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Friday, January 25, 2008

Sculptor reclaims stolen work

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
NEW HAVEN
— For sculptor Susan Clinard, the scene was a little surreal.
Lined up next to confiscated weapons in the property room of the Yale Police Department Thursday was her tribute to Martha Graham, one of a group of artworks swiped from a Yale University venue two months ago.
"Right along besides the big rifle guns were all these sculptures," Clinard said.
She was given eight of her 10 stolen sculptures Thursday, which are now back in her West Haven studio after a bizarre journey.
Jodonell Powell, 54, a career criminal, has been charged with the thefts of the artworks, which he allegedly dragged from the Marsh Botanical Garden off Mansfield Street in November and later tried to sell from the back of a stolen van.
The first person who was asked if he wanted to purchase the pieces, which were valued at a total of $18,000, recognized their value, and after reading about Clinard’s loss, helped police track down Powell.
Clinard, who taught stone carving at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and whose figurative works have been displayed at scores of galleries, said the sculptures have been returned just in time.
Some may be beyond repair, but others will be among a group of 37 pieces she is crating for shipment to Menton in the south of France for an exhibition at the European Palace, which starts in March and runs through June.
The invitation-only show will then travel to Switzerland.
"It’s the first time I will be in Europe," Clinard said of the opportunity. The missing works will now make it for her shipping date Monday. "Literally, just in time," she said.
Clinard has an exhibit on display at Atticus Bakery and Bookstore on Chapel Street through the end of February, with a reception at the store scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 7.
Twenty percent of the sales proceeds from the works at Atticus will go toward Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services in New Haven, a refugee resettlement organization.
Clinard is a former social worker; many of her works are inspired by the suffering of refugees in the world’s trouble spots.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.

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