Local artist Cisco Lindsey has long forgotten the pain and frustration he felt after one of his paintings was plucked from a wall at a Mount Pleasant fitness center nearly 12 years ago.
He did his best to re-create the stolen piece, putting oil to canvas in a golden-hued depiction of a Wild Dunes marsh. And, eventually, he moved on to other projects.
What he didn't expect was for the painting to ever appear in his life again.
But that's what he said happened when a friend and fellow artist uncovered the piece earlier this month at a consignment shop on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.
"Artists tend to notice other art everywhere they go," Lindsey said of his friend Debbie Daniels' find.
Daniels, a West Ashley artist who often paints marshes, said she was drawn to the piece of Wild Dunes from across the room at Encore Interiors earlier this month.
"I walked over and climbed up on a couch so I could get a better look at it," Daniels said.
Surprised by what she saw, Daniels sent Lindsey a picture of the painting right away, she said.
After 12 long years, Lindsey, an Isle of Palms resident, said he had to turn to his records to refresh his memory of the theft.
"I had completely forgotten about it. I never thought I'd see it again," Lindsey said.
He flipped back to Sept. 28, 2002. Where he would normally list the name of a buyer, Lindsey instead saw a notation indicating that the piece of work had been stolen.
Like the missing piece, the oil painting that hung from a wall at the consignment shop contained his signature, "Cisco," scrawled on its bottom right corner.
Lindsey contacted Mount Pleasant police March 14 to determine his next move.
To his surprise, an officer retrieved the framed painting and returned it to him that same day, he said.
An Encore Interiors employee said the piece arrived at the shop with a vendor less than a month ago.
Police continue to investigate the painting's whereabouts over the years with hopes of tracking down the person who snatched it from East Shore Athletic Club.
Lindsey said he had considered selling the painting to a woman for $400 back then, but it disappeared before he got the chance.
"It's a terrible feeling to have your work stolen, and all my artist friends say the same thing," Lindsey said. "It's like you've just been violated. You put so much work into these paintings and someone comes along and just takes it."
A string of art thefts made news last year when seven paintings worth $5,825 were stolen from exhibits in the Saul Alexander Gallery and the lobby of Charleston County library's main branch on Calhoun Street.
At least one of those paintings was anonymously mailed back to the library, officials reported.
Lindsey said his painting held sentimental value as he had completed it early in his career as an artist, he said.
Lindsey began painting after retiring in 1999. He went on to serve as president of the Charleston Artist Guild in 2006, and is currently a member of the Mount Pleasant Artist Guild.
He recently wrote to The Post and Courier about being reunited with his work in a Letter to the Editor.
"The moral to this story for all my artist friends who have had paintings stolen: Don't give up. Perhaps someday they will come back to you," he wrote.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
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