Two Things Stolen: Art and a Ride

Two things have been stolen from me this year. The first was a painting, stolen from me at a NEMAA sponsored art fair in May.  That theft was disguised as an art sale, which of course made me happy, at first. Then twice as disappointed when I found out what happened. The second theft was less personal because it wasn’t something I’d made, but more personal due to where it happened.

To help myself feel better after the painting was stolen, I attempted to recreate it.  You can see the results below. I even got the same frame for it that looked so good on the original. Of course, the original does not look the same as the “re-creation”.   Abstract paintings are almost impossible to crreate twice, unlike something more representational. Knowing that, I didn’t try to make it exactly the same but instead tried to capture the essence of it.

Both paintings are 12″ x 24″ acrylic on panel. What I discovered from this experience is that abstracts should probably be considered a lot more expensive and valuable than representational art, because they are really impossible to recreate. The more representational and photograph-like a painting is, the easier it would be to make it twice. So the original painting was a real loss of a one-of-a-kind painting.

The second thing that was stolen from me this year was a Harley Davidson motorcycle, my husband’s pride and joy and our only other vehicle besides our van.

Stolen Harley. See description below!
Stolen Harley. See description below!

Now we are down to one vehicle with high miles, and two bicycles, both with flat tires.

The Harley was something my husband had wanted all his life and it was one of the least-fancy motorcycles that company makes, but it was something that meant a lot to him.  The thieves broke into our garage in the middle of the night and wheeled it out and probably loaded it into another vehicle and then hit the interstate where they probably took it to Wisconsin to sell at the big Harley rally going on the day after it was stolen. We live only about 100 miles from a town in Wisconsin where a big motorcycle theft ring was broken up only a few years ago.

Having something stolen does something to your faith in people. It changes how you look at people and it changes how you view their motives. It makes you jaded, cynical and suspicious. It makes you question motives. It makes it hard to concentrate on things you should be doing.

If all I’d had stolen this year was a painting I could even write that off to my own mistakes. I could tell myself that didn’t operate the app correctly when the painting was being “purchased” (even though I did) and the person didn’t get my emails (even though I know she was contacted twice).   I know that theft was deliberate, but in the end it was only a painting, something worth about $300, and it didn’t even happen in my city much less on my property.

The motorcycle theft is another class of theft, something more personal against us.  Someone watched our house for our habits and maybe even practiced the theft. They maybe had to get information from neighbors about our schedules. They did it at just the right time. They broke into our property and they took something of high value, and then they rifled through our car, took some money, and took other valuable things from our car. For an entire week we had to deal with the fallout of this theft. It harmed our trust not just in people in general,  but in our neighbors. We felt that it could not have been done so quickly and quietly without the assistance of some of our neighbors, people we have lived around for years. We now look at them differently.

Two thefts in one year is a lot to handle, and the year is not yet over. I don’t know the effects this will have in the long term, but in the short term it has taken away some of my creativity.  I feel less imaginative and it’s harder to concentrate. There will be serous ramifications to my work if I don’t get back to where I was before this happened.  I know it will happen eventually, but this slump is coming at a very bad time because I have several art shows coming up that I need to do work for.

The type of theft that we experienced destroys something that is inherent in a functioning society, in a functioning community and neighborhood. The police officer we talked to last weekend told us that thefts are up all over the city.  That didn’t make us feel better.  Something in our society is broken when thefts are up “all over”.

Now I know stealing property is not the worst crime in the world. The root cause is poverty and that also has a root cause, and on and on, until you get the to bottom of the pile of root causes and you are left with one thing.  I’ll keep my philosophies on that to myself for now. I used to be a political activist, but now I’m just a painter.

At least I can console myself somewhat with the fact that the women who stole my painting last May liked my art work.  I had a lot of wrapped-up paintings stored in the garage when the motorcycle was stolen, and the criminals that night didn’t take any of them. Maybe they didn’t have time to look at them, maybe they were spooked by a noise and left quickly.  I’m a very tiny bit micro-insulted that they took the motorcycle and didn’t take even a small painting or two with them.   They could have fit a couple in the saddlebags they stole but they didn’t. But of course they were there for the Harley.

I’ve been through a lot this year. 2013 has been very tough for me so far, in some big ways. Sales are down, art fairs are not well attended, people have stolen from me twice, and funding for my project Art of Impact is hard to find. I no longer have a studio either and that is also difficult to work around. There is a big psychological boost in having a studio that makes you feel more serious and inspires you to work harder. It’s hard to define but people who have had a studio know what I mean. You take yourself more seriously when you have a separate place to be “at work”.

That is why part of Art of Impact is about getting my work back into a studio and extending that into a gallery. Support Art of Impact here.

Hopefully the rest of 2013 will be better.


**The stolen motorcycle was a 2001 Harley Davidson XL 883 2001 Sportster, stolen from central Minnesota August 31st. Scrapes in the leather seat.  Distinctive Blue Kuryakyn Hyperchanger Air Filter. The bike also had a brand new battery, a new silver battery cover and a sissy bar. The saddlebags were original Harley saddlebags, also stolen. If you have any information about this stolen motorcycle contact the St. Cloud Police department, 320-251-1200