One of Columbia’s most iconic characters, artist “Chicken Man” Ernest Lee, is getting lots of support after word got out that his art trailer was recently stolen.
An online fundraising group and local law enforcement are backing Lee in hopes of either finding his stolen trailer or buying him a new one.
The trailer, Lee’s mobile art studio, was stolen in early September, Free Times reports.
But word of the crime recently took off on social media, and a GoFundMe online fundraiser was created Friday. The funds will go toward replacing his trailer, the fundraiser’s creator, Les Hanna Harper, wrote on the page.
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By Saturday morning, more than $3,100 already had been raised, exceeding the campaign’s goal of $3,000 in less than 24 hours.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department released a news brief late Friday night, seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect wanted for larceny in connection with the trailer’s disappearance. Deputies are working with the Columbia Police Department
The trailer was stolen from Gervais and Oak streets, deputies say. That’s where Lee often displays his work.
It is red and white with a painting of a screeching chicken – Lee’s signature painting – on the side.
Lee and his artwork are widely known and loved in Columbia and far beyond. His funky chicken paintings have become iconic of the capital city’s art and culture scene.
According to Free Times, the popularity of Lee’s paintings has risen so high that the typical cost of his artwork has jumped to $90 from $50 only a year ago.
Lee claims to have sold some 28,000 paintings in his career, Free Times reports.
The sheriff’s department asks anyone with information about the trailer’s theft to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.