A local artist is dismayed after three paintings valued at $2,400 were stolen from her exhibit at Charleston County Library’s main branch on Calhoun Street this week.

To offer tips

Anyone with information on the theft can call Charleston police at 577-7434 or Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.

Artist Alizey Khan, 23, of Charleston, told police three of her most expensive paintings were taken July 30. She said she knew of no one who would take them or held a grudge toward her, according to a police report.

The library manager told officers a man with a backpack was seen on a surveillance camera walking into the room, grabbing the paintings and quickly leaving. None of the staff members recognized the man, the report stated.

The paintings — two 12x12s and a 12x16 — were small enough to fit into the man’s backpack, so he could walk out past a security guard unnoticed, library spokeswoman Jamie Thomas said.

On her website, Khan asked people to contact her with any information that could lead to the recovery of the paintings, “Eagle Nebula (Pillars of Creation),” “Flame Nebula” and “Pleiades.”

“All the pieces were painted in my layered resin technique, and therefore each took weeks to complete,” she said on her site. “The ‘Flame Nebula’ one alone had about 15 layers on it — and each layer has to sit out overnight to cure, so it took a minimum of 15 days assuming that I could even have time to work on it for 15 days in a row. ... I feel a bit violated, to be honest, especially since the three stolen pieces were the ones I was proudest of in the whole exhibition.”

The library regularly features the work of local artists in the Saul Alexander Gallery on the main floor.

Khan’s display, “Interspatial: Astronomical Artwork. A Solo Exhibition,” opened July 2 and is slated to run until Aug. 17. The rest of the paintings are still on display.

This is the first time anything like this has happened, Thomas said.

“The whole idea is to make of all types of art available to the public without charge,” she said. “It lets the community enjoy this without having to pay anything. It’s sort of sad when somebody abuses this for their own gain and steals that opportunity from the rest of the community.”

The exhibits involve a measure of trust, and it would be cost prohibitive to have a full-time guard watching everybody in the gallery, she said. The staff also would not want to search the backpacks of the hundreds of people who go in and out of the library every day, she said.

Dave Munday contributed to this report. Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556.