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Banksy Booked @ KHCPL


The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library will be the first library in the world to host a Banksy: the Haight Street Rat.


Banksy is a legendary, stealth street artist from England. Since the early 1990s, he’s created political and social commentary street art on streets, walls, and bridges in cities around the world. When he was in San Francisco in 2010 for the release of the Exit Through the Gift Shop documentary, he stenciled the Haight Street Rat on the side of a bed-and-breakfast. For the art, Banksy stenciled a rat sporting a Che Guevara-like cap. The rat holds a paint pen in his hand and the start of a long, red line. At the other end of the line were the words “This is Where I Draw the Line.”


“If sold, it would likely bring in more than $1 million,” said Lisa Fipps, Director of Marketing and Community Engagement at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. “Each piece he creates is titled, but people regularly refer to any of his work simply as ‘a Banksy.’ Whenever people hear of Banksy being in a location, they flock to the area and watch for a Banksy to pop up. When it does, there’s a media and social media frenzy, and people try to remove pieces of the Banksy to keep – even if it means removing walls bit by bit. His street art is THAT in demand. Some people want a piece of a Banksy because of their love of street art; however, others remove pieces to sell for profit.”


Kokomo-Howard County Public Library downtown will host the 12-foot tall, 420-pound Haight (pronounced like eight with an h) Street Rat starting with the unveiling at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, during Kokomo’s Downtown First Friday. 


How can a piece of street art from San Francisco go on exhibit at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library? Art collector Brian Greif paid more than $40,000 to the bed-and-breakfast’s management to cover repairs to the structure in order to take down the wall. Art-restoration specialists mounted the wall slats on corrugated aluminum.


Grief then put the Haight Street Rat on tour, providing the host site be free to the public and promote the value of street art.


“One of our employees, Trina Evans, Branch Assistant, learned all about it by watching the documentary Saving Banksy,” Fipps said. “Library leaders talked about it and loved the idea. There was only one concern: Would the city fear a rash of graffiti? We talked with Mayor Greg Goodnight and Deputy Mayor David Tharp and they showed nothing but excitement about the idea of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library hosting a Banksy. The city welcomes more street art mural projects on various building and along trails.”


Contact Tharp to get approval for a street art building mural project: or 765.456.7447.


The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library expects people to come to Kokomo from surrounding cities and states to see the Banksy, and is partnering with the Greater Kokomo Visitors’ Bureau to help get the word out through various tourism channels to street art and Banksy fans.


The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library has several events planned for Banksy booked@KHCPL: 


Banksy Booked @ KHCPL Unveiling

5:30 to 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 4 * KHCPL Main

See the Haight Street Rat on the second floor of KHCPL Main, 220 N. Union St. Those who sign the guest book will receive a commemorative pin while supplies last. Children will practice street art by stenciling on the library’s windows, and street art in chalk on the sidewalks. There will be a station where everyone is invited to work on a community street art project. Enter the “What Would the Rat Say?” contest for a chance to win a basket of Banksy-related items. Roam the library to find posters and prints of other Banksys.


Beginning Street Art

2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19 * KHCPL Main

Even Banksy had to start somewhere. Young adult author Shannon Lee Alexander will explain the basic terminology and techniques for getting started with street art. You’ll make some portable street art to display at the library and to take home. She’ll also have her two novels, Love and Other Unknown Variables, and Life After Juliet, for sale and to autograph after the program. For teens and young adults.



Graffiti Art Lettering

6:00 to 7:00 p.m. * Monday, Sept. 18 * KHCPL South

Transform your name into graffiti art. Join us for an evening of DIY fun! All supplies provided. Space limited. Call 453.4150 or visit to register. For teens and young adults.


“The more people learn of Banksy booked@KHCPL, the more ideas to promote street art during the time of the exhibit surface,” Fipps said. “So there could be additional events or programs announced at a later date. To stay abreast of what’s going on with Banksy booked@KHCPL, note that all social media posts will include the #Banksybooked@KHCPL hashtag.”