Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Plein Air Artist Suspected of Terrorism Is Laughing All the Way to the Bank

"Chase Burning," courtesy of artist Alex Schaefer
Support your source for local news!
The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

A local plein air artist is making bank with a painting whose subject freaked out bankers and police.

In the process, the artist Alex Schaefer discovered that being suspected of terrorism was good for his livelihood. The painting that earned him a visit from detectives also earned him $25,200 on eBay.

Initially, Schaefer was working on the painting for an upcoming show in February titled "Disaster Capitalism" at Inglewood's Beacon Arts Building. He painted a mostly-faithful rendering of the branch of Chase Bank that he was painting in Van Nuys, except that he added flames coming out of the roof and named it "Chase Burning." That detail, a commentary on the global banking system, attracted the attention of one nervous passer-by, who called the police.

If the attention from detectives seemed to genuinely surprise him (and worry his mother), he's amazed that the notoriety paid off:

Support for LAist comes from
I'm still in a state of shock but slowly coming to! Thank you world for all your love! I can't tell you how excited I am for all this and for artistic recognition but also for the ability of a simple painting to get so many people talking about such important issues! I'm humbled.

Next, Schaefer has to worry about is protecting his work from copycats.

Most Read