Local artist Bernie Aceti has a simple message for the person who stole her Elvis painting from an art exhibit at This Ain’t Hollywood over the weekend.

“You’re a coward,” Aceti told CBC Hamilton Monday morning. “Return it or pay for it if you love it that much.”

Her lovingly-crafted version of Elvis disappeared during a show on Saturday night. She and bar staff assume the 12 x 12 inch painting was simply stashed under a jacket or in a bag and taken right out the door. It was on sale for $140.

The North End bar has been hosting exhibits for local artists for just over four years, and Aceti’s exhibit was her first serious opportunity to show off her skills. The stay-at-home mom has two young boys — three months old and 18 months old, respectively.

“The only time I have to paint is late at night, when they're asleep,” she said. Aceti painted Elvis over five days in the beginning of January. She says she’s never heard of someone stealing local art from a small show at a local bar.

“It blows my mind,” she said. “I felt like my heart was take right out of my chest.”

“This has been the first time that something like this has happened,” said Lou Molinaro, one of the owners at This Ain’t Hollywood.

“Art is a valuable commodity - the value is based on the passion and time that an artist puts towards their work. One of the most disrespectful things a person can do is steal art,” Molinaro said. “I can't imagine that there is any satisfaction that this art thief can possibly have, by looking at this piece of stolen art hanging from their wall.”

Both Aceti and Molinaro are calling for the painting’s return. Molinaro says the person who took it can contact him directly and “discretion will certainly be assured.”

“Why invite bad karma into your life? Do the right thing and return the art back to where it belongs,” Molinaro said.

Anyone with information on the painting’s whereabouts is asked to contact Aceti by email at baceti@me.com.