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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Kailua muralist's sprayer stolen

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Well-known muralist Ron Artis wanted a patriotic mural full of rich colors, but the theft of his equipment has left him feeling blue.

Ron Artis, known for his patriotic murals, hopes whoever stole his primary paint sprayer will just return it — no questions asked. The theft has forced Artis to use an old paint sprayer that will take longer to complete the mural he is working on in Waiau. The $3,000 sprayer was stolen from Artis' truck parked at his Kailua home.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Thieves raided Artis' pickup truck yesterday morning in Kailua and stole his $3,000 commercial paint sprayer, which he was using to paint his biggest mural yet, a three-story patriotic tribute painted on The Space Place in Waiau, in the Pearl City area.

The 52-year-old artist, who champions anti-graffiti programs with the Honolulu Police Department and has painted hundreds of murals across Hawai'i, said the mural was his "Christmas present to Hawai'i."

So it came as a surprise when Artis awoke at his Keolu Drive home and saw that his newly purchased 200-pound, Wagner 8000 sprayer, the one he calls the "granddaddy of all sprayers," was gone.

"I walked out (yesterday) morning, and I felt like I was raped," Artis said. "I just want it back."

Artis said he filed a police report and is working with a weaker sprayer to finish the mural near Buzz's Original Steak House that will include such patriotic objects as a flag, bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, a fighter jet, battleship, helicopter and submarine.

"This is the most powerful mural I've done in my life," Artis said.

Artis said he wanted to finish the mural by the end of this week, but the theft delayed the completion by at least a week. Artis said he the weaker sprayer limits his strokes on the gigantic mural and added that he can't afford to buy another sprayer.

"I'm self-employed," said Artis, a Vietnam veteran and the father of nine children. "I can't take a hit like this. It hurts."

Artis' wife, Victoria, said she was disappointed that someone would steal from her husband because she said his murals have "healed" communities, offering them a sense of pride and security.

She said thieves stole the sprayer in front of their home despite their strong floodlight. Ron Artis said the theft occurred between midnight and 5:30 a.m.

"It had to be someone bolder than bold," said Victoria Artis.