Thursday, April 17, 2008

Artspace seeks info on stolen figure

By Donna Doherty
Register Arts Editor
— There’s a man missing from The Lot.
And if anyone sees him or knows of his whereabouts, Artspace gallery would like to know about it.
Several weeks ago, Leslie Shaffer, executive director of Artspace, which runs The Lot, a public art space at Orange and Chapel streets, noticed that a carved wooden figure with a tree emerging from its chest, one of the key components of artist Baptiste Ibar’s “Guided Men” installation, was missing.
Shaffer emailed the discovery to the Brooklyn-based Ibar, who has added pieces over the months to his work, which was installed in February as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
A statement released by the gallery Monday said, “We are not interpreting this theft as a direct comment on the theme of the piece, more likely it was an easy item to abscond with. ... His installation and the message he intended are still represented, however lacking from the loss of this integral element.”
The piece was secured to the ground only by the tree through its middle, which is also missing. The gallery has liability insurance, but it doesn’t cover The Lot, because it is a public space in which Artspace is granted air rights and use of the telephone poles and the ground.
Shaffer said that anyone with information about the piece should contact the gallery at (203) 772-2709.
Shaffer expressed disappointment about the theft, which was reported to police, though no formal complaint was made. She said that, when informed of the theft, Ibar regretted that he had not secured it better, adding, “but somehow I thought people were very respectful with the last piece.”
Ibar made one of his first forays into public art last fall during The Lasso Project, a public art project held in various outdoor sites during Artspace’s City-Wide Open Studios event. Shaffer said he asked to create something for The Lot.
“No one did anything the last time,” Shaffer said. “They left it clean and respected. I think this a problem with public art,” she continued. “I think a lot of artists consider going out and placing things in the environment, but have had a problem with graffiti and destruction. ... We want to continue to offer quality programs at this level, but it’s difficult to find artists when things disappear.”

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