Celebrated artist with cerebral palsy loses studio, home to fire

(WVUE) - An artist whose work is known around the world lost his sanctuary to a fire Thursday night.

"Something you love so much, that gives you so much peace, just gone like this," folk artist Hank Holland said as he looked at a pile of debris that used to be his art studio.

Holland, who suffers with cerebral palsy, said he was asleep when his neighbor yelled at him to get out.

"I was in the camp when it started. If he wouldn't have came and banged on my door when he did, you'd be talking to a dead, you wouldn't be talking to me right now," said Holland, "I would be leaving behind my wife and my son."

Holland said he only had minutes to escape.

"The only thing I was able to grab was my cell phone and I had three dogs. One dog perished," Holland said.

That didn't stop him from calling out to her through the debris.

Holland's art is inspired by his life on the bayou.

"I started painting out here about a year and a half ago full time because the tranquility, the peace, so I had all my art supplies here," Holland said.

Holland said he spent 90 percent of his time at the studio and home to work on his art.

"It's heartbreaking. It's something I worked, my wife and I saved money for a while because I love being on the water," Holland said.

He estimates he lost a total of $100,000, but his friends are right by his side, ready to help him rebuild.

"My goal is to get him enough money to replace his paints and paintbrushes and get him back on the road with that. That's his only source of income," John Forrestier said.

Holland says his statue of Mary and American flag were some of the few items untouched by the fire, which he believes are signs of a brighter future ahead.

"There's always hope," Holland said as he kissed the statue.

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