Trailer containing lifelong works stolen from elderly artist’s home in Magnolia Woods neighborhood

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:10 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A thick layer of sawdust covers Jim Jeansonne’s worn work sandals.

“I’ve loved cypress all my life,” the 79-year-old artist who grew up trudging Chico State Park near Ville Platte, La. told WAFB.

Jim’s electric hand grinder rips through the soft fibers of centuries-old sinker cypress exposing the beauty beneath its skin.

Jim Jeansonne
Jim Jeansonne(WAFB)

“Some people might say I’m cheating using a grinder,” he said. “But I’d carve it with my teeth if I had to.”

He’s been fascinated with art since he was a kid. “I got punished by the teachers because I was drawing in class, including drawing her,” he said. “It might not have been too flattering.”

Today, Jim carves slabs of cypress into swamp scenes in the yard behind his Magnolia Woods home. A carving like the seven-foot mother pelican feeding her baby he is currently sanding can take months to finish, and sell for thousands of dollars.

When Jim is done with them, he loads them into the trailer in his driveway where he stores them until his next art show. Last week, when Jim went out to get the paper, something was amiss.

“I looked where the trailer is,” he said. “I usually have to walk around it. And I said, ‘I think I had a trailer there at one time, and it’s gone.”

Jim Jeansonne's Artwork
Jim Jeansonne's Artwork(WAFB)
Jim Jeansonne's Artwork
Jim Jeansonne's Artwork(WAFB)
Jim Jeansonne's Artwork
Jim Jeansonne's Artwork(WAFB)

Jim’s trailer and all the art inside, some cypress, some bronze castings, some prints, was gone.

“They had to come up in my yard here, hitch it on to this thing with god knows what, and drag it,” he said.

The only thing the thieves left behind was a gouge the trailer jack had dug in the driveway.

”It must have hit the concrete there. Must have jarred the hell out of them,” he said.

No silent alarms to defeat like in the movies. No infra-red light beams. Just a trailer, a hitch, and a get-away car, and the art Jim has worked on most of his life was gone, to a burglar who likely had no idea the art heist he had just pulled off.

Jim is taking it all in stride, and starting over. What choice does he have? But if you’re a trailer thief who has recently upped his game to stealing sculptures, Jim would like you to know, he wants his art back.

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.