Most of the world is now more than familiar with Banksy, the English street artist who’s name remains a complete secret. But a few more people are getting to know Hanksy, an American-born artist who has a deep love of puns. And while no one is going to say he’s making as political an impact as his English sort-of mentor, we still enjoy seeing his work.
Hanksy itself is a mash-up of Tom Hanks and Banksy, which is more just the name of the artist’s original series, which took famous Banksy pieces and put Tom Hanks in them. Think that famous Banksy of the riot guy throwing a bunch of flowers, but instead of flowers, it’s Wilson from Cast Away, and instead of some guy in a riot, it’s Tom Hanks. Pretty great, right? A lot of people think so.
Since his Hanksy pieces in 2012, the artist has become something of a street artist smirk, giggle and occasional eye roll. Pieces like writing “or swim” in a discarded sink or a portrait of Rick Moranis on the side of a van with the phrase “Rick Morevanis” beside it have been showing up all over America. Hanksy, it seems, isn’t really convinced that his art is changing the world, but he’s certainly having a lot of fun along the way.
Which Brings us to Hanksy’s latest project, a whirlwind tour of the “forgotten” cities of North America, the places that aren’t always showing up on people’s “this place has great street art radar.” Well, if we’re being totally honest, he’s going to places that aren’t New York, L.A., or Toronto and seeing what their street art scene is like. The idea came to him when he experienced a boom in popularity for his pun-ny art. “There’s a bunch of art getting painted on walls between New York City and LA,” Hanksy said in a recent interview, “And it’s my opinion that if a knucklehead artist like myself is randomly given some weird pseudo-serious spotlight, they use it for good not evil. The best thing I can do is show what’s up and what’s going down in the smaller markets of North America. Elevating others always beats out the dog-eat-dog.”
Looking at all those Art Scenes That Aren’t NYC or LA
Each episode in the series focuses on a different city, where the usually irreverent Hanksy seems to fall in love with everything around him, to the point of practically wanting to move there by the end of the episode. It’s funny, doing a good thing, but is also showing that Hanksy isn’t really wanting to take anything seriously, including romanticizing these forgotten places, which in itself is less condescending and much more humanizing. Middle America, or the Real America, as it’s sometimes called, is often completely ignored, stereotyped, or approached with apologies. In Surplus Candy, Hanksy is less interested in pandering to any audience and more just mischievously showing that amazing street art happens everywhere. And that’s a great thing.