Stolen art found in park bushes

The artwork reported stolen from the Mercer Island Sculpture Park on Jan. 17 was found in some park bushes on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.

According to Mercer Island Recreation Superintendent Diane Mortenson, a man discovered the first pieces of artwork, three carvings titled “Island Poles,” while walking his dog through the park on Feb. 1.

“He saw the poles leaning up against the freeway embankment. He noticed that they were clearly out of place and called the police,” Mortenson said, adding that she was thrilled by the news. “Hearing that just made my day. Of course, people are a little confused [as] to how the poles got there.”

The remaining three sculptures were found on Feb. 2. Again, a stroller in the park noticed the abandoned artwork and called the city.

The six sculptures, crafted by artists Steven Jensen and Larry McLaughlin, were reported stolen late last month. A seventh sculpture was desecrated.

Mortenson said the sculptures were not badly damaged except at their bases, where they had been ripped from their foundations.

The art is currently being held at the Mercer Island Parks Department. Mortenson said that she and her colleagues were planning to meet with the artists later this week and discuss what to do with the rescued art.

“The artists will come out to look and see if we can salvage the [sculptures] and hopefully get them re-installed,” she said.

Jensen, although relieved to hear that his stolen artwork was discovered, is still deeply upset by the incident.

“It’s just such a shame that vandalism occurs in public art,” he said.

According to Mortenson, city employees searched the park after the artwork was reported stolen on Jan. 17 and found nothing. Mercer Island police have no leads into the case.

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