City Beat

Sacramento art groups bounce back after thefts

Raphael Delgado works on a charcoal drawing in 2011 in his studio, a small space near the noisy light-rail tracks at the back of Panama Art Factory in Sacramento. The artists collective on 24th Street in Hollywood Park was burglarized on Aug. 31, and thieves made away with more than $25,000 in equipment.
Raphael Delgado works on a charcoal drawing in 2011 in his studio, a small space near the noisy light-rail tracks at the back of Panama Art Factory in Sacramento. The artists collective on 24th Street in Hollywood Park was burglarized on Aug. 31, and thieves made away with more than $25,000 in equipment. Sacramento Bee file

To the thieves messing with local artists lately, Dave Dave has a message: “They’re not going to stop us.”

Dave, a visual artist specializing in ceramics, steel and glass, is also the manager of the Panama Art Factory. The collective on 24th Street in Hollywood Park was burglarized on Aug. 31, and thieves made away with more than $25,000 in equipment.

Oddly, the thieves didn’t steal any art, despite the factory housing the workspace of 30 well-known local artists. In fact, it appears the intruders went out of their way to avoid touching any art, tiptoeing around blank canvases and sculptures to steal welders, computers and photography equipment. Dave said he found a pick he thinks was used to open a door.

On Saturday, the factory opened its doors for a fundraiser. The collective also has a GoFundMe online fundraising account set up to get the artists going again.

Photographer Melissa Uroff Millner probably was hit the hardest. She said she had about $15,000 in equipment stolen from her workspace on the factory’s second floor. Other studios on the floor were also burglarized, despite being tucked away from the main gallery space.

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“You never thought this would be a thing” we’d have to deal with, Millner said. “It feels like a home here.”

Two men donated lighting and photo equipment to Millner on Saturday. The GoFundMe account had raised nearly $4,000 by Sunday afternoon.

“This isn’t about us being victims because we’re bouncing back,” Dave said. “This is about how the Sacramento arts community is coming together.”

ZFG is bouncing back, too. That’s the performance and hip-hop crew that puts on flash mobs around the city. Over Labor Day weekend, they organized a chain-link-fence poetry installation for Oak Park.

They cut out small placards featuring inspirational words, like those small magnets you turn into phrases on refrigerators. The placards were then attached to wire hangers and brought out to Broadway on Sept. 2. That weekend, Oak Park residents young and old hung more than 120 words on a fence, forming messages of peace and love.

“We got reports they were down that Monday morning,” ZFG’s Andru Defeye said. “Everything. The entire thing. It’s a little strange.”

Defeye has no idea who would have removed the installation – he hopes a couple of neighborhood kids without any art of their own took the words and hung them in their backyard. But that seems unlikely.

Instead of filing a police report, Defeye said his group shifted its focus toward organizing its next fence poetry event at Oak Park’s Brickhouse Gallery on Sept. 27. Even with the theft happening just a few days after the Panama Art Factory break-in, Defeye said he and other artists aren’t discouraged.

“We’ll be right back,” he said. “And if someone takes it down again, we’ll put it right back.”

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