No one really knows exactly when it started, these crude, spray-painted visages of Bart Simpson that have been spotted throughout Winston-Salem in recent months, thrown up in haste on abandoned buildings, construction sites, hard-to-reach blank walls and, even, a Dumpster.
But everybody loves Bartsy, as the anonymous tagger has been dubbed. He’s the talk of barrooms and Facebook groups, the scourge of law enforcement and the arts establishment, a smarmy rebuttal to the four- and five-figure murals that have been so carefully commissioned and executed throughout the Triad.
The work is simplistic, based on those early, “Tracy Ullman Show” episodes by Matt Groening that eventually morphed into the Bart Simpson we know today: The hair is spiky, the eyes more pronounced, the lips just a bit overblown. Sometimes he’s got a soul patch or an earring, or both; sometimes he’s jet black or stark white or true Simpsons yellow; sometimes he’s just an outline. But the pose is always the same: a three-quarter profile of America’s favorite brat, brought to us by an anonymous artist who, like his namesake Banksy, allows us to project all our hopes and dreams on his process and motivations.
A blurry still of the artist pulled from surveillance video and released by the Winston-Salem Journal in late August only deepened the enigma.
Meanwhile, the Bartsys (Bartsies?) are slowly being removed from the landscape by people who just don’t understand.
So we present a map and photo essay of every Bartsy we could find, including the ones that are no longer with us, along with an invitation to all the haters to eat our shorts. And we ask our readers to send us any new Bartsy they find out there in the wild so we can complete the study.
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An altweekly veteran of more than 20 years, Brian studied journalism at Loyola University New Orleans and wrote for the Gambit before moving to the NC Piedmont Triad. He has been covering this market in publications like the News & Record, Our State, O. Henry magazine and Yes! Weekly since 2000.