Section of Wilton artist’s sculpture stolen
By ANDREW J. BERNSTEIN, The Saratogian
KINGSTON — A portion of a sculpture depicting the Halfmoon, the first European ship to explore the Hudson River, was stolen last week from a display in Kingston.
The ship, part of a larger work by Wilton-based artist miChelle Vara, was part of a show orchestrated by the Kingston Arts Center.
The work was created in relation to the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river and was part of an outdoor exhibit called the Kingston Sculpture Biennial. This year’s theme celebrated the Hudson River, with a focus on recycled materials.
“I think it’s sad because the viewer now is not going to get the true picture of the culture,” Vara said. “The ship is a mainstay of Henry Hudson.”
The sculpture is made of recycled metal and depicts Henry Hudson standing over a map. His ship, the Halfmoon sculpture, rested on the map. The ship was about 1 foot long, and 1 foot tall.
“It’s ironic how Henry Hudson has once again lost his ship, but not so funny to the artist,” Vara said.
Vara said the ship was bolted and welded to the map.
“Somebody had to have tools or some kind of technology and would have had to have looked at it pretty closely,” she said. The rest of the sculpture was not damaged when the ship was removed.
Exhibit curator Meagan Gallagher said she is optimistic the ship will be found.
“We’re doing our best to locate the ship, but this is an unfortunate risk when you’re doing public art,” she said.
Although curators check the exhibit twice a day, no one noticed the theft, which is estimated to have occurred Friday or Saturday.
“I find it very alarming that someone would take sculpture. Basically, you’re not only taking from the social setting of art, but you’re taking from the entire community’s ability to learn through art, and changing the comfort zone of people who would like to participate,” Vara said.
Vara said police are investigating and hope raising awareness of the theft will lead to information on the sculpture’s whereabouts. She is offering a reward for the sculpture’s return or information that could lead to its return.
While Vara said she is hopeful for the sculpture’s return, she plans to create a new sculpture, to replace the Halfmoon, but will have to wait until she finds appropriate materials.
Henry Hudson explored the river in 1609, and the state is celebrating the exploration this year with events in communities along the river. The exhibit runs through October in three parks in Kingston, including Town Rotary Park, where Vara’s sculpture was located.