Updated at the bottom: Sons of Anarchy producer Kurt Sutter says his show had nothing to do with the take-down. Our headline has been revised to reflect this claim.
Someone just painted over a mural that went up at Willow and Santa Fe in downtown Los Angeles only one-and-a-half months ago.
But now it's gone. And according to big-name L.A. graffer Saber, the culprit is Kurt Sutter, writer/producer/director of Sons of Anarchy, that FX show about a motorcycle gang in the Central Valley.
"It's funny how these TV directors come into a neighborhood, steal the art imagery, destroy other works then move on leaving a pile of shit," writes Saber today. Some more chronicles in his epic Twitter rant:
WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE IN THE PUBLIC? ART OR ADVERTISEMENT PROMOTING CRAPPY TV? @20thcenturyfox Vandalizes mural in LA.
— Saber(@Saber) May 12, 2012
— Saber(@Saber) May 14, 2012
Ironically, the mural was erected as part of the L.A. Freewalls project, started to combat the city's decade-long mural moratorium. Saber in particular has lobbied relentlessly -- and creatively -- for a new mural ordinance that would allow Los Angeles to regain its title as mural capital of the world.
Now, in addition to battling billboard companies and City Hall officials for public art space (along with the occasional "Peace in Congo" charity worker), it appears street-art defenders must also keep an eye out for disrespectful Hollywood execs with paint rollers.
The depressing before-and-after shots, courtesy of @Saber:
We've contacted Sutter to see if it was really him who commissioned the take-down -- and if so, why he chose that particular wall.
A wall on which, as we're painfully reminded by 12ozProphet, four of L.A.'s finest artists spent days meshing their signature styles into a "massive collaborative" masterpiece.
More on the L.A. Freewalls project, and the gallery that sits alongside the wall of conflict:
Update No. 1: Sons of Anarchy producer Kurt Sutter says: "I assure you this was not SOA or OUTLAW EMPIRES. considering you're using assassinating me in a headline, isn't it a good idea to check the validity of your source? i understand that @saber is upset and looking for someone to blame. i'd be livid if someone defaced my work. but SOA isn't even in production yet and i checked with OE team, we never shot in that location, nor would we blatantly deface artwork."
Our headline has been revised to reflect this claim. It used to read, "'Sons of Anarchy' Producer Pisses off L.A. Street Artists by Painting Over New Downtown Mural.' We'll continue to investigate what happened to the piece.
Update No. 2: Sutter adds, "@LAWeekly the wall is purple on google earth too... fuck, i think you and @saber are totally fucking playing me to bring attention to FREE WALLS http://vimeo.com/39229810 . and i'm okay with that, at least your a cunt with a cause. i'm kurt sutter and i endorse this libelous abuse." He still has not responded to our request for comment.
Update No. 3: LALA Gallery founder Daniel Lahoda says he cannot confirm who, exactly, painted over the mural.
However, he says that his landlord, who also owns the building next door, did sell its outer wall space to a film production company. Lahoda just hasn't been able to figure out which production company, and doesn't know where Saber got his information.
According to Lahoda, some of Saber's animosity toward Sutter is stemming from a dispute that arose when Sons of Anarchy filmed last year's finale in front of various street-art pieces at Third Street and Traction Avenue downtown.
"Because the art is of a recognizable quality, the production companies will come in and exploit them," says Lahoda. Lately, the gallery director has found himself navigating the uncharted legal territory of crediting (or not crediting) street artists whose work is featured prominently in movies and TV shows.
And Sutter, says Lahoda, "has a history" of not asking for a release of L.A. street artists' material before using it as a backdrop.
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Update No. 4: Saber, who's apparently delighting in this "cunts with a cause" business, says he got his information from "someone close to the owner of the building."
@KyleB411 I was informed by someone close to the owner of the building. I have no reason to make things up. I appreciate your concern.
— Saber(@Saber) May 15, 2012
So this whole flamewar could have been launched from a bunch of hearsay. We're waiting on a call back from Film L.A. to find out more about the filming schedule at Willow and Santa Fe.