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Vandals damage portion of new sculpture in downtown

by: Vern Uyetake, Jerry Knippel, director of special projects for the city of Lake Oswego, demonstrates how a portion of the sculpture “Connections” had been broken off the piece last week. A second, similar attachment was also broken and is missing from the piece.

and ANDREW MINER

Lake Oswego officials are offering a $250 reward in a case of vandalized art in the city's Gallery Without Walls, a public art program spanning 11 square miles.

The Lake Oswego Foundation for the Arts installed a new sculpture at the corner of Fifth Street and A Avenue Aug. 21. By the morning of Aug. 23, vandals had pulled off a piece of the sculpture and damaged a second portion. Police are investigating the case and say they have no suspects.

The vandalized sculpture,

'Connections,' by Shirley Erickson, is eight feet tall and made of steel with some fused glass components. The glass was not damaged, but steel pieces were torn from the sculpture, valued at $5,500. It is no longer on display.

The sculpture was part of the fifth annual installation of art in the Gallery Without Walls, which places public art throughout the city of Lake Oswego. The official unveiling for this year's pieces is set for Sept. 20. Art in the program is installed for two-year periods, and rotations bring fresh exhibits into the gallery annually.

'The goal was to have art everywhere you'd least expect it, and to make sure all citizens were exposed to art,' said Elaine Harper executive director of the Lake Oswego Foundation for the Arts, which operates the program. 'As the saying goes, art softens the edges of life.'

Harper said the foundation plans to replace the damaged sculpture with a piece by Steve Reinmus. She said 'Connections' was too damaged to leave in place and has been removed. Erickson, who lives in Bellingham, Wash., plans to travel to Lake Oswego to assess whether her work can be repaired.

Harper said damage to sculptures has occurred in the last five years in the Gallery Without Walls but vandalism was uncommon.

'I don't think any have been as maliciously attacked. Others were more accidental,' she said.

She said the foundation does work with artists to minimize vulnerabilities in their work. She said most understand the risks in displaying art in public.

The city of Lake Oswego is encouraging citizens to call 9-1-1 if they see someone vandalizing or attempting to steal art on display. If you have information about this case, please contact authorities at 503-635-0238.