Theft Strikes Chicago Art Fair as Paintings Are Stolen From Local Artist

The 28-year-old artist has lost her "life's work."

Lydia Cash and her stolen paintings. Photo: Lydia Cash.
Lydia Cash and her stolen paintings. Photo: Lydia Cash.

A theft occurred at a Chicago art fair this past weekend, in which one or more art thieves made off with eight paintings worth $3,410 from 28-year-old artist Lydia Cash‘s booth.

“My art is my life’s work, and those paintings were so special to me,” the devastated painter told DNAinfo.

Cash, one of over 120 artists featured in the Edgewater Fall Art Fair, had left her work in her tent overnight on Saturday, as she had done without issue at last year’s fair.

“When I arrived for day two of the fair Sunday morning, I got to my tent and nearly all of my paintings were gone,” wrote Cash on Facebook, noting that a fair worker had informed her that only two of the scheduled four security guards were present for the overnight shift.

Lydia Cash, <em>Smash/Blink</em>. Photo: Lydia Cash.

Lydia Cash, Smash/Blink.
Photo: Lydia Cash.

“I can’t even really quite describe it,” Cash told NBC Chicago of the unpleasant discovery. “I felt very, very shaken. I felt very violated.”

Of course, art theft can happen at any time: Drunken thieves have scaled the walls at the Denver Botanic Gardens, brazen robberies take place in broad daylight, and even the local Taco Bell can have its artwork stolen.

“The Edgewater Fall Art Fair had security in place overnight, as we do every year, with the amount of manpower that had been recommended to us by our security service provider,” the organization told NBC in a statement. “However, it would be impossible to keep a close watch on all tents for an event this large.”

Lydia Cash with her painting <em>The Old Man</em>. Photo: Lydia Cash.

Lydia Cash with her painting The Old Man.
Photo: Lydia Cash.

Rae Ann Cecrle, founder and chair of Edgewater Artists In Motion, which organized the fair, told DNAinfo she “felt bad” about the robbery, but “from what I understand, she left her tent just wide open. . . .  I can’t imagine as an artist just leaving my paintings out there.”

For her part, Cash is hoping for the best. “After crying a whole lot and wanting to just quit, I decided to stick around at the fair, sitting in my empty tent, and do some ‘live painting’ with some small blank canvases I’d happened to bring,” she added on Facebook. “I’d like to think that I made some of my best work yesterday, and I met so many kind people that showed so much compassion for me.”

Cash has filed a police report has been filed, and the fair is reviewing security footage in the hope of identifying the thief. A GiveForward page set up for her benefit has so far raised $275.

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