At a press conference this afternoon, Charleston County Public Library Executive Director Doug Henderson announced that a total of seven pieces of artwork have been stolen from the Charleston Public Library in the past 48 hours. Yesterday, three pieces by Charleston artist Alizey Khan were reported missing from the Library's Gallery. Earlier this morning, more pieces had managed to wander out of the doors shortly after the library's opening.
This morning's loot included one more of Khan's works, as well as two by Danita G. Cole and one by Sherry Browne. Cole and Browne's pieces were taken from smaller displays in the Library's lobby. Khan, this month's featured Gallery artist, reports that her stolen pieces total over $2,600 and continues to wish indigestion on the thief (see earlier blog post for her full pasta related curse). Henderson's greatest concern is for the future of the program at the CCPL. Local artists aren't the only ones whose works are displayed — the library regularly shows off school children's works. Henderson says, “It gives them something to be proud of, something to build off ... we can't let one person endanger something that's a value to the whole community.”
With over 1,000,000 recorded transactions per year, the CCPL is a lively community center, and is frequented by many who may have never set foot into an art gallery. Henderson boasts that the library “opens doors” for people that might never seek out art on their own. The CCPL has proudly displayed local artists work for over thirty years and has never had any similar incidents. Having your artwork disappear has never been a concern. Artists are excited to have a public forum to display their pieces. “It's an honor, really, to have your work displayed. The artists has to be selected, its not just anyone,” says Henderson.
The safety of the works has never been a topic of discussion, until now. Artist Sherry Browne spoke at the press conference, saying that “its' a scary world,” emphasizing that precautions should be taken to prevent this tragedy from reoccurring. Whether the library has to “tie them up [or] screw them down” artists should not have to fear being robbed while the art they have worked hard to produce is proudly displayed. She remains hopeful that the thief will be caught and the artwork returned to its proper owners.
As of this morning, Khan has emptied the gallery of her remaining pieces, and the lobby has been stripped of all art. The CCPL has been in contact with a security company to discuss how to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Police have been alerted of the situation, and thanks to security footage, have one suspect who is believed to be the culprit behind both thefts. The suspect is a bald white male, seen in the video wearing a dark colored T-shirt, khaki shorts, and tennis shoes and carrying a dark colored backpack. If you have any information regarding the suspect or stolen artworks, please contact the Charleston County Public Library or the Charleston Police Department.