East Austin Studio Theft

Fire arts cooperative gets seriously burned

Sharon Blackwell fires it up.
Sharon Blackwell fires it up.

You hate to see artists have the tools they use to make art stolen from them under any circumstances, but the theft from the artists at 2511-C E. Sixth hits especially hard because it affects many more people than the owners. In addition to their use for the artists' own work, these tools were also being used cooperatively for an ongoing metal arts meet-up group in which anyone who was interested could learn how to weld and work with different kinds of metals and generally share information, techniques, the workspace, and equipment. And sometime around the first of the year, a lot of that equipment was ripped off. Sharon Blackwell, a metal artist who has been organizing the meetings for two years now, lost a pneumatic air compressor, a wire feed welder, electric metal shears, a rotary tool kit, a bench grinder, flap wheel grinders, pliers, a weed-whacker, and more. In addition, a plasma cutter, a metal saw, a jigsaw, a wood table saw, an oxyacetylene torch, a grinder with stone wheels, a wire feed welder, propane torches, a wood sanding machine, a box of cutting discs for metal, metal drills, and more were stolen from the four tenants who shared the studio with her. All four are moving out, mostly because of the burglary and the financial burden of replacing the equipment. (Sadly, only one person had insurance.) Still, Blackwell will continue to rent the studio – she's found five glassblowers to move in next month – and will continue to run the group with a slight name change: It's now the "fire arts meet-up group." The police have taken prints, but as of press time, no progress has been reported on the case. If you have any information on the theft or can help the group in any way, contact Blackwell at 444-3831 or greathome2@aol.com. For information about the fire arts meet-up group, visit www.metalart.meetup.com/23.

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