Thieves make off with pricey paintings

FRIENDSWOOD, TX Owners of Melange Gallery of salons wanted to start growing the local art scene in Friendswood, and over the last few years as their gallery has gained notoriety, but it's also caught the attention of some art thieves.

The colors are rich, the work is bold and all the pieces are produced in the Friendswood area. The Melange Gallery of Salons opened in 2007 with 10,000 square feet of beauty-related businesses. The owners, being art connoisseurs, decided to dedicate the entrance -- free of charge -- to local artists searching for a spot to showcase their work. One even made it on display in the White House during President George W. Bush's term.

"We don't have to put this artwork up, we want to put the artwork up. It adds a lot to the community, adds a lot to the artists," said Melange owner Priscilla Menchaca. "It's a big deal not to many people, but to us locally here in Friendswood."

While trying to build her portfolio, Friendswood artist Fontaine Jacobs was able to get two paintings on display.

"It's a great exposure," she said. "I had many people who didn't know I was even an artist call me and say, 'I saw your work at the Melange.'"

Jacobs displayed two 24x20 oil on canvas paintings. One was a rose titled "Hearts Center." The other was "Lotus Flower." Both were close ups. But sometime late Sunday or early Monday they were stolen.

"With each petal I saw this little abstract painting and it was just so much fun to paint. It took months to do," Jacobs said. "I was just devastated."

There was no forced entry, and owners of Melange say those two days were unusually busy with clients and renovations taking place.

Menchaca said, "I can't really pinpoint it. That's why we are a little concerned. Because we know the clients we normally have in here, we know our tenants, we know our artists, so we are a little confused about it."

The oils were priced at $950 apiece. Jacobs wants the paintings back -- no questions asked. In the meantime she is trying to deal with the heist in stride.

She said, "I had one friend say, 'Well, you've got hot paintings.' So I guess it's a backhanded compliment."

Fontaine has filed a report with the Friendswood Police Department, but again is asking for the paintings to be returned no questions asked. Owners of Melange Gallery of Salons are now looking at installing cameras to watch over their art gallery.

You can read more about the art theft in the Friendswood Journal, another of our Houston Community Newspaper partners.

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