My daughter admitted to me recently that in the 11 years I’ve had NashvilleGab she’s only ever read one story I’ve written. Unfortunately, the one story she read was one where I talked about being miserable while pregnant. It embarrassed her and so she’s never been back.
So to lure her back into my dark web of country musings, I’m writing a story about someone she loves…Upchurch.
So Ryan Upchurch (or just Upchurch as everyone calls him) is a popular country singer/rapper/proud hick/funny man on YouTube who has released albums in the past but isn’t signed to a record label. According to this video, however, he did have the opportunity to sign with Big Machine not too long ago.
Anyway, back to the doozy of a lawsuit. So a few years ago, Upchurch purchased a couple of paintings from Florida artist Jacob Aaron LeVeille without incident. Then in 2018, the singer was going to purchase an additional painting from LeVeille, but things somehow didn’t work out with that sale. There are no details on what happened to sour the deal, but Upchurch decided to show his displeasure by posting a video to Instagram of him shooting up two of the paintings (one of Johnny Cash and one of Upchurch himself) that he’d already purchased. He later auctioned the destroyed paintings off to fans.
Now here’s where things get strange. LeVeille is now suing Upchurch in federal court for not only damaging the paintings (which the singer owned free and clear) but also for defaming him by sharing the video of the destruction online.
A lawsuit filed by the artist with Florida federal court on Monday alleges that Upchurch violated the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) when he “intentionally mutilated” the two paintings (one depicting the musician and another representing Johnny Cash) and “defamed” LeVeille by posting the video for the Redneck Nation country rapper’s 1.4 million Instagram followers — more than 155,000 of which have viewed the video since it was posted on November 9, 2018.
LeVeille is a young painter currently living in Jacksonville, Florida. According to the lawsuit, he’s known for “unique paintings of country musicians,” which have garnered “growing acclaim” from the art and country music scenes. His expressive work is also featured in the Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee.
According to the report, the Visual Artists Rights Act gives artists “limited rights over paintings they no longer own.”
That’s right, you’re apparently not allowed to destroy artwork that you own. Talk about learning something new everyday.
There’s no word on how much LeVeille is hoping to get in the lawsuit, but he is seeking the return of his paintings plus damages and attorneys’ fees.
Just another reason to think before you upload to social media.