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Local retired artist Holly Shaker, who now donates much of her work to local charities, is one of the artists who has an original work in the former home of Sea Fine Art Gallery in Calabash.
The difference is Shaker’s work is a painted surfboard she had on display at the gallery. She recently donated it to the Sunset Beach Turtle Patrol for an upcoming fundraiser.
Now, Shaker says building owner Forrest King has refused to allow Shaker to remove the board, which she was planning to give to the turtle patrol volunteers for an upcoming auction.
In the past, Shaker has made a number of T-shirts and other original pieces and donated them to the turtle patrol for fundraisers. When turtle patrol president Carmel Zetts contacted her about donating again, Shaker told her the sea-turtle themed surfboard hanging at the gallery would be a great way to raise money.
She says she has sold similar works for between $1,000 and $5,000.
When she went to the gallery to pick up the board, Shaker found the door locked and a phone number pasted on the door. It turned out to be the number of River Bend Gallery in Shallotte, where the owner told Shaker that gallery operator Russ Brassard had not paid his rent and was shutting down the gallery.
“I have no contract or consignment with Russ or anyone else,” Shaker said this week. “The board was just hanging there on display.”
“She said they closed and that people were trying to get their stuff out,” Shaker recalled.
She obtained King’s contact information and called him.
“I told him who I was and said I have a surfboard in there, and I’d like to pick it up, if he could meet me there and give it to me.
“He said no and didn’t really want to talk to me. He said he was calling an attorney.”
Shaker asked if the attorney could contact her and let her retrieve the board when everything was worked out.
“After he refused to give me the attorney’s phone number or name, I went down in person,” Shaker said. She said she thought if she could explain about the turtle patrol fundraiser, King would realize it didn’t have anything to do with Brassard’s business and would hand it over to her.
Shaker explained who she was, showed him turtle patrol T-shirts she had designed in the past and explained that the board had been donated to the Sunset Beach Turtle Patrol.
According to Shaker, King said he didn’t care and that he intended to sell the board to recoup his losses.
“It’s a copyrighted design. It’s worth about $5,000. If the tenant put a price on it, he did that on his own. It was really not for sale.”
Shaker said King threatened to call the police if she didn’t leave the building.
Contacted at his business this week, King would only say that Shaker insulted him and that he was going to do whatever his lawyer tells him to do.
“That’s all I have to say about it,” he said.
Shaker says she was dismayed by King’s attitude
“I am actually shocked that a man in a small town like Calabash—a businessman—would refuse to give something back to a nonprofit like the turtle patrol,” she said. “I’m trying to do a good deed and a good gesture. ee They could not care less.”
Zetts said this week that the group had planned to auction or raffle off the surfboard at some future date and was most likely going to give the proceeds to a nearby sea turtle hospital, which is planning to build a new facility.
“We do a lot of work for the sea turtle hospital, and they’re trying to build a new one,” she said.
Zetts said she plans on calling King about the board.
“I don’t see how he can keep something that isn’t his,” she said.