Chor’s Labor of Love


Robert Thomas

A collaborative piece between Chor Boogie and Mesa College students on display outside Mesa College’s art gallery.

Robert Thomas, Staff Writer/Photographer

Chor Boogie, a spray-paint artist from Oceanside, CA is presenting his latest commissioned work at the Mesa College art gallery, a series called “The Divided State of America.” The project’s release, which coincides with the race for the 2016 presidential election highlights many troubling aspects of the state of the (dis)union, especially the corruption of the American political system due to the influence of money.

Skull in foreground: "In God We Trust." "Pain at the Pump" in the background.
Robert Thomas
Skull in foreground: “In God We Trust.” “Pain at the Pump” in the background.
"In God We Trust" Plaster molded skull with clippings of U.S. bills and a gold tooth.
Robert Thomas
“In God We Trust” Plaster molded skull with clippings of U.S. bills and a gold tooth. The piece was shown exclusively during opening day at the Mesa College art gallery.

Born Jason Lamar Hailey, Boogie knew he wanted to be an artist at the young age of five. At 13, he discovered spray paint and began developing his craft. He spent so much time practicing that his friends said he did it like it was his chore, and so he ended up taking Chor as his artist name. Ten years later he added Boogie, referring back to his art as “a melodic symphony, like a dance.”

Starting out as a street artist, many of Boogie’s early works were large, colorful murals, commissioning large pieces as far back as 1997 during his late teens. His unique style began to catch the eye of many people wishing to commission him for large scale public and private works, which can now be seen all over the world. In 2008 he was commissioned to do a mural for the Beijing Olympics, and in 2010 another on a piece of the Berlin wall.

Artistically speaking, vibrant color and flowing, curving lines are common in much of his work, a style he refers to as color therapy because of the mass use of colors. More recently, he began to focus on the theme of love, a word he wears proudly on his clothing and on his skin. Speaking on his love work, Chor says “that was inspired by the plant medicine iboga, ‘cause I joined a tribe in Africa called Bwiti, got branded and everything, and went through ceremonies and all that stuff, and it was beautiful. After that came all these love visions, pretty amazing.” Art has always been an important spiritual practice for Boogie. He says that art comes from the spirit, that everybody’s soul has a creative niche and he was just fortunate to find his at the age of five.

Chor Boogie in front of a mural from his Love series.
Photo from Chor Boogie’s blog at
Chor Boogie in front of a mural from his Love series.

The Divided State of America, or DSOA project, was a bit of a new direction for Boogie because most of his previous work was spiritual, emotional, and often somewhat abstract, although certainly not devoid of meaning. According to Boogie, “This project was conceived by an individual that has some political ties, and he wanted to commission some pieces that were basically going to impact the nation, and tell the truth, and so be it, that’s what happened, you know, and DSOA formed.” Nirmal Mulye, founder of the pharmaceutical company Nostrum Group and commissioner of the pieces, requested five more after seeing the first of the series, “Lady Liberty.”

"Lady Liberty" representing the complex beauty of America, but divided in two due to
Robert Thomas
“Lady Liberty,” representing the complex beauty of America, is split in two pieces signifying our divided state.

Each powerful piece in the series tells a story and highlights a particular social, political, or economic issue, detailed in captions next to each piece. They touch on issues of corruption due to the influence of money in politics, the distortion and abuse of religion by our politicians for personal and political gain, and the problems of corporatism and dependence on oil, as well as referencing the Black Lives Matter movement. The overall message is that our country is divided along political lines, ideologies and public and private interests.

"Ultimate Sacrifice" and his installation portraying the oil industry's greed.
Robert Thomas
“Ultimate Sacrifice” and his installation portraying the oil industry’s greed.

Chor Boogie’s Divided State of America series has already been on display at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz and will be at UC San Diego after leaving San Diego Mesa College. The show at UCSD will include an additional piece called “Lady Justice,” or “Just Us,” as Boogie refers to it. The first five pieces can be viewed from Feb. 11 to March 2 in the Mesa Art Gallery next to the Learning Resource Center from 11a.m. to 4p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 1 to 8p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Don’t miss this opportunity to see these truly powerful works of art by an internationally acclaimed local artist!