The great art heist, Collinwood style


Last winter, crime took a new and creative twist in Collinwood. Thieves smashed a window at the True Art Gallery on 156th Street and stole 33 pieces —mostly paintings. The works, created by a group of six Akron artists known as Raw Umber, had only been on display for about a week before they disappeared. It was, as gallery co-owner Joanie Deveney puts it, “a real welcome to Collinwood.” … Then things got even weirder. As police offered a reward for tips, people in the neighborhood began reporting that the thieves were bragging up their goods, selling some of the art work for as little as $25. Finally, an undercover cop posing as a buyer arrested 57-year-old Melvin Hill, whom Deveney says was suspected of selling the paintings out of a nearby apartment. But only eight of the original works were recovered. On May 10, Deveney is hosting a benefit for the Raw Umber artists, hoping to recoup some of the cash they lost. The party at the Bratenahl Community Center will feature food, drinks, live music, and donated art to be raffled off. The suggested donation is $15, but “if you can only afford five bucks, come on in,” Deveney says. The festivities take place from 7 p.m. to midnight at the community center, 10300 Brighton Road, Bratenahl. For more information, contact Deveney at (216) 383-9468. -- Lisa Rab


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