Vandals destroy, steal downtown statue

Public art project dismantled

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Rick Davis' sculpture titled "Great Blue Heron" was cut from its display pedestal located at Third Street and Lakeside Avenue and reported stolen Friday.

COEUR d'ALENE - It's not like it just up and flew away.

The statue bird - the centerpiece to the $3,000 public art piece "The Great Blue Heron" - vanished late Thursday night or early Friday morning, the result of vandalism and theft rolled into one, officials believe.

What remains of the display, on the northeast corner of Third Street and Lakeside Avenue in front of the Olympia Greek restaurant, is the 3.5-by-3-feet basalt base and the bird's feet upon which its body once stood.

"It's just a shame," said Steve Anthony, city recreation director and liaison to the arts commission. "I'm more disappointed than anything else."

The statue was one of 15 pieces the city installed as part of its inaugural Art Currents project. The project puts pieces on public display while on sale. Should they sell, the city recoups some of the costs.

Olympia owner Eva Itskos reported it was gone Friday morning, after she came to work at 7. It was there Thursday night, just as it had since going up this summer.

"It was something we adored," she said. "It's sad someone can feel so comfortable to come up and take something that doesn't belong to them.

The police report wasn't available Friday.

Dani Libby, assistant manger at Washington Trust Bank on Lakeside Avenue and across from the restaurant, said the bank's surveillance cameras don't cover the area where the statue was, but they do reach close to it on Third Street.

That could catch a glimpse if the thief or thieves left with it on foot toward the camera's area. The bank would wait for police to request the footage, she said.

Joseph Sharnetsky, the arts commission member who pitched the Art Currents program, said police are checking into the bank's cameras and talking to neighbors who live above the restaurant.

It looks like the thieves could have used proper cutting tools by the clean break in the feet.

But William Borden and Ken Schneberger, who work for C4 Concrete and have experience cutting rebar, said it was likely broken off, and done so by more than one person.

The breaks are a little too jagged to be clean cuts, Schneberger said Friday while eating lunch at the restaurant and inspecting the damage.

The statue was made of scrap metal, steel and rebar. The bird probably weighed around 40 pounds.

"That's hard to do," he said of breaking it off manually. "I don't think one person could do it alone."

The city insures each piece up to $10,000.

The artist, Rick Davis of Spokane, couldn't be reached Friday afternoon. Davis is also the artist who created the statue Genesha, standing on Sherman Avenue.

Sharnetsky said Davis will have the opportunity to replace the piece with something else if it's not recovered.

None of the pieces have sold yet.

Itskos said she plans to put cameras in front of her restaurant. Vandalism, other than random pranks on the establishment's flower pots and newspaper stands, hasn't been a problem before.

The crane statue before the vandals hit.

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