holy Grail of stories. I’m about to find out who Banksy is. A HUGE interesting GLOBAL mystery for years since his brilliant work started showing up on dilapidated walls in England.
He says, we get to lunch, I meet him, and he’s just this regular guy. Looks kind of unkept, with long hair. He seemed very blue collar. Working class. And I thought it made sense. He didn’t seem like this revolutionary guy.
I say, but his work is very revolutionary.
He says, true. And I’ll put something to rest for you. He’s NOT the Massive Attack guy.
This is a HUGE thing for him to reveal, bc if you read up on the Banksy mystery, there’s been researchers that are convinced that Banksy is a guy from a band called Massive Attack. We’re talking, a guy wrote a BOOK on this, and his conclusion was such. I’m here at this cigar lounge that’s MET HIM, and in one stroke, debunks the whole theory.
My mouth is salivating, I’m getting goosebumps, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, and I ask the million dollar question, as nonchalant as I can muster:
So…what’s his name?
He takes a pause, then says,
….THAT I can’t tell you.
Now don’t get your panties in a bunch fine people. Bc there’s a little bit more to this story.
I say, actually, I’ve done a bit of research on this subject, and I have a theory on who Banksy is. He says, is that right?
I say, what if I show you a picture of this guy I think is Banksy? You don’t have to confirm it, just, maybe, give me a smile.
He thinks for a second, then says, …maybe.
I get out my phone, find a picture of the possible Banksy, hand him my phone.
He looks at it. Then touches the screen with his fingers, to expand the picture.
He looks closely at the picture, looks up after a moment, hands me back the phone,