Lodi Art Gallery Victim of Theft

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LODI -- The School Street Gallery is normally closed on Tuesdays, but artist and gallery co-owner Michael Montanez was at work supervising the temporary repair of a smashed wall-sized window.

Early in the morning, someone smashed the glass and took a $150 vase and a stained glass lamp valued at several thousand dollars.

The vase was found smashed on the street outside the gallery in an act of vandalism or perhaps was dropped when the thief tried to get away.

Montanez, who opened the gallery a year ago, believes it was crime of opportunity rather than a thief targeting specific artwork.

"You usually think banks or jewelry stores are targeted, but art galleries...it doesn't seem like it's too common," said Montanez.

One reason may be that the value of art depends on the beholder, and it's not easy to convert signed or well-known works of fine art to cash on Craigslist or at a pawn shop.

Montanez hopes that people will be on the lookout for the lamp in case it shows up on the Internet.

Montanez, a Lodi native, is familiar with historic School Street, an urban redevelopment success story. The street is popular with wine country tourists from the Bay Area and other countries, as well.

Other merchants confirm that there is not a huge vandalism problem on the street, although there is some occasional rowdiness when bars and restaurants close on weekend nights.

Montanez was getting social media posts about crime in historic Lodi and how Proposition 47, the drug rehab over jail time initiative, has increased crime.

Montanez was also the victim of an unrelated burglary at his home last month. But he is happy with the vibe the street generates, and he seemed undeterred by the run of bad luck.

"You just got to go with it and make the best of the situation," said Montanez.

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