Woman who destroyed the work of a now-deceased Asheville artist loses appeal

On January 4, a panel of North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal of a convicted Asheville woman who destroyed the work of an artist who now died at an event in 2019.

A Buncombe County District Judge in October 2019 and then a jury in December 2019 found Zena Marie Redmond guilty of personal property damage over $ 200.

The charges stem from an incident on January 12, 2019 in which Redmond threw a balloon filled with black paint at one of Jonas Gerard’s paintings.

Gerard – died in September 2020 at the age of 79 – had just completed the painting as part of a performance at the Jonas Gerard Fine Art Gallery in Asheville, according to the appeal decision.

Jonas Gérard painting in his studio.  The Asheville Chamber of Commerce cut some of Gerard's work.

Gallery employees suspected that there might be “protesters” at the gallery on January 12, as they discovered a “blackish tar substance” and “burst balloons” in space that morning.

After Gerard finished a painting at a performance that day, someone in the crowd shouted and at least one balloon was thrown at the painting he had just completed, splashing it with a substance black.

Redmond was seen fleeing the building.

Law enforcement pursued her, found a black mark on Redmond’s hand, black paint on her and a balloon filled with black paint in her purse, according to the ruling.

After this evidence was presented at the Redmond trial, she was sentenced to 30 days in the custody of the county sheriff.

That sentence was then suspended and Redmond, instead, was placed on supervised probation for 18 months and ordered to pay $ 4,425 in restitution for the damaged paint.

The painting was valued at $ 8,850, according to testimony at the jury trial, allegedly the base price of all of Gerard’s paintings of a particular size. The price has been questioned by lawyers for Redmond.

Related:Vandals owe Jonas Gerard more than $ 34,000, judges Buncombe court

Redmond filed a detailed appeal on December 18, 2019, attempting to move the trial location out of Buncombe.

In that first appeal, she and her representation focused on the sexual abuse allegations made against Gerard in 2014 and 2015 via complaints from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Gerard has admitted to social media and to the charges against him, including a criminal charge of a sexual offense, which was filed with the EEOC complaint, court documents show.

Public demonstrations which often involved the destruction of property followed Gérard during the last years of his life. His art, the billboards that display it and his studio have all been vandalized in apparent acts of protest that began around 2015, according to the call.

The words “rapist” and “predator” were spray painted on the door of her studio and her Clingman Avenue van at one point, the call for the location change said.

These sexual abuse accusations and protests were the subject of frequent media coverage, according to the call, and therefore may have resulted in jury bias against Redmond.

She therefore asked for a trial in a court which “would not prejudice her”. The court rejected this request and, the same day, the jury found him guilty.

An advertising display at Asheville Regional Airport for Jonas Gerard was bare Tuesday following two acts of vandalism.  The artist has been accused of sexual assault, which Gérard denies.

The last appeal was filed in April 2021 and argued that the trial court erred as it failed to adequately define who owned the painting and what its real value was at the time of the incident. .

“The state wrongly identified Mr Gerard as the owner of the painting when he accused the crime of damage to property,” the appeal said, arguing that the painting was owned by Gerard’s company – Jonas Gerard Fine Arts, Inc. (JGFAI) – not the man himself.

The appeals court panel disagreed over Gerard’s relationship with his company over Redmond’s argument.

“Even after a painting was cataloged and offered for sale in the gallery, testimonials showed that Gérard retained the right to revisit his finished creations and modify or improve them if he felt they needed to.” a little more love, ”the ruling said. “JGFAI employed Gérard for the purpose of creating paintings and granted him control over new and finished paintings.”

Redmond’s attorney also argued that the value of the painting – which formed the basis of the restitution she was ordered to pay – was speculative since it had not yet been sold.

According to the testimony of a gallery employee, the painting was damaged when someone expressed interest in buying it. This person allegedly asked Gerard how much it cost, and he replied “$ 8,850.00”, the base gallery price for all paintings of this size.

“The evidence produced at trial was specific enough to show the market value of the painting prior to the damage caused by the defendant on the date of the loss, damage or destruction, and therefore we will not interfere with the decision of the trial court. instance, ”the ruling said.

Gerard’s gallery is still in the River Arts District of Asheville. Prints of his work are sold on his website.

Andrew Jones is a Buncombe County government and health care reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow him or contact him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter. Email him at [email protected]

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