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Axl Rose and the case of the $24,000 photograph

"Axl Garage Text" by Laura London

A Chinatown art gallery has received a cease and desist letter from Axl Rose's lawyer days before a new art show by L.A. photographer Laura London was set to open.

Mat Gleason's Coagula Curatorial is poised to open the multimedia art show "Once Upon A Time... Axl Rose Was My Neighbor" on Saturday, but the Guns N' Roses frontman took issue with the description London's main art piece.

Part of the initial description came with a somewhat convoluted backstory about Axl Rose, some spray paint, a garage door, and his ex-wife Erin Everly.

It was described as "documentary photographs of a circa 1990 graffiti vandalization of the residence of Erin Everly by her then-husband Axl Rose". 

In the letter, Rose's attorney called the description "absolutely outrageous, false, fabricated, and highly defamatory," adding, "Mr. Rose never spray-painted anything."

The densly accusatory letter to Gleason also demands the statements be taken off the website, demands an apology and retraction, and demands the cancellation of the show. 

Gallery manager Bryan Chagolla confirmed with KPCC, however that the show will still go on, as planned, with opening night set for Saturday at 8 p.m. Chagolla also confirmed that the gallery removed the original description of the main artwork from its website, at the request of the letter.

"The main artwork in question is 10ft x 10ft, a limited edition of 3, and is going for $24,000 each," he noted.

When asked if he was concerned about the threat of litigation, Gleason replied, "my only fear is bad art and that is why I work so hard to find great art for shows."

In an email to KPCC Gleason explained his inpiration for this show.

"The thing about this show that inspired me was that you have this accomplished photographer, Laura London, who shows in galleries all over the place and is well known, and she makes a serious art show about what itmeans to be a fan of a band and immerse yourself in their narrative. Conceptually this is a show about the intimacy of narrative, look, the first half of the name of the show is 'Once Upon A Time', weren't fairy tales the original fan fiction?"

But, is he a fan of G'N'R? Gleason told KPCC, "As a 48-year old Angeleno, I am legally obligated like Guns 'N Roses."


Via Coagula Curatorial:

...a solo show of new art by Los Angeles fine art photographer LAURA LONDON.

Entitled "Once Upon A Time...Axl Rose Was My Neighbor" the exhibit explores the fine line between constructed narrative and documentary, private portraiture and celebrity posing, and, most intensely, melodrama juxtapozed with the all out rock and roll lifestyle.

Ms London explains, "My studio practice explores issues of identity, youth and contemporary culture. Similar to a social anthropologist, I observe people and social situations. My work comes from a combination of personal experience, memory, observation and imagination. ‘Axl Rose Was My Neighbor’ is a docudrama based on an interpretation and depiction of actual events."


Gleason opened the gallery last spring with a show by Los Angeles artist Tim Youd. He told KPCC's blogdowntown at the time that he chose Youd's work because of its provocative nature.

"I wanted people to come in and have a memorable experience not just visually...I wanted them to have an emotional response to things."

Gleason, expelled from college 20 years ago for running an underground newspaper, has been producing the Coagula Art Journal ever since. Gleason chose the name "Coagula," he told KPCC's blogdowntown, because it means blood clot, and alludes to the decadence of the Roman emperor Caligula.

"I wanted blood and passion back in the world of art and art dialogue."