Austin artists say local business closed without returning works on display

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After east Austin bar Lucky’s unexpectedly closed in 2023, two local artists say that their works on display there were never returned, leaving them without compensation or answers.

An abstract art piece made by Brianna Vance, which was on display at Lucky’s. (Courtesy Brianna Vance)

Artist Brianna Vance said that artists would offer art to businesses, such as restaurants, cafes and bars, to display. Those pieces would have contact info for the artist and a price, allowing the business’ customers to buy the art.

Vance said that the business closed without returning eight of her works. She estimates the loss at a total of $4,685.

Each piece is made of epoxy resin, a liquid polymer that sets solid after a curing period. From start to finish, Vance has only an hour to adjust the resin before it is permanently set. The process yields unique and non-repeatable works of art.

“I just want to let other artists know to just be careful of who they work with. Make sure that the business has some stake in the city already and you really trust them before doing business with them,” Vance said.

Another work of art by Brianna Vance. It disappeared after east Austin bar Lucky’s closed. (Courtesy Brianna Vance)

“I had an emotional connection with a lot of those pieces. They were all originals. I don’t have any prints of my work,” Vance said. “They’re just gone now, and I have nothing for it. And it’s sad.”

She ran into the former owner but said he refused to speak with her and directed her to contact his attorney.

Another artist, Mary Rochford, tells KXAN she is down two pieces after the bar closed. She also tried to contact the art coordinator and the former owner for several weeks but hasn’t received a response.

“It is disappointing to experience this kind of behavior from local entrepreneurs,” Rochford said. “Someone knows what has happened to our art. At the very least, we deserve open communication and answers.”

Vance said she doubts she’ll see the art again but hopes for accountability. (Courtesy Brianna Vance)

KXAN also reached out to the former owner and the bar’s former art coordinator in order to get their side of the story. However, neither responded to requests.

Vance said that she opened a case with the Austin Police Department a week ago but was told on Friday that the case had been closed without a detective speaking to her.

“I don’t expect to get my pieces back at this point. I really don’t even expect to get compensated or refunded for my pieces,” Vance said. “In the end, I kind of just want to hold them or whoever was in charge of all this accountable for what happened.”

APD tells KXAN that the theft report was “suspended due to no leads, no witnesses, and no video to this crime.” However, an APD PIO said that the case could be reopened if additional leads are presented.

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