The Ministry of Artistic Affairs
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Graffiti art is a staple of the Bronx, which is probably why superstar Jennifer Lopez who grew up there, featured it in her recent car commercial but now a battle is brewing over the mural because the artist says his image was stolen.

 Artist Wilfredo "Bio" Feliciano had choice words for the folks behind J. Lo's Fiat spot that features his company's work without permission: Shame on you.

"It wasn't just the usual passing by. You see it as you're approaching it and then you see another angle driving away from it. We were like, 'Wow, they just, had total disregard for our work, they didn't even ask us,' "

Feliciano told PIX 11 News from his Hunts Point office in the Bronx. TATS Cru is Feliciano's business that he started nearly 20 years ago. They paint several hundred murals a year now, on the outside and inside of buildings across the city and country. Their work has been featured in plenty of productions, from television shows to movies. In fact, they did the background graffiti for the 2003 J. Lo music video "I'm Goin' Be Alright," featuring rapper Naz.

In most of these instances, TATS Cru gets paid for its paintings.
Now the deal with TATS Cru is that they always copyright their work, as is the case with the mural from the commercial. You can see in the lower right hand corner, a copyright sign with "2010 TATS Cru" written next to it but the way the bricks are unevenly stacked, the copyright is tough to see.

 Bronx resident Crystal White said, "Even though it may be tough, if it is visible, I think they do deserve compensation." Many Bronx residents know TATS Cru well and say JLo and the car company should cough up some dough. Confesor Gomez of the Bronx, "I really think they should be compensated for everything." 

A lawyer for TATS Cru says compensation is the legal resolution for copyright infringement. Meanwhile Fiat told PIX 11 News in a statement on Tuesday: "The Fiat brand recently learned of a copyright issue involving a graffiti mural created by the Bronx based artists TATS Cru which appeared in the background of a Fiat commercial."

 "It is the Company's standard protocol to require that its ad agencies conduct the necessary due diligence to ensure that all trademarks and copyrights are respected in the course of producing our advertisements. We are conducting a review of the circumstances surrounding this issue and are working to address the artists' concerns."

 While a personalized photo of J. Lo graces the wall of Feliciano's office, he doesn't really blame her. "We're not angry at her, I mean, I'm pretty sure it wasn't her call, she didn't scout the location but in all fairness if she is going to represent the Bronx she [should] be more aware of what people around her are doing," Feliciano said.

 By Erica Pitzi on WPIX


The Smoking Gun reports that Lopez never actually went to the Bronx to film the ad and that a body double stand-in was used instead. "It is such a breathtaking assemblage of hoary urban clich├ęs, it’s a wonder that Lopez & Co. forgot to include a shot of some grizzled pensioners playing dominoes or a Puerto Rican enjoying some shaved ice," the site says of the ad.

On Nov. 20, John Legend, a presenter at the American Music Awards, described J.Lo's performance -- which included a brazen Fiat product placement as she danced like a stripper in a nude bodysuit -- as "shameless" on Twitter.

Adweek said,"She's just Jenny from the block? Come on, no one believes that." Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. is furious at Lopez for failing to defend her old home when, on American Idol, it was described as a crime-infested drug den by one of the contestants.

There is an ever-lengthening anti-Lopez/Fiat thread on The comments section under Fiat's official YouTube video is filling up with posts such as: "That don't even look like the Bronx jlo hasent been to the block in years estupida ridicula," from "safire4real."

More on the overwhelming negative reaction to Jennifer Lopez's Fiat sponsorship here.