A mystery in Lafayette, you may have seen them, from UL's campus to the Mall of Acadiana. A painting of a mouse on an ace of spades has been popping up all over Johnston Street. The image is harmless, but some Lafayette business owners think the artist is gambling with their property. But not everyone is bothered by it.
Brenna Winston of Lafayette says she met the artist, known as "Ace", where she used to work. Before she started her shift, they would sit and talk about his artwork. He even gave her a personalized copy of the same mouse showing up all over Johnston Street.
"I get excited everytime I see it. I think I know that guy," said Winston. "He wants people to appreciate art and to not be angry about it, see it and say oh he's doing something wrong. It's just something fun to look, at it's just fun."
But the meaning behind this image is a mystery, leaving people in Lafayette to wonder.
"Honestly we thought it was all gang signs, or like a business promotion," said Kevin Courville of Lafayette. "Finding out what it was today was a bit of a shock that it's just a local artist."
Every painting has been glued, making it impossible to easily remove the images. The paintings range in size from about six inches to over a foot, and have shown up all over public, and private property.
"Anytime anyone takes someone else's property and defaces it, or damages it, in a way that they put some kind of marking, or item onto it, it's considered simple criminal damage to property, and they can be charged with it," said Paul Mouton with the Lafayette Police Department.
A business owner, who wants to remain anonymous, says the artist's free expression is jeopardizing the beautification of Lafayette. Last night, he found two of these cardboard paintings glued to his business sign. The damage will have to be repaired at his expense. The artwork is signed, dated and numbered. According to a picture shown to KATC, there are at least 36 around town.
"The person that's committing these offenses is actually damaging property of others," said Mouton. "That's where the problem lies, it's not in the artwork itself, but it's how the artwork is being distributed. In this case, it's being glued, or stuck to items, and actually damaging the property."
The artist could face a charge of criminal damage to property. Possible punishment ranges from a $1,000 fine to jail time. Lafayette Police are asking anyone with information on the identity of this person to call crime stoppers at 232-TIPS.