Drama from Beverly Boulevard spilled onto the Internet on Sunday when CHOD, a street artist who has been working locally for about two years, remixed a painting created by Annie Preece and posted it on the building that once housed the Regency Fairfax Cinemas. Preece, herself a street artist who also shows at galleries, was not amused. She reclaimed the now-collaborative effort from in front of the shuttered theater and is selling it, with proceeds going to a local charity for domestic abuse victims.
It's a strange story, where street art and Internet beefs meet, one filled with enough weird coincidences and hearsay to make it sound like a convoluted television plot or art world prank.
CHOD and Preece don't know each other, but in the past their work has appeared on the same spot, that old theater at 7907 Beverly Blvd., a popular spot for street art. CHOD had been wanting to do a project that examined "value" in the art world. Specifically, he wanted to look at this in the context of street art. How does the value of one's work change when the artist moves from the street to the gallery and then back to the street?
Let's start at the beginning.
CHOD's video of what took place
A few weeks ago, CHOD bought Preece's painting, called Melting Head, at Lab Art Gallery on La Brea. Preece describes it as one of the "droopy faces" that have become a part of her work. It's primarily a black-and-white image marked by a smattering of pink paint and a single blue eye.
CHOD plopped down $2500 cash for the painting. Then he took to it with a stencil, applying the words, "None of this is real." Painting a phrase on top of an image isn't that unusual. However, this differs from the work of an artist like Wayne White in that CHOD paid top dollar for a canvas from someone who works in the same scene he does. That's part of his point.
"None of this is real" is one of CHOD's catch phrases, and it's crucial to the message in his work. CHOD explores human-made constructs, like government, economics and religion. "These are all things that we created that are not real," he says by phone.
On Saturday night, CHOD hung the art mash-up on Beverly Boulevard, in a spot where he knew that graffiti is quickly covered. He added a gallery-style tag. At the bottom of the small sign, in the place that would normally name a price, he gave his. CHOD was offering the work for free.
The artist captured this process on video and, before Sunday's sunrise, the clip was online. Later that morning, he cruised down the street to see if the piece was still there.
"My assumption was that eventually all of that would be painted over brown, reducing the total value of this piece, this object, to literally zero," he says.
But that's not what happened. Sometime around 11 a.m., CHOD drove past the old movie theater and the painting was in the same spot. An hour and a half later, he drove past it again. This time, the piece had vanished.