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.
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.