Paintings of banks on fire turn art teacher into celebrity
The Los Angeles art scene is abuzz over 41-year-old teacher Alex Schaefer after one of his paintings, showing a Chase bank branch set ablaze, sold on eBay for $25,200.
But before he broke the bank (literally and figuratively), Schaefer had to stare down Los Angeles police detectives in July, and then again in August.
After an anonymous complaint, officers treated his initial painting as a threat, and Schaefer was interrogated twice over whether he was planning any terrorist activities.
On his website, Schaefer explains that he told the officers during two different confrontations that the images were meant to be metaphors for what’s happening to the financial industry today. After filing their reports, Schaefer claims officers left him alone.
Another painting, showing a Bank of America branch on fire, sold for about $3,500.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times shortly after his second police encounter, Schaefer explained that the fires “symbolize bringing the system down.”
“Some might say that the banks are the terrorists,” he added.
Schaefer also says he plans to make the bank burning paintings into a series, and has already started on another.
Schaefer teaches painting and drawing at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Art credit: Alex Schaefer.