Was it the world famous artist, the mysterious Banksy recently in Wine Country? If so, the only evidence was a piece of street art that was reportedly spotted Thursday night in Windsor.
Mutt Lynch Winery owner and winemaker Brenda Lynch noticed something new Saturday morning next to the Windsor Masonic Lodge building. He found a picture of a silhouetted girl with a red, heart-shaped balloon she was holding. In the lower-right corner was the supposed signature of the artist: Banksy.
“I went to park near the Masonic Lodge to drop off some wine for my tasting room and I was hooked!” Lynch said. “I go there from time to time and the last time I came there was on Thursday and there was no one there. I knew exactly what it was.”
He didn’t waste time and immediately ran into his tasting room and told the people there.
“A group of people came out taking pictures and asking, ‘Is it true? How do you know that? Sometimes he says it and sometimes he doesn’t,’” Lynch said.
Banksy is considered a political icon and is known for constantly adding performance elements to his work. His identity is unknown – although speculation abounds.
Neither the police nor the head of the Windsor Masonic Lodge could be reached for comment about the street art. Whether it would be accepted or treated as unauthorized graffiti on private property is yet to be determined.
But Beth Henry, executive director of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce, and chamber board member Laurie Scott Shimizu were excited about the possibility of a Banksy piece.
“The town could use this,” said Shimizu, of Mark Shimizu Design in Windsor. “Apparently he posts videos on his Instagram to share (what he sees) but so far he hasn’t posted anything. We have our social media girl on it. … Whether it’s true or not, it’s an interesting buzz thing.
“We think he’s here enjoying the Wine Country,” Henry added. “Windsor is as cute as a girl with a balloon.”
Longtime Windsor Town Council member Deb Fudge said she heard about it through a post on Lynch’s Facebook page and quickly recognized the art.
“If he came through town and it was a sign of his presence here, it would be interesting,” Fudge said. “Technically it can be called graffiti, but I call it informal public art. If it’s him, and even if it’s not, it’s a good thing. It’s something that makes you smile.”
There is no other indication that Banksy has been visiting the site, according to social media. He was recently believed to have been in war-torn Ukraine, where he is said to have created art last month on buildings from Kyiv to Borodyanka.
While Banksy’s art is just as hard to pin down as his popularity, San Francisco was once home to at least six of his works. The only one left is the “Bird Singing in the Tree” in the Mission neighborhood, which can be seen through the fence at the corner of Erie and Mission streets, according to travel website Lonely Planet.
The unauthorized exhibition, which featured many of Banksy’s works that were purchased by the public, ran from November 2021 to February 2022 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. His work can also be seen in the US in New York City, New Orleans and Park City, Utah.
The Windsor art may be the first Banksy piece in Sonoma County, and if it was indeed created by the famous artist, it found a suitable home near Lynch’s winery.
He is an avid fan, follows the political artist and filmmaker on Instagram, bought a book about him and watched a documentary about him and his art.
“I like that we are talking about art. I love that people who used to be considered vandals are now being recognized as creators,” Lynch said. “This opens the door for me to tell people that this is a good boy. If we can get people to come out and look at art in Windsor, that would be great. “
You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at 707-521-5209 or [email protected]