Yes, those are Banksy prints outside a bathroom at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
(This story has been updated to correct the name of the Barbara Jordan Terminal at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in photo captions.)
Unless you count air that smells of delicious pizza, or the whooshing of water faucets, no pomp nor circumstance invites travelers to peer a little closer at the art behind a clear glass wall sitting in front of a men's restroom near gate 10 at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
But if travelers slowed down, they could pause outside that restroom to see the iconic work of Banksy, a fabled street artist whose identity is unknown. Yes, that Banksy. The one whose work has appeared on the West Bank, and whose "Girl with a Balloon" painting shredded itself after being sold at an auction.
Five Banksy prints and a sculpture are on display in the airport's Clarksville Gallery. They will remain there through March, said Cory Hurless, arts program manager at the airport.
The pieces of art are: "Watchtower," "Laugh Now Monkey," "Happy Choppers," "Girl with Balloon," "Love Rat," and "Kate Moss - Original Colourway." The pieces you're likely to recognize, even if you've never heard of Banksy, are "Girl with Balloon" and "Love Rat," as they are mostly black with red accents.
The installation is part of the airport's Changing Exhibit program, which features art on a rotating schedule. Galleries are located throughout the airport and are named after Austin neighborhoods, Hurless said.
The exhibit and art program at the airport started in 1999. The airport does not purchase any of the art that is displayed. Art from the Mexic-Arte Museum, Capitol Arts Society, and the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City has been featured in the galleries, among others.
Travelers can expect Earth Day-related art to replace Banksy in the spring, airport officials said.
Is Banksy the biggest artist the airport has had? Yes, Hurless said. So how the heck did the Austin airport acquire these?
Hurless received an email from Lou Resig over the summer. Resig, his wife, Tiffany, and his brother, John, wanted to see if there was interest in showing their Banksy collection at the airport. The Resig brothers are the founders of the Chive, and Atmosphere TV, which is a streaming service for businesses.
The pieces came to the airport at no cost, Hurless said.
"I was kind of moved by the fact that they have this really expensive collection that they don't want to keep to themselves, they want to share it," she added. "And the airport's a great place because you get a lot more eyes on it than you would if it was just sitting in a home or in a gallery somewhere."