Thefts prompt art gallery security increase

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that three of the four pieces were taken from the hallways outside the gallery.
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., The Muleskinner) — In the past year and a half, four works of art have been stolen from the University of Central Missouri. One was stolen from the university’s Gallery of Art and Design, and three were stolen from the hallways outside the gallery.
Kieu (Jen) Tran created a piece for her painting class that was different from her usual nature/landscape works. Her inspiration came from a Google search with the word balcony.
What she did not expect was that the piece would turn out so well that it would be stolen from the Art Center hallway.
Jen noticed her painting was missing when she went to pick up her artwork from her painting class on July 1. Puzzled and worried, Jen sought help from Mick Luerhman, chair of the department of art and design, and Christian Cutler, director of the Gallery of Art and Design.
The painting was on display over the previous weekend.  The painting was last seen on the evening of Sunday, June 30, which confirmed the suspicion that the artwork had been stolen.
“Many people remember seeing it, then it was just gone,” said Luehrman. “We put out signs asking for people to identify it, if they had seen it, but nothing came of it.”
Luehrman said that the department is working with Public Safety on enhancing the security of the art gallery and hallways displaying artwork.
“We actually have immediately taken security even more seriously,” said Cutler. “We have security plans in the works as well. Now, we are much more watchful of our exhibits and all of my gallery staff are aware of our past difficulties.”
The “past difficulties” referenced are three works stolen from the Art Center hallway over the last year and a half. Two of the missing pieces were entries in the 2013 High School Art Competition and Exhibition. The only piece stolen directly out of the gallery was a work by Cassandra Rohe called “Lift” for the annual CITATION Exhibition.

"Lift" by Cassandra Rohe. The piece was stolen from the Gallery of Art and Design and remains missing.
“Lift” by Cassandra Rohe. The piece was stolen from the Gallery of Art and Design and remains missing.

“It is sad when a piece of art disappears from the department,” Cutler said. “Especially from inside the gallery, let alone the hallways. Both the gallery and the hallways are really extensions of the classroom. The students and the professors utilize the hallways as an open display area for all students in all departments to see what we’re doing.”
Tran will continue to display her artwork, just more cautiously.
“I am an artist, and these things do happen,” Tran said. “However, the feeling is different when it finally does happen. No artist truly wishes their work was stolen.”
Artwork is put on display for people to look at and enjoy. Luehrman said that is disgraceful for someone to take a student’s artwork.