It appears the College has attracted a more cultured breed of criminal.
Someone allegedly snatched eight student works from the Holman Hall painting studio in the past two months, leading to an uproar from the artists on facebook.com.
Cody Rounds, junior fine arts major, noticed one of her works had gone missing from the studio on March 24, and immediately started a Facebook group called “HELP ME FIND THIS PAINTING!!!”
The group description reads: “My painting was taken from Holman Hall March 24th, and I (really) would like it back. I don’t care at all about who has it or for what reason, I just would like it returned. It has a great personal significance to me and I am heartbroken that it is missing.”
Currently, the group has 487 members.
Rounds filed a report with the office of Campus Police on March 29 but said she had no interest in pressing charges.
“I just want the painting back, I don’t care who did it or why they took it, I just want it back,” she said. “I would rather not know who did it.”
Several other students came forward after Rounds created the group to seek help finding their own stolen artwork. Becky Barrett, senior history major, left a message on the group’s “wall” describing a painting that went missing in February.
Barrett left the painting, a portrait of a friend with blonde hair sitting outside the New Library, on a drying rack in the fourth floor art studio of Holman Hall on Feb. 14. When she returned to the studio on Feb. 20, the painting was gone.
According to e-mails sent by Richard Mylowe, professional services specialist for the department of Art, six other works went missing from the studio in the same time frame.
A Feb. 15 e-mail sent to the “Hotline” list server, an e-mail alert system that includes students and faculty of the Art and Interactive Multimedia departments, read: “Someone has taken four 16×20 mounted photographic prints from the display case on the fourth floor of Holman Hall. These photographs represent some of the best work of the art photography class. I assume it was an admirer but would still like to have the student work returned. I’m convinced that the students would like that too.”
The black-and-white mounted prints belonged to students of Ken Kaplowitz, professor of art, who described the works as “gifts to the department from the students.”
“I have decided not to put anymore of my students’ works on display until this matter is resolved,” Kaplowitz said.
A Feb. 20 “Hotline” mentioned the disappearance of two works: a painting of a flower by Sophia Liu, sophomore art education major, and a “nearly finished” painting belonging to Lauren Cannon, junior fine arts major. Rounds described Cannon’s work as a portrait of a young girl wearing a “bone mask.”
In a strange turn of events, Cannon’s missing work was returned to Holman Hall on the same day Rounds’ was taken. According to Mylowe, a student noticed the painting in the fourth floor stairwell near the painting studio, and informed the department of Art office. Cannon claimed it later that day.
“You don’t expect to get things like that back,” Cannon said.
Cannon added that when she picked up her painting at 2 p.m. on Feb. 24, Rounds’ portrait was still hanging in the hallway outside the studio. The portrait disappeared at 4 p.m.
Upon the return of her painting, she noticed some writing on the back of the canvas that had been scratched out with a Sharpie marker. She also discovered paint residue, which could have been a result of improper storage.
Cannon said she did not file a police report because she doubted there was any chance the painting would be recovered.
“We all just figured (the painting) had been stolen to be sold,” Cannon said. “There is no security in that building, so we thought there was no chance of getting it back.”
Officials from the department of Art were unsure if Campus Police had been notified of any missing works besides Rounds’ painting.
When asked why he hadn’t reported any of the works stolen outside of the “Hotline” server, Mylowe said he wasn’t aware that he should.
“I had no idea I was supposed to,” he said.
However, Kaplowitz and Elizabeth Mackey, chair of the department of Art, said that Mylowe was not only supposed to notify the police department, but had done so after the paintings were reported stolen to the department of Art.
Campus Police reports confirmed the theft of Rounds’ painting on March 24 but no reports of stolen artwork or photographs were filed during the month of February.
“That doesn’t mean stuff hasn’t been taken out of there,” Administrative Sgt. Marcie Montalvo said. “We just weren’t told about it.”
Mylowe said he was never formally instructed to call the police.
Mackey and Kaplowitz are currently looking into theft reports.
Mackey attributed the confusion to a lack of procedure. According to her, this is the first time Holman Hall has experienced thefts.
“We’ve never lost things like this before. It’s the first time we’ve ever confronted anything like this,” Mackey said. “We didn’t have a procedure because we didn’t need it.”
Montalvo said the students or the professor should have reported stolen property to Campus Police.
“We can’t force anyone to come forward and report something stolen,” Montalvo said. “But the department should be telling them to file a report with Campus Police.”
Montalvo said the matter is still under investigation, and that Campus Police will concentrate more heavily on the area surrounding Holman Hall.
Aside from the return of Cannon’s painting, there have been no developments in regard to the other seven missing works, leaving students like Rounds to wonder if or when their artwork will find its way back to Holman.
“That was my breakthrough piece,” she said. “We always have to paint to our professor’s instructions. This time, I finally did something for myself.”