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Thief steals 8 paintings from gallery space in Denver

One artist's paintings were listed for $18,000, but they hold far more sentimental value.

DENVER — The artwork stored inside Dan Drossman's Denver studio belongs on walls, but the curator and gallery director is reluctant to display any work at the moment.

"These works here are basically the leftovers of the show that we had where the burglary happened," Drossman said, pointing to the paintings resting against his studio walls.

On Feb. 25, a man dressed in black lifted eight paintings from the walls of a gallery space inside a Denver office building. 

“If there’s a better word for devastating, you know, that’s what it is," Drossman said.

Drossman had gathered the artwork from artists who used to be classmates. He curated a show for fellow 2006 graduates of the New York School of Visual Arts masters program. The paintings were displayed in the hallways of an office building at 3258 Larimer Street. Drossman calls it the Waiting Room Gallery.

“It’s a great little space," artist Jill Alexander said. "It’s not really a traditional gallery space."

Alexander lives in Wall Township, New Jersey, but she shipped four paintings for the show in Denver. The artist and high school art teacher expected to part with paintings only briefly. She had no intention of selling them.

“I did price them high because I really didn’t want to sell them, but I really wanted to do the show," she said. 

Alexander's four paintings depict scenes in Cuba she first captured in photos during a 2017 trip with her husband. Alexander worked on the paintings as she cared for her mother, who was battling a form of leukemia. 

“We spent many hours watching television together 'cause that’s all [my mom] really could do, and I would paint," Alexander said.

Alexander hung the finished paintings in her mother's room, where they stayed after her mother passed away.

"I actually took them off the wall to send them to the show, so I really didn’t want to sell them," she said.

Credit: KUSA
A man dressed in black with sunglasses stole eight paintings from the Waiting Room Gallery in Denver.

Alexander's paintings were on display for about a week until a thief stuffed them into a duffel bag with four others. The artist expects the man doesn't understand the sentimental value of the paintings.

“I could sit here today, and I could remake the paintings, but I could never get back those paintings," she said. "So that’s the hardest part."

Whatever the stolen paintings are worth to a thief, the artist values them much more. 

"I don’t want to see anything bad happen to this person," Alexander said. "I just want them back. They’re something I could never replace.”

Drossman started a fundraiser through GoFundMe to help recoup the cost of the stolen paintings. 

Denver Police assigned a detective to the case. A spokesman for the department said an unknown suspect entered the lobby of the office building and took a lamp and multiple pieces of artwork listed for sale.

No arrests have been made. Police encourage anyone with information on the theft or the suspect to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720)-913-STOP (7867).

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