Art thief strikes Yukon Artists at Work

Nearly $1,650 of artwork was stolen from the Yukon Artists at Work gallery at 120 Industrial Rd. on Wednesday. Three paintings hanging along the stairwell were stolen.

Nearly $1,650 of artwork was stolen from the Yukon Artists at Work gallery at 120 Industrial Rd. on Wednesday.

Three paintings hanging along the stairwell were stolen. Heidi Hehn’s Miles Canyon South, Nicole Bauberger’s Snowfall to Snowfall and The Yellow-Eyed Cat of Farrera by Dawson artist Mary Dolman were all taken.

“You feel pretty weak in a situation like this,” Hehn said Thursday afternoon. “You’ve got absolutely no recourse when something like this happens.”

She and other artists will have to bear the costs of the thefts themselves.

Yukon Artists at Work is a co-operative and cannot afford insurance for the pieces, said board member Sally Sheppard. This isn’t the first time a piece has been stolen from the gallery. In December, another painting hanging along the stairwell was taken. This piece, by Jackie Dowell-Irvine, has not been found, said Sheppard.

There are plans to increase security at the gallery, she said.

But what the artists have lost is irreplaceable.

“It makes me question if I should hang my work in galleries at all,” said Dolman. She doesn’t blame Yukon Artists at Work. But a couple months ago, she also had a painting stolen from Arts Underground on Main Street, she said. That means she’s lost around $600 this year, she said.

Paintings haven’t been the only pieces of artwork stolen in Whitehorse. In January, two rings were stolen from Arts Underground. That investigation is still ongoing, said Const. Christine Grant with the Whitehorse RCMP.

But that event is not related to this week’s thefts. The suspect in the January incident is in custody right now, on charges for an unrelated incident, she said.

“I’m quite discouraged and frustrated that these people haven’t been caught yet,” said Dolman.

“It’s a very personal thing. I really put my heart and soul into it,” she said. She had created the stolen painting a few years ago on a retreat in Spain. “Once it’s sold, it’s out of my hands, but I want to have it belong to someone who respects it. It really feels like a personal violation.”

Hehn agreed.

“It’s a rotten thing to do to somebody when you put that much effort into it, and it’s your own thing, and it’s original to you.”

Not only was her stolen piece an original, but it was also one of the only ones she’s done – or plans to do – of Miles Canyon.

“For me, Miles Canyon has always been a challenge. But every so often, I go back at it,” she said. She painted the missing painting last summer.

She doubts she’ll ever get it back, she said. She’s had paintings stolen before – once in Whitehorse and another time in Skagway, Alaska – and has never seen them again.

In Whitehorse, a tourist bought the stolen painting, she said.

“It’s quick money,” she said.

“Whitehorse is not as nice a place as it was,” said Hehn.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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