Controversial New York Artist Struggles with an Evil Secret

New York’s art scene has been in an uproar over the last month thanks to British street artist Banksy, who took up a self-imposed residency across the five boroughs, leaving his graffiti, installations, and many puzzled onlookers in his wake.

“The question of what is and is not art is an ongoing, ages-old debate,” says Richard Wold, author of the new thriller-romance novel “Stan,” in which a controversial New York artist struggles with his identity and a hidden, evil secret. “And everyone has a different opinion. Some think Banksy is a genius. Others, like Mayor Bill de Blasio, think he’s just a plain old criminal. Who’s to say who is right?”

Banksy’s run in the US, entitled “Better Out Than In,” began in early October and featured his trademark stencil-style wall graffiti, a truck driving around the city full of animatronic animals, and the artist himself setting up a booth in Central Park to sell his sketches incognito.

“Like him or not, you have to admit he’s innovative,” says Mr. Wold. “And that’s the sort of character I was going for with Stan. His art goes beyond questionable and into downright detestable at times, yet people still love him. This novel asks the question ‘how low can we go—in art or in life—before we become truly unable to be saved?’” 

New York has long been known for its controversial art, including:

• A life-size, anatomically correct statue of Jesus made out of chocolate by artist Cosimo Cavallaro in 2007

• Arne Svenson’s 2013 photos of residents of a luxury apartment building at home—taken from his apartment next door without the subjects’ permission

• Andres Serrano’s photograph of a crucifix immersed in urine, which caused an uproar at its debut in 1989 and returned to NYC in October 2013

In Stan: The Awakening, New York artist Stan Foster survives a suicide attempt and is plagued by amnesia and visions of death and destruction that fuel his ever-more disturbing work. Eventually he comes to believe he is Satan spit out from the bowels of hell to live among the mortal inhabitants of earth. Is he delusional, or is there truth behind this troubling revelation?

One woman can help him find out. Enter Abigail: lapsed Catholic, lonely city dweller, and psychiatrist with a heart of gold. Meeting Stan makes her question everything she’s believed about faith and humanity for so long, but she must overcome her own troubled background to offer him the redemption he needs—and ultimately wants.

“It’s a classic tale of vice and virtue. We all search our souls at some point, wondering what our purpose is in life,” says Mr. Wold. “Stan just unfortunately finds more than he bargained for.”

Richard Wold is a business owner and consultant. He currently lives in Gurnee, Illinois. Stan is his first novel.

(“Stan” by Richard Wold; ISBN: 978-0-615-80592-4; $13.95; e-book and softcover; 5½” x 8½”; 280 pages)

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