BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — Ken Heard was just two days away from completing a renovation to his home and art studio on Gardere Lane in Baton Rouge when the unthinkable happened. Two months ago the two story structure caught fire in the middle of the night. All of Ken's art supplies and recent paintings were lost to the blaze.
"As you can see, all I have left if rubble," Heard told FOX44 News the day after the incident while scooping the thick layer of ash and debris left on the floor of his former home. "I had just spent months making this thing pristine. Ran water, electricity. Cleaned it. Put in a concrete floor. And named it Studio Coup Deville."
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the community is banding together to support Ken, who has no insurance money to collect to pay for the damage. Over a dozen local musicians, area artists, and long time friends will host a unique benefit to help get Ken painting again.
"In these situations where people need help and they're a productive piece of our society and our culture in Baton Rouge, we want to keep them working,” Chris LeBlanc, a local musician who is performing at the benefit, said. “We want to keep them in that mix of creating art, creating music, what ever it is."
The benefit will be held at Phil Brady’s Bar and Grill located at 4848 Government Street. Doors will open at 5:00 p.m. and the bands will begin at 6:00 p.m. Along with the music, there will be food and a raffle for prizes that were donated by area merchants.
“We explained to them the situation at hand and they were all very eager to help out,” Joe Shaab, one of Heard’s long time friends and organizer of the benefit, said when asked how they got so many merchants involved. “That’s how people in South Louisiana work. If someone is in need, we help each other.
“Nobody said no,” he added. “Everyone asked what they could do and how they could help a local man in need.”
The raffle tickets sell for $5 each, and feature gift certificates to businesses such as Juban’s Restaurant, Chris’s Steak House, Sammy’s Restaurant, Zeppelins Pizza, Fuzzy’s Tacos, Benny’s Car Wash, Gordon & Sandifer Auto Service, C&R automotive, Rapid Lube, Magnum Power, and many more.
All of the money collected from the raffle and the $15 cover charge at the door will be donated directly to Heard. The hope is to give the artist his retirement dream.
“He’s worked for 30 years in the tree cutting business, and it was his dream to do his artwork only when he retired,” Shaab explained. “But now, he doesn’t have a place to do his work.”
A donation fund has also been set up in Heard’s name. If you are interested in making a donation, you can do that at any Chase Bank under account number 303 169 9352, or by informing the teller it’s for the Ken Heard Fire Recovery fund.
Click here to learn more, see artwork by Ken Heard.