$20k in sculptures stolen from Little Rock park

Picture by Sculpture at the River Market

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Three years ago, cityleaders broke ground on a new sculpture garden in the River Market district. Itis suppose to be a permanent home for works of art, but a groundskeeper noticedseveral sculptures were missing, forced off their platform.

The sculptures total valueis about $20,000 dollars. The works of art could be in someone's home right nowor sold to a scrap yard.

The Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden islocated on the north side of the Peabody Hotel. A serene spot overlooking theArkansas River where you can forget the hustle and bustle of downtown that is justyards away.

On Robert Johnson's firststroll down the walkways, he noticed one bronze sculpture missing, two othersvandalized. "It's really sad. We see people doing great things for thecommunity like these sculptures here, but people want to come and ruinopportunities for others to come and enjoy downtown."

The garden is madepossible through support of the Vogel Schwartz Foundation, volunteers, donorsand maintained by Little Rock Parks and Recreation.

Dr. Dean Kumpuris says, "EverySaturday I'm out there weeding, planting and cleaning."

The Sculpture Garden is thevision of City Director Dean Kumpuris. It is a memorial for his daughter, asanctuary for visitors. Instead of anger, he is looking on the bright side. "Itwill hopefully let people get to know what a great asset we have. It isterrible that people do things that are destructive and hurts something thatmakes our city better. That's the only way you can look at it."

In all, three pieces ofart were damaged. Dr. Kumpuris concludes, "Public art is an important thing forthis city. When you put fine pieces of art outside, you stand the chance of thesesorts of things occurring."

Little Rock Police suspectthe thieves will try and sell the bronze sculptures to a scrap yard. The groundskeeper discovered the sculpture damage on Friday. Investigators don't have a suspect at this time. The sculptures were insuredand the city plans to put in more cameras to monitor the area, to make it saferfor everyone.

If you have any information you are asked to call Little Rock Police.

The three pieces are described as followed:

"Conversation with Myself," (pictured) is a two-part piece. The smaller portion is a two-feet tall long-legged man looking up. It was forcefully removed by apparently working it back and forth until the metal broke at the ankle.

"Birds of Happiness," is a three feet tall piece that depicts two storks in flight. It was likely removed by a grinder and the base that was still in place.

"Uptown Saturday Night," is foot tall woman dancer. It was removed by grinding the mounting bolts from the bottom of the sculpture, however, the artwork remained intact.