September 19, 2017
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Rash of art thefts from Maine exhibit called ‘sad and disappointing’

By Donna Buttarazzi, York County Coast Star
Courtesy | York County Coast Star | BDN
Courtesy | York County Coast Star | BDN
This gold-plated oak leaf sculpture by artist John Bowdren was stolen from atop an 8-foot wooden post on the Barrier Beach Trail at Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm has had a rash of crime in recent weeks with the theft of three sculptures from the Power of Place exhibit.

Nik Charov, president of Laudholm Trust, said that when the first piece — a galvanized steel pine cone created by artist Dan Dowd — went missing on Aug. 5 they thought it might be a case of mischief. The following weekend on Aug. 13 another pine cone sculpture disappeared.

“Now we have two pinecones gone, and it’s mid-August,” Charov said. “So we filed a police report, and we put the information out on social media to alert people in hopes of recovering them. Those were the only two smaller pieces in the exhibit that could really travel, or so we thought.”

The two pine cone sculptures are valued at $750 each.

Despite increased security, another sculpture vanished last weekend, and this one took some effort on the part of the thief.

The most recent sculpture to be stolen is a gold-plated oak leaf sculpture by artist John Bowdren. It was stolen from atop an 8-foot wooden post on the Barrier Beach Trail at the reserve sometime last weekend. The gold-plated leaf, valued at $2,200, was removed from the post, and Charov said someone would have had to climb the post, or bring in a ladder.

“We’ve never had anything like this. We’ve never had a rash of thefts or vandalism here. It’s very sad and disappointing,” Charov said.

June LaCombe is an independent arts consultant specializing in sculpture in the New England region. She is the curator of the show at Wells Reserve at Laudholm, and has over 60 sculptures from New England artists installed in the Power of Place Sculpture Exhibition at Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

The exhibit opened on Memorial Day weekend and will remain through October, though Charov said some of the artists are getting nervous about the safety of their pieces.

“We already have one artist who is not comfortable leaving their work here following these thefts,” Charov said. “So the show is shrinking because of one jerk’s actions.”

Cameras have been installed, and the Wells Police Department is investigating the thefts. They’ve also stepped up patrols in the area, and Wells Reserve staff are searching websites like Craigslist, eBay and art auction sites in case someone tries to sell the pieces.

Charov and LaCombe are asking for help from anyone who might have a tip on where the sculptures might be, or who may have taken them. Charov said if the sculptures appear on the doorstep back at the reserve, “we will be glad to have them back and we won’t ask any questions.”

“Whatever gets the sculptures back, and restores our faith in humanity,” he said. “This is just a lousy way to treat beautiful things that are there for the public to enjoy.”

People with any information should message Wells Reserve on social media or call the main number at (207) 646-1555, or contact the Wells Police Department at (207) 646-9354.

 


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