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

"Chase Burning," courtesy of artist Alex Schaefer
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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:

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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.