A trailer containing all that two Lenoir artists used to travel to festivals and support their business – essentially, a mobile studio – was stolen Tuesday night.

Charlie Frye, a painter, said that he found the trailer was missing when he stepped outside of his apartment in Lenoir about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

“There was a car parked in the place where the trailer was usually parked,” he said.

Frye and his wife, Susan, a sculptor and mixed-media artist, own Folk Keeper Gallery and Antiques, a folk art gallery and antique store on West Avenue in downtown Lenoir. They travel to eight to 10 festivals a year to sell their art, a venture that provides the financial padding needed to keep their store open.

The stolen trailer, which was locked, is a white 1995 Pace American trailer that once belonged to Frye’s grandfather. It contained everything the couple needs to go to the festivals, where folk art collectors gather. There were slate gray Pro Panels – special walls designed to display art; a large, white festival tent; pieces of pottery that included at least one piece of Catawba Valley pottery: an antique churn; tools used to set up their display; a plank and fiddle case used as a sign; art supplies, including paint, surfaces to paint on and brushes; crates and tables; and possibly several paintings. The trailer has a round Folk Keeper sticker on it.

“It’s our livelihood,” Frye said. “Going on the road is the way we make our living. … Collectors from all over the South come to these festivals.”

The trailer's contents essentially form a mobile extension of Folk Keeper Gallery and Antiques.

“We literally build a little room (at each festival). We build a store,” Frye said. “It’s our gallery on the road.”

Susan Frye said that many people have reached out since the theft was announced through social media.

“Everyone’s been so nice,” she said. “They’ve shared it and contacted us.”

Charlie Frye agreed.

"We love and trust this community," he said. "And that's very naive, but it's the way we live our life." 

The Lenoir Police Department asks that anyone with information about this case call the department at 828-757-2100 or the Lenoir/Caldwell County Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.