Steven Robert Allen
4 min read
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John Schenk called me the other day to explain his terrible dilemma. If you have any knowledge of his stolen sculpture, please contact me at so I can pass along the information to him.—SRA

An open letter to the band of thieves who stole my steel sculpture bench “The Cactus Sheriff” from the Rockin' R Gallery in Placitas on March 24, 2006.

Dear Scum of the Earth:

You stole my art! Art galleries do not own the art they display and sell. The artists who make the art, own the art, and then consign with the galleries to sell it. When you steal art, you punk-ass losers, you destroy the lives of the artists. 90% of artists cannot live off their art and literally finance it for “public entertainment” and try to be happy if they break even or make a few bucks. We basically provide free entertainment.

The bench that you stole weighs approximately 800 pounds and is priced at $17,000. It took a great effort on your part to steal it. “The Cactus Sheriff” was designed, built, and financed by me, with money acquired by my work as a carpenter—hard-earned money from hard work. The bench is a one-only, unique creation born from over 20 years of development and experience teaching myself a unique and original form of sculpture. It was a labor of dedication and love.

My work begins with dozens of drawings and at least a month of time to design and work up a full-scale cardboard model. Then it takes another month to fabricate and finish the steel and prime it with top-quality auto primer. Then another month to hand paint, layering and under painting many different color coats, like painting on canvas. I have to lie on the ground to paint under and in between the surfaces in the complex layers of images and shapes on both sides and edges with multiples coats of paint and colors.

I do all of this work at my own expense and time, on pure speculation, driven solely by my intense desire to create something unique and beautiful. Then I hope I might be able to sell it.

What gives you worthless punks the right to steal three months of my life and the cream of my experience, skills, and creativity? NOTHING! You are cretins. What gives you the right to steal my future? There is no insurance for me to collect and nobody to compensate me for my loss. You have essentially put a knife to my throat and cut it.

I am 58 years old and in poor health. There will never be benches like these again because I'm the only person who possesses the variety of talents, skills, and dedication needed to build such masterpieces. And now that you scum have stolen one, I have no hope of benefiting from my hard work. I will have no relief and comfort in my failing years from a lifetime of struggle.

If you are going to be scum-of-the-earth thieves, you need to know the human consequences of your despicable actions and the personal damage that you have done to me. I extend this to the thieves who stole other artists' sculptures from Rockin'R Gallery and other pieces of mine—“The Angel” and “The Dog”—from the Art is OK Gallery in Albuquerque. I am so happy that you like my art, you cretin scum. I curse the air you breathe, the life you live, and the profits you make from my life and art.

You thieves have earned shame for your crime and the disgrace of your families for your thieving ways.

Jon Schneck

Sandia Park

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