Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stolen sculpture

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Dee Clements Birds of Happiness
  • Dee Clements' "Birds of Happiness": Gone

You no doubt read earlier today on the Arkansas Blog about the theft of parts of three sculptures from the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park.

City Director Dean Kumpuris, who's made Riverfront Park his project and who heads up the Sculpture in the River Market group that purchases the art for the city, said this afternoon that he's discussed with City Manager Bruce Moore putting security cameras at the sculpture garden and increasing security. The park is now full of sculpture and other assets, Kumpuris noted, and the city must start taking care of it.

Truman Tolefree, director of Little Rock Parks and Recreation, Tolefree said there is already some security in the park, but "if folks want to steal, they'll find a way to do it."

No kidding. The guys who stole the sculptures, whenever they stole them — the theft wasn't reported until this morning by a Parks employee who was checking the park — came equipped with some kind of tool capable of grinding through the base of Dee Clements' "Birds of Happiness" and taking off the mounting bolts from Bryan Massey's "Uptown Saturday Night" to remove one of two dancing figures in the piece. The third thing stolen, the small figurine on Lorri Alcott Fowler's "Conversation with Myself," was removed by force.

It was the second time the small figures in "Conversation" and "Uptown Saturday Night" have been yanked off; both were vandalized in 2010. (At that time, vandals left the dancing figure from "Uptown" on the ground.)

"It's honestly embarrassing," Kumpuris said, that there are people in Little Rock who are so "dumb, silly or mean" that they would destroy a public amenity.

Kumpuris said the $20,000 estimated value of the sculpture was the original purchase price plus 20 percent, representing increased value.

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