city of l.a. sees paint and sees red.
HUGE TWENTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLAR COURT FINE DEMANDED BY LOS ANGELES'
DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR A YOUNG, BASQUIAT TYPE PAINTER -- for a BOGUS RAP ---
THE A.C.L.U. IS FURIOUS. SO WILL YOU BE!
IMAGINE a BASQUIAT TYPE GRAFFITI TAGGER in L.A. caught and prosecuted way back in 2007! He quits the night time street spraying, stops doing HIS BRILLIANT ART ON BUILDINGS (a public service if you ask me,) --and switches to HUGE canvases, SO SUDDENLY he makes two thousand bucks each in chic galleries. Good for him, but not for the people of L.A. who can't see what rich collectors buy, they preferred his work on buildings, trains and busses
But so what? He is the new BASQUIAT! The city of L.A. can't stand it. This funky tagger getting famous? Them languishing in their ratholes in the court building? So they peer over the terms of his probation (again, this is 4 years ago,) spot words 'never to tag again and no tagging paint anywhere on him.' and take a search warrant to his HOUSE, break in and arrest him all over again!!!
He is now a brilliant high price, best selling artist, so of course, he still paints and still has cans of paint in his studio, though now he sells CANVASES for huge prices. The D.A. sees that, and goes into ancient probation terms, gets a warrant, the SHERIFFS break into artist's home, see paint and arrest him. 13 days in jail, no lawyer at all, that's what a public 'pretender' is... Now, the lady judge sees the entire situation. She can't allow the D.A. to demand he never paint anything again in his whole life, which DA is asking for! UN-#@(&#)*ReaL! But judge can't back off either cuz the PROSECUTOR has done too much waaaay criminal stuff to him, restrictions on making his living, constitutional probation terms, warrant, bogus assumptions, bogus charges, cruel arrest, two weeks in jail --- So he's now in court. Judge makes the rap stick. He's guilty of having paint!
WOW I so totally sympathize! As the same exact thing happened to me. http://www.masterjules.net/blondisyndrome.htm I'm talking search warrant, bracelets, neighbors watching squad of 15 people outside my house, me in cuffs, arrest, the whole 9 yards, over a single kitten and a vicious neighbor I should have called cops on years before for her nasty, invasive cat trapping, (sneak attacks at night with metal cages that smack shut trapping my cats who'd smell tuna, my cats nailed, taken) this 80 yr old witch was doing cat- napping cat theft, and cat killing and selling kittens for up to $450 each at a local posh gift shop with illegal cages in it! I didn't know what was going on, couldn't figure her out, never pressed charges on her, over 12 yrs of this kind of weird stuff -- so when I walked into her house to repo my adored kitten Calvin, stolen from an enclosed garden an hour earlier, she presses charges on me for trespass! I told investigating cop 'she's crazy' and closed the door. So neighbor does 14 pages of lies on me, I did zero. I was naive and my nightmare experience taught me what courts and judges do regularly (thank you God for the knowledge that the court is a Guantanamo Abu Grahib CASH REGISTER. Greedy, revengeful, psycho, insane, rottweiler D.A.'s who only see crime and felony even in an artist! Perhaps this is more evidence of our insane world....That we let these covert aggressives rule in Absolute Power and Absolute Corruption. Putting children in 'farms' and judge and DA getting kickbacks. (RECENT CASE of this) CASE ONE.. innocent mother convicted, fined, loses baby.. CASE TWO Judge sends innocent teen to horror farm, he suicides.
Courts KILL. Instead of backing the painter as a genius/creative person and helping him do something with that talent...to inspire and teach other youngsters....our system is set up to 'push' down any creativity....the judge convicted him both times, causing him to need psychiatric therapy for depression, anxiety. Post my warrant/ arrest/ trial, (10 separate trial dates,) I became ill with many killer diseases at once AND needed psychiatric help but without a car couldn't get any of it. Imagine cops serving a warrant on YOU and crowding your HOME with cops, animal reg, bagging up your stuff while you are outside in manacles, neighbors watching stunned!
To feel the seriousness of the issue, we need to imagine a world without Basquiat, without art, without music, without books, without books, novels, film, poetry, non fiction, without all things creative, like clothing designers, furniture...cars. painters, comic books even. What would our world be?? Imagine a Fahrenheit 451 world without creative or rebellious spirit!
In my case CASE # THREE, the D.A. was teamed up with the complainant's partner in a phony kitten-selling charity! THE HEAD PROSECUTOR was a known animal activist who FINED A DOG LOVER over 400,000$ and TOOK her home --.CASE FOUR... .He was doing the illegal thing that DA's do, "colluding" with complainant in my prosecution. He should have recused himself. The real guilty man who'd been part of the illegal kitty selling business and the PROSECUTOR were BEST BOY PALS! And they tried to send a car-less senior to a faraway 'cat hoarding' classroom in another city that cost 1500$. The owner of school realized I had 340$ a month Social Security check and saw no profit, refused to take me. Only his seeing that saved me from 52 trips across a 6 mile stretch, 12 round trip.
All for a 'cat beef' that was me 'trespassing ' to regain my own kitten, from a woman who'd KILLED another one of mine two weeks earlier after kidnapping HER! It had nothing to do with cat hoarding. in fact the complainant had 30 indoor cats, locked six to a room! Cop who heard charges there in that living room never knew! She'd lock them in her back rooms, have a cop there for 2 hrs and no cat made a peep, that's how 'dead' they were!
So the cop, the court, the D.A. and the JUDGE get things wrong, time and time again. All FOUR of these cases prove that.
But again, just look at this poor painter. A city that wants the new Basquiat to stop painting! Not own any paints? A city that wants its hand in his wallet to the tune of 23K? HOW #*&%(* DARE THEY?
Graffiti artist's past is tagging behind him -- (a pun, very lame one)
By RICHARD WINTON / Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES -- For years Cristian Gheorghiu craved the thrill of the
chase. Spray-paint can in hand, he lived on the edge, always a step
ahead of the law.
His canvas was L.A.'s lampposts, brick walls and concrete riverbeds
where he scrawled ragged images and his own nickname, "Smear" - probably
thousands of times.
The graffiti made him a subculture sensation. Fans compared his art to
that of another graffiti artist, the critically acclaimed Jean-Michel
But just as the East Hollywood graffiti artist's career was taking off,
his past has threatened to overtake him.
First came jail and a whopping fine. Now, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich
is seeking a one-of-a-kind court injunction to bar Gheorghiu from
profiting from art bearing his telltale "tag."
The American Civil Liberties Union calls the lawsuit an assault on
artistic freedom. For Gheorghiu, it is something more: an attack on his
cherished outlaw persona.
Smear "is the beast over there, and I'm over here," said Gheorghiu, 34.
"I'm not going to turn my back on it," but "you got to evolve."
The slight, bearded Gheorghiu is the most recent in a long line of
graffiti writers to wow the art scene.
Traditional graffiti, a bold style of writing done with spray paint or
markers, harks back to at least the 1920s. Its current artistic form
developed in the 1970s, when New York City's painted subway cars became
iconic. Today, the work of people once considered vandals can be found
in chic galleries, auction houses and even suburban shopping malls.
Some former miscreants have become household names. Basquiat, the
internationally known neo-expressionist artist, burst onto the New York
art scene in the late 1970s. Today, a piece by Banksy - the secretive
British graffiti artist nominated this year for a best documentary Oscar
- may command hundreds of thousands of dollars. Shepard Fairey's art is
found on the youth-oriented Obey line of clothing.
Graffiti writers have had an "incredible influence on culture, music and
art," said Roger Gastman, one of the authors of "The History of American
Graffiti," to be released soon by Harper Collins.
Smear has not yet achieved the stature of a Basquiat or Banksy, but his
path is similar.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, he grew up in the '80s in a then-rough East
Hollywood. He drifted into gang life as a teenager, he said. By his
early 20s, graffiti had become his obsession.
He held various jobs: stocking bottles at a bar, working in a retail
clothing shop and a video store.
But this was a backdrop to his shadowy after-dark existence. Sometimes
he traveled with tagging groups with brazen names: Racing Toward Hell,
Metro Transit Assassins (or MTA). Mostly he spent his nights alone with
a small backpack and a few cans of Coors and beef jerky, spraying poles,
newspaper boxes and rusty utility boxes.
He hopped gates and hunted for forgotten access ladders. He dodged guard
dogs and crunched across gravel roofs, always searching for that blank
surface that, in his words, "screamed to be hit."
There were moments of chest-pounding fear. But he also found peace,
perched on some high outcropping, smoking a Parliament cigarette, gazing
down at the city lights as treetops swayed in the breeze.
"It is a Peter Pan existence. ... There is nothing like it in the
world," he said. "It is better than sex. It is better than drugs. It is
just you and the city and your thoughts. ... I don't know if it is some
primitive instinct or what. It just feels right."
His repertoire quickly expanded from tags with markers and stickers to
characters, and his trademark, shadowy depiction of his own face.
By his late 20s, he had begun to make his first mixed-media pieces on
canvas. He was living and painting in a court apartment off Normandie
Avenue in East Hollywood. His paintings were unique renderings of human
forms with vivid colors and rough, emotional strokes.
He developed a following. Soon he was living a dual life: graffiti
painter by night, budding artist by day.
His work was noticed by artsy folks in Silver Lake and downtown Los
Angeles. In 2006, he made his professional debut when an art show in San
Francisco included his work. A gallery in Long Beach followed suit.
After that, his canvases were exhibited in L.A., Ventura, Philadelphia,
Berlin and Bucharest. There were group shows and solo shows.
Anna Bermudez, curator of collections at the Museum of Ventura County,
said Gheorghiu's art is a reflection of his urban life. In 2009 the
museum exhibited what she called his almost folk art-like pieces in a
show titled "Immigration to Integration."
Mayra Baligad, owner of the popular Monkeyhouse Toys & Art Gallery in
Silver Lake, said that like Basquiat, Gheorghiu "is one of most honest
artists out there. He has not got any formal artist training and his
work is raw."
Despite the accolades, Gheorghiu's late-night obsession was taking a
toll. A series of tagging-related misdemeanor arrests beginning in 1999
cost him his day job as a special-education aide at an elementary
school. He trained as a pharmacy technician, but his criminal record
made it hard to find that kind of work. He manned the front desk at a
24-hour porn show and worked as a movie extra.
In 2007, Gheorghiu's problems came to a head with his first adult felony
arrest. Responding to "Smear" graffiti on buses, L.A. County sheriff's
deputies raided his home. A graffiti vandalism conviction resulted in a
40-month suspended prison sentence, three years' probation and about
$28,000 in restitution for scrawling on buses.
Gheorghiu remains on probation because he has paid off only about $5,000
of his fines.
He says he stopped vandalizing property after his conviction. Today, he
insists, his only artwork is created in a studio, with larger pieces
fetching $2,000 to $2,500. Art "is my way of making amends," he said.
But his trouble with the law didn't end. When his old tagging crew was
suspected of creating a quarter-mile-long MTA tag in the Los Angeles
River, Gheorghiu was caught in the ensuing police sweep.
He spent three days in jail in 2009. Charges were never filed.
But in 2010, the city attorney sued him and nine others. The suit seeks
at least $1 million in penalties and a civil injunction that would
forbid many activities, including making money from work emblazoned with
their street names.
(DOES THAT BEAT ALL? THIS GUY SHOULD SUE BACK with ACLU
HELPING HIM! PURLOINING STREET NAMES, WOW! STRAIGHT TO HELL HE GOES for that one. How audacious of HIM! IS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE RISING?)
City attorneys point out that Gheorghiu advertises his work as "crime
transformed into art." They say he once told an investigator that
sheriff's evidence stickers placed on his confiscated paintings would
increase their value.
Their suit also argues that Gheorghiu's graffiti served as free
publicity, giving him an unfair advantage over legitimate artists - a
violation of state laws governing fair competition.
"We don't want to take away anyone's living, but we don't want anyone
profiting from their crimes," Deputy City Attorney Travis Austin said.
Tagging, Austin said, costs millions of dollars annually to clean,
detracts from the city's appearance and property values, and makes
residents fearful and insecure. "Graffiti," he asserted in a court
proceeding earlier this month, "is not entitled to First Amendment
But Peter Bibring, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California who
represents Gheorghiu and one other defendant, said the city attorney is
seeking to restrict artists' expression by limiting what Gheorghiu's
canvases can contain. She actually sought for him never to be able to
Bibring also objects to parts of the lawsuit modeled on gang injunctions
that would subject the defendants to a lifelong curfew and limit their
movements. "They are seeking to punish him for turning his life around,"
The city's legal efforts against Gheorghiu infuriate gallery owner
Baligad. She said Los Angeles needs to celebrate its young artists, not
persecute them. "It is simply wrong for the city to go after him," she
For Gheorghiu, the lawsuit has triggered a kind of artistic identity
crisis. Police raids have left him so rattled that he has seen a
therapist to deal with the anxiety. He admits to some self-loathing and
paranoia. He has considered shedding his tagger alter ego and for the
first time has signed a few pieces without his nickname.
But he also knows that being an outlaw is part of his artistic appeal,
and that his audience may not follow him if he is no longer the shadowy
Smear. He said he has sold a few of the unsigned pieces but has stuck
with the nickname for all his promotions.
Silver Lake collector Art Santillan, 36, would never have heard of him
if not for his outlaw graffiti. "He is well-known on the street,"
Santillan said. "I used to see his stuff everywhere."
Unlike the city attorney, Santillan liked seeing "Smear" scrawled around
town, and later bought 10 of his pieces: "His artwork is a smack in the
face," he said. (SO SOMEBODY SMACK THE CITY OF HELL-A WITH A LAWSUIT! FOR ABOUT TEN MILLION DAMAGES ! Any pro bono lawyers out there willing to wait to get their 30% at the end of this trial? It's a movie script too1)
We happen to LOVE BASQUIAT TYPE CANVASES & we suggest it is highly salable stuff, so go into it as a biz!
GOOGLE search terms for more on this story graffiti + "Los Angeles" + SMEAR + GHEORGHIU GOOGLE search terms for more on BASQUIAT GRAFFITI ART + Warhol + Dennis Hopper as he did film on this wonderful genius.
NY POST article on Great & valid City Wall Art distinguished from vandalism
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