LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- It’s been a long year for artist Herb Roe. He’s lost over fifteen thousand dollars in potential income because of COVID-19. He’s still trying to have his roof repaired on his art studio. Now, he’s dealing with a criminal and trying to find who is responsible for stealing four of his paintings.
“It’s a real kick in the teeth to have spent that much time working on something,” Roe said. In the past 30 years and 18 working here in Lafayette, he said he has never had anything like this happen to him before. “The whole thing kind of feels like a little bit of a violation,” he said.
Roe said the paintings went missing just days before Christmas. He walked in with someone to look at the roof which had been blown off during Hurricane Delta and noticed four of his pieces of art missing from the walls inside of the gallery.
“Its a bit of a slap in the face when someone grabs what is the equivalent of about a month’s worth of work off the wall and just walks off with it,” Roe said. With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, he said he was hoping to sell these festive paintings before the holiday. Now, he can’t sell any of them and he’s out thousands of dollars.
For the past 30 years, Roe has worked across the country, from painting murals in high schools to getting into the action and photographing mud wrestling matches at Courir de Mardi Gras. He woud then painting realistic pictures of them. Now, he’s on the search for the four paintings stolen all while continuing on with some of his newest work- a field of burning blackberry bushes.
“Artists I think are taking a hit this year, we’re not the rent, we’re not the food, we’re not school, in a time of limited cash flow for people, art is the last thing people are going to buy,” Roe said.
Roe would spend hours on his work at a time he said. Sometimes, he’d work until late at night, sleep for just a few hours and get right back into the piece he’s been working on after waking up. Some of his work has taken months to complete he said and he’s shocked to have it stolen from him. “That’s how I pay my bills. How would you feel to have a month of your salary just gone,” he said.
“It pealed my roof like a banana and I still don’t have it fixed yet.” Roe has been dealing with cleanup from Hurricane Delta for the past two months. The entire roof of his upstairs studio was ripped from the warehouse which houses multiple different artists, a photography studio and a recording room. He said a majority of his paintings were hanging in the hallway of the warehouse out for people to see when they came and went. Now, most of them are all boxed up, protected from being stolen until the upstairs studio is repaired.
“A little bit over three thousand dollars worth of paintings just walked out the door,” he said.
Roe moved to Louisiana from Ohio and would travel back and forth until he made Lafayette his home. He never expected something like this to him here. Now, he’s asking for the communities help in finding these paintings. Roe says if the criminal returns the paintings and they aren’t damaged, he won’t press charges. If they’re found somewhere else months down the line he said, charges would be filed.
The building did not have cameras at the time, however, they have now been installed and the locks have also been changed.
“If they just showed up on the doorsteps in a box, that would be the end of it,” he said.
If you have any information as to where they may be, you can either contact Herb Roe directly through his email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Lafayette Police Department.