Joe Average painting stolen from affordable housing building for senior artists

Security footage from the PAL Vancouver building shows the man and woman leaving the building on Thursday evening with the artwork.   (PAL Vancouver via Facebook - image credit)
Security footage from the PAL Vancouver building shows the man and woman leaving the building on Thursday evening with the artwork. (PAL Vancouver via Facebook - image credit)

A charity that provides affordable housing for senior artists is looking for a valuable work of art that was stolen from its Vancouver building.

PAL Vancouver says the piece, titled Born to Pollinate, was donated to them by well known Vancouver artist Joe Average last year.

They are asking anyone with information about the theft to contact them.

"Art is everything to us, to everyone living there ... It's just really sad," said Lynn Ross, executive director of PAL Vancouver.

Security footage shows a young man and woman entering the West End building around 8:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, gaining access after they appeared to dial several buzzer numbers.

Joe Average
Joe Average

They went to the eighth floor of the building, where they spent about 10 minutes. Ross said footage showed the man sitting on a couch while the woman played piano.

Just before they left, the man took the Joe Average artwork from the wall and carried it out the front door.

Ross said both the lobby and the eighth floor feature several other artworks on the walls, but the stolen piece was the most valuable they have. She estimates it is worth "several thousand dollars."

"It's not just the money. It was perfect there and so beautiful and Joe means so much to us, it's just really heartbreaking."

PAL Vancouver's Cardero building houses 135 people, over half of whom are senior artists who pay no more than 33 per cent of their annual income to stay there.

The Vancouver Police Department said it is investigating the theft of the painting, but has not identified the suspects yet.

Not the first Average theft

Joe Average says it's not the first time art he has donated has been stolen.

Average has donated several pieces to the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and St. Paul's Hospital, all of which have been stolen over the years.

"I guess it's just what happens, I don't know. I think it's horrible," he said.

The City of Vancouver's banners for the 11th International AIDS Conference in 1996, which featured an image Average had created, were also consistently stolen.

"The mayor… came up to me at one of my shows and he said 'Joe, you have the dubious distinction of having the most banners stolen off of city poles than any other artist,'" Average said.

"Stealing is bad ... but it's kind of a compliment."

Average said he will contact PAL Vancouver to donate another artwork.