The great cat (statue) robbery
Bastet now wears scarf after theft of pearl necklace
Everyone has heard of cat burglars.
But Lake Oswego was recently victimized by a cat statue burglar (0K, really a robber) when a pearl necklace was pilfered in broad daylight from Bastet - statue of the Egyptian cat goddess and a premier attraction of the city's famed Gallery Without Walls.
No one was affected by this loss more than Carol Winston, owner of Accessories From The Heart. Bastet sits right outside of her business, and it was Winston's idea to twirl a string of pearls around Bastet's neck.
'It wasn't that the necklace was so valuable,' Winston said. 'It was only worth $40. It was just disheartening because people really liked it. We would dress the cat every morning and take it off at night.
'It was so much fun to watch children go around it and get their photos taken. The cat was becoming very beloved. It catches people's attention in a good way. People have asked me, 'Aren't you with the store where the cat wears the pearls?''
There was a previous attempt to steal the necklace, but Winston saw it and caught the thief red-handed, showing that she could have been a good cop if she hadn't opted for a business career.
'I asked him, 'What are you doing?' as he was getting into his car. He asked me, 'Are these your pearls?' I told him, 'Yes, they are!''
The next time, though, the thief was so slick that nobody saw anything. One minute Bastet was wearing the pearls, the next minute she wasn't.
'We felt like Bastet was protecting our store,' Winston said. 'But she couldn't protect the pearls.'
This wasn't exactly the kind of interaction that Winston, a member of the Lake Oswego Council of the Arts, was hoping for with the city's Gallery Without Walls. But aside from this one incident, public reaction to the outdoor gallery has been outstanding.
Cheryl Brock, executive director of the LO arts council, said, 'We have such a variety of realistic and abstract statues, and people give such a wide variety of reactions.'
Most notable is that of children, who react with joy and delight and usually want to play with the statues and have their photos taken with them.
'Lake Oswego is very unique in that kids grow up with art all around them,' Brock said.
Bastet is the creation of West Linn sculptor Robert Foster, who gave Winston his blessing when she first wanted to put a necklace on the big beautiful bronze cat.
'He was excited and enthusiastic about it,' Winston said.
But not to fear, the fun will continue. Winston's staff now ties a lovely rainbow-colored scarf around Bastet's neck every morning, and the happy reactions from passers-by keep right on happening. Bastet looks as queenly as ever.
'The Gallery Without Walls is an important program that adds so much to the livability of our town,' Winston said.
The Gallery Without Walls now looks even better. On Aug. 26, 15 new statues were unveiled, in a ceremony in downtown Lake Oswego.