Fabian's life is imitating his art

His thieving 'Christmasatron' painting comes back to haunt him

As a participant in Notch 8 Gallery's Smothered By the Things We Love show in November, artist Fabian created a piece called "The Chrismasatron." The latest in his socio-political The Contraption series, the painting depicts a father of three succumbing to the pressure of balancing lengthy Christmas lists with short money. A meter on the man's forehead offers three options: Work, Hustle, or Crime? The subject chooses the latter as he proceeds to tell Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to "Run That."

The scene is one that has probably played out in the heads of people everywhere around this time of the year — including Fabian's.

"I'm living it, man," the father of three, and soon to be four, laughs when asked where the inspiration for the piece came from. Up until two years ago Fabian worked at advertising agencies and used that money to fund his lofty art ideas, like the World Wide Arts Federation where Atlanta-based artists would duel in an on-the-spot painting competition. He decided to quit corporate America to become a full-time artist and is now living off his work.

"The pressure of Christmas is immense. So I understand when someone goes out and commits crime just because they want to make due for their loved ones," he says. He pauses. "But I didn't expect it to stop at my door, though."

While Fabian was at Notch 8 showcasing his work and conversing with viewers, "The Chrismasatron" was coming to life at his house — on some Ghostbusters II "Vigo the Carpathian" shit. Around 9 p.m., about an hour into the show, Fabian's Decatur residence was being burglarized. The robber kicked one of his doors completely off the hinges and made off with his Canon 7D camera, Hewlett-Packard laptop computer, and ASUS tablet. Fabian did not find out until after show when he returned to his phone and saw missed calls and texts from both his landlord and girlfriend.

"When it happened, I knew who did it," he says.

Fabian suspects that it was the brother-in-law of one his neighbors. According to Fabian, the assumed robber was just released from prison after serving six years for (ding, ding, ding) robbery. Fabian had actually met him in the days leading up to the show as he was working on the painting.

"He was just walking down the street and saw me outside priming the canvas," Fabian says. "He tells me he just got out, was living down the street, was looking for something to do, 'idle hands are the devil's playground,' blah, blah, blah. So I told him he can help me."

In their brief interaction, Fabian says he gave the man clothes, food, and even offered to teach him design to have as a skill. But then, Fabian got a little too nice and allowed the stranger in his house when he asked to use the restroom. Fabian now thinks the man, who, he adds, was kicked out of his brother's house in the time between their meeting and the art show, cased out the house and returned to steal the expensive items that he saw.

To make up for his losses, Fabian has created a GoFundMe campaign where potential donors can either give money or purchase prints, drawings, and paintings of his at discounted rates. No, he did not have renter's insurance. Yes, he admits to "feeling so stupid" when people ask why not.

Moving forward, Fabian says that he will aim to paint more "positive" paintings, perhaps to will some good luck his way. Just last June, small renderings of his Contraptions were stolen when his car was broken into during his What Was I Thinking? solo show at Space 2.

"Obviously, there is some kind of power there with what I'm creating," says Fabian. Earlier this year, his Dungeon Family Pyramid installation caused a small controversy when Art on the Atlanta Beltline asked him to remove it after it had been vandalized and turned into a makeshift homeless shelter. "I've been painting off feeling lately and it feels like I'm empowering the pictures unintentionally. So I'm trying to be careful about what I look at because I can mess around and internalize it and manifest shit."

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