Vandals cause $100,000 damage in Manitou

August 16, 2012

Natalie Johnson had a reaction unfit for publication Thursday morning when she walked inside the Business of Arts Center in Manitou Springs and saw it had been vandalized.

“It was a swear word,” the executive director of the center said she uttered when she saw water dripping through the ceiling, running down walls, sopping the carpet and soaking valuable art pieces.

Sometime on Wednesday night, someone used sheets of plastic to cover all of the drains at the building at 515 Manitou Ave. and then turned on the water full force.

Johnson estimates the damage to be more than $100,000. To her knowledge, nothing was stolen. She notified Manitou Springs Police, who say they are investigating the case. A police spokesman said the case is an “ongoing investigation” and there have been no arrests.

Whoever it was didn’t break in and probably had a key to the building, she said. The center rents space to several artists as well as other tenants who all have keys or could have passed them onto someone else, she said.

“I would say that 99.99 percent of the people in the world are incapable of something like this,” she said.

The center, founded in 1986, has two adjacent buildings on Manitou Avenue.  The original building, 513 Manitou Ave., is host to the majority of the rented artist studios as well as a retail shop and classrooms. That building was not damaged, Johnson said. The building that was damaged, 515 Manitou Ave., is a 12,000-square foot building that houses offices for the center as well as a 2,500-foot events room. It was in that room where a lot of original artwork was damaged, Johnson said.

One of the paintings was by Lance Green, valued at $10,000. In all, Johnson estimates about three dozen pieces were damaged.

“We won’t know how bad the damage is until they dry a bit,” she said. “At this moment, we’re hoping we haven’t lost anything but that won’t be determined for awhile.”

Insurance is expected to cover the structural damage to the building, so Johnson said she’s most worried about the irreplaceable art and about possible revenue lost from events scheduled at the building while the repair work is underway. She hopes that most of those events will be able to be rescheduled or moved next door.

“It’s just shock and you sort of respond emotionally because you feel like it’s a personal attack,” she said. “The rest of the day it hits in waves as you stumble upon something that’s ruined or damaged.”  

Contact Maria St. Louis-Sanchez: 636-0274
Twitter @mariastlouis
 Facebook Gazette Maria St. Louis-Sanchez

Contact Maria St. Louis-Sanchez: 636-0274
Twitter @mariastlouis
 Facebook Gazette Maria St. Louis-Sanchez

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