A piece of street art salvaged from the industrial ruins of Detroit makes its first public appearance in two years – in a jail-turned-art gallery. The mural, believed to be the work of the elusive street artist Banksy, shows a boy with a paintbrush and can next to the words, “I remember when all this was trees.”
The artwork’s original home was on the wall of an old auto plant that’s since been pulled apart. On Friday, after a legal dispute that began in 2010, the piece will be on display at a former Detroit police station that’s been converted into an art studio and gallery.
In 2010, artists from Detroit’s 555 Gallery removed the mural from the crumbling Packard plant in the name of preserving it, and have since kept the piece under wraps.
Amid the buzz about “Exit Through the Gift Shop,"the Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary featuring Banksy, the Packard site’s owners sued the gallery for removing the artwork without permission.
The parties recently settled the dispute, and the gallery paid $2,500 for the wall art, estimated to be worth $100,000.
The lawsuit wasn’t the only challenge to how the gallery acquired the mural -- the art community questioned whether a piece of street art should be lifted from its intended locale.
“It was one of the last walls standing in a large area of debris,” 555 director Carl Goines told the Detroit News. “Our justification was we felt it was a valuable piece by a well-known international artist here in Detroit worth preserving.”