Seven colored-glass pieces by local artist Vernon Brejcha valued together at more than $10,000 were stolen from a display in the city hall lobby in Kansas City, Kan., officials said.
The theft occurred one flight above police headquarters, and marks the third theft of Brejcha's work from displays in the Kansas City metropolitan area in the past dozen years.
Kaw Valley Arts and Humanities Inc., which was sponsoring the art showing, said Tuesday that the blown glass artwork had been on display for about a month but disappeared recently, probably sometime during the weekend.
Police said the thief or thieves removed Plexiglas covers from stands holding the artwork.
Brejcha said this morning that he believed the same person responsible for the theft was behind two previous thefts of his work from exhibitions in the last dozen or so years. Each time, his work was stolen, but pieces from other artists went untouched.
"IT IS really a strange feeling to realize that your work has become an investment of sorts," he said. "One theory I have is that somebody really does like my work and doesn't want to pay for it."
The stolen items included a large vase about 18 inches tall, which was valued at $1,000. Also taken were three dippers long, delicate strands of glass shaped like water ladles valued at $2,400 each, two figurines valued at $850 each and a paperweight valued at $750.
Brejcha is an associate professor of design at Kansas University. One of his dippers is on display in the Smithsonian Institution in the American culture wing.
Two of the stolen dippers "Indian Summer" and "December Chill" were among his best work, he said.
"Sometimes when you make a piece, it is just there," he said. "Almost everything I do deals with feelings and past emotions, so when it all comes out how I see it in my mind, that is it. It has that spark."
DEALING with the third loss of his work is frustrating, he said.
"I had gone through all the symptoms. The first one was anger, and then you have to accept this," he said. "I have the gut feeling that it was the same person."
The works were insured, although it may take some time to convince the insurance company of their value, Brejcha said.
"It usually takes a couple letters from a couple big dealers to say, `Yes, we have sold his work at that price before,' and from museums saying they have insured my pieces for that value," he said.