A recent theft from the Penticton Art Gallery has the potential to cause repercussions far outweighing the small size of the object stolen.
Before any of that happens, though, curator Paul Crawford is going out of his way to try and recover a Meerschaum pipe removed from a sculpture that was part of the recently completed exhibition of work by the noted author and artist Nick Bantock.
The pipe is carved in the shape of a lion’s head and while its value is nominal, its character makes it unique and impossible to replace.
“The piece relied on the pipe. WIthout the pipe, you might as well have stolen the whole piece,” said Crawford. He has tried to find a similar pipe online, but has not had any luck, nor does he expect to.
“In terms of reward, I have another Meerschaum pipe that I would be happy to exchange. It’s a brand-new one, never been used. Or we can do a cash reward as well,” said Crawford, adding that the best thing would be to just have the pipe quietly returned.
The pipe can be returned to the gallery no questions asked, Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 12 to 5 p.m. on the weekend. It can also be returned anonymously to the Penticton Art Gallery and it can be left anytime in the mailbox located by the gallery’s back door.
“That would be the best. No questions asked, I am not looking to prosecute anybody,” said Crawford.
And since the pipe was the focal point of the artwork, that means that when the insurance claim is submitted, it will have to be for the cost of the full piece, which has a market value of $10,500.
That leads to more problems, including finding the money to pay the $2,000 deductible for the insurance claim. That, he said, will affect other programming at the gallery.
“We can’t afford to pay that fee, so we’ll have to cut from other things to pay for it,” he said.
Also at stake is the gallery’s reputation.
“It will certainly impact our reputation in the museum and the artistic community and potentially will affect our ability to get other similar shows,” said Crawford, adding this is the first time such a thing has happened during the course of an exhibition.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to contact Const. Bollinger at the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300 and quote File Number 11-15391, or contact Crawford, at 250-493-2928 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.