Rogue artist targets Houston museum

August 25, 2009 4:30:05 PM PDT
A controversial artist showcased his work at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston this weekend. The problem is, he wasn't part of any museum exhibit. It also wasn't the first high profile museum where he's shown his own work without anyone's permission.We don't know what Mat Benote looks like or where he is, and that's exactly how he wants to keep it. But we do know he is crisscrossing the country, sneaking into museums and plastering his art on their walls without even being discovered. We spoke to the artist on the phone.

"I painted one large painting and divided it into 12 sections and each museum is getting one of those sections," Benote explained.

A self-proclaimed rogue artist, Benote picked a dozen of what he considers the best museums in the country to hit. He struck at the Guggenheim in New York, and last weekend, here at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Benote says because so few museums consider sharing works with each other, he hopes his efforts will get more museums to work together and share the art they have with other museums around the country.

He said, "I sneak the pieces in. I have it divided up so I can bring it in as long as I'm careful, get it in unbeknownst." Benote says the panels he sneaks in are small enough to stuff into a bag and he doesn't hammer them onto the wall. Instead, he's more gentle.

"I'm taping them up, so that it's not actually causing permanent damage," Benote said.

Over this past weekend, Benote did just that and managed to sneak four panels into the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The museum director chose not to comment, saying he doesn't want to encourage this type of activity. Meanwhile, museum visitors we spoke on Tuesday didn't seem to mind Benote's effort.

"I think it's cool," said one visitor. "They should keep it up."

Another said, "He's not doing any harm to anyone. If anything, it's the opposite, you know. He's adding more beauty to our world."

A spokesperson for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston says they have taken Benote's art down. She says they have not filed a police report and do not plan to press charges.

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