Kittenzilla, R.I.P.

Photo credit : Stephanie Gene Morgan

Some  of you out there in internet land might remember the brief fame of our Kittenzilla mural, which we painted and installed on the old Harding theater in San Francisco in November of 2010. Bunnie Reiss, Myself, and our good friend Garrison Buxton produced the piece and installed it as part of the Gallery Heist One year anniversary show.  It received great reviews and was instantly welcomed by the local neighborhood and the larger internet community.  Unbeknownst  to us, we had tapped into an internet meme, and the simple joy of seeing a giant kitten with laser eyes seemed to leave people with a sunny happy feeling. We just like to paint giant kittens.

The location was secured for us through the gallery owner, Julianne Yates, over at Gallery Heist.  She assured us the mural would be up for somewhere between two and three months, and that she would contact us when it was time to remove it and replace it with art from another artist. So imagine our horror when Andrew Dalton, who reports for the SFist and runs his own blog the aggressive panhandler that first brought Kittenzilla to the land of the internets, sent us an email that our mural, barely a month old and loved, had been completely defaced. Not just a tag, not repairable, but completely and utterly destroyed, overlaid with the artwork of another. I was baffled, upset and hurt.  Who would do such a thing? And why? These questions would soon be answered, but only to create more questions. As word spread of the vandalism, people chimed in with their blog comments, and we tried to get to the bottom of it all.

Photo Credit: Ben Roodman via SFist

I sent Julianne Yates from Gallery Heist a message, telling her that someone had defaced our artwork and we would be taking it down.  Imagine my surprise when she phone me back almost immediately, and let me know that she had been their while the painting had occurred, and that it was a friend of hers (street artist Gaia) who had done the work, sanctioned by her gallery.  I was blown away. How had at least two months become barely more than one, and why had she not contacted us? We had purchased the boards for the installation, done the painting partially in the studio and finished the installation on Divisadero. This was our work of art, and she had no right whatsoever to destroy it.  We had plans to relocate the mural once it’s time was up on Divisadero. These are questions that have still not been answered.

Luckily, we had been able to get a good friend and professional photographer to get out there barely a few days before our mural was destroyed and take some nice photographs, so that Kittenzilla may live on. We will be offering high quality prints through Adhoc gallery, so that Kittenzilla may live out its nine lives, even after the original is no more. We are interested in finding more spaces to bring our giant kitten love to as well, so if you have a wall available in the bay area let us know!

What many people told us is that they loved the positive, playful energy of Kittenzilla, and that we will try and keep moving- we hope to make lemonade out of lemons and move forward into 2011 with a positive, playful vibe, bringing more giant kittens to a neighborhood near you.

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8 responses to “Kittenzilla, R.I.P.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Kittenzilla, R.I.P. | Inside my Mind -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Ezra, and Bunny, I am really upset, for all of the
    reasons mentioned, (it was fabulous, you know my love of cats –
    well painted, and just great). But my concern is a legal one. Had
    they removed the panels, and the other artist began a new, that
    might be acceptable, in that the dealer changed her mind – not too
    reliable a person but ok. However, the next artist used your work
    as a canvas and retained some of the imagery as part of his/her
    work. I think that is copyright infringement. I would ask Matt G to
    look into it. Its just horrible what this “artist” did to a truly
    memorable work of art. But, great that you are able to reproduce
    it, with the scans. Best, and Happy New Year, Maria

  3. Pingback: The Tender » Heist Wall keeps partying

  4. Wow, that’s really terrible. I’m so sorry. :(
    At least you have some great pictures!

  5. Hey, Ezra! Yeah, in fact I found photos of your mural on the internet about a week ago,and I liked it a lot. Today I came toyour blog from Space Gallery’s, never expected to find you again. Good coincidence. I’ve painted murals myself, and know how horrible is to be covered by another artist when the work is still fresh and alive. It normally cause problems. I can’t believe the stupidity of the gallerist producing this, and I don’t think Gaia was fair either. Unfortunately, that is the bad faith that the ethos of street art and graffiti can justify for some. I also do street art but I would never go over a good piece,even if I don’t like it personally for whatever reason. I think that Julianne behaved as your typical brainless art world opportunist that relates to street art for the fad. Besides that,the subject matter of cats with powers is not for everyone. Some idiots are closet cat-haters.

  6. The other thing about it was , hey, sorry – not really! – to be judgmental, but I’m an old dude and have looked at a lot of shit, the stuff that went over Kittenzilla was just lame. WHAT were they thinking, eh?

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