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$2,000 painting stolen from Winona bar

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$2,000 painting stolen from Winona bar

By Chris Hubbuch Lee Newspapers | Posted: Saturday, April 17, 2010 12:00 am | (2) Comments

Ed Hoffman, owner of Ed’s (no name) Bar, pours a pint in his bar. Ed’s (no name) Bar recently had a painting from local artist Mary Singer stolen from the bar’s gallery. Rory O’Driscoll/Winona Daily News

It wasn’t the most valuable painting in Winona, but its theft – in what may be the city’s most brazen art heist – hit a nerve.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, someone apparently walked out of Ed’s (no name) Bar with an 18-by-24-inch oil on canvas by Mary Singer. The 62-year-old Winona artist had hung a dozen of her paintings in the lounge of the Third Street pub just days before.

The purloined painting, “Sunset on West Lake Winona,” was her favorite, made from a photo she took last summer.

“They might as well have taken a piece of me,” Singer said. “I don’t even care about the money.”

Singer, who has lost paintings before but not in the past 20 years, pointed out the thief will have a difficult time finding a local buyer for the painting, priced at $2,000.

Police Chief Paul Bostrack couldn’t remember another art theft in his 19 years on the force. The felony theft case has been assigned to an investigator, he said, and Crime Stoppers will offer a reward for tips.

Proprietor Ed Hoffman noticed the painting was gone when he opened Sunday.

He was behind the bar Saturday night and noticed people looking at it on the wall a little past midnight. There were no signs of break-in, and the lounge door was locked, indicating the thief likely carried the painting out the front door.

Hoffman said he’s more discouraged and angry than any time in the three years he’s run the pub, which has no televisions and showcases local art and music. Word of the theft spread this week on the social networking site Facebook after he posted a note that drew dozens of outraged comments.

“We have a pretty tight-knit group of people,” Hoffman said. “Our customers kind of police themselves. Most of them know each other.”

Some on Facebook suggested offering amnesty if the thief will return the art.

“I’d like to see some justice served,” Hoffman said. “But I’d also just like to get the painting back.”

Andrew Maus is executive director of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which boasts works by impressionist painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro – and this week unveiled one by Vincent Van Gogh. He declined to talk about the museum’s security systems and procedures, except to say they are “very sophisticated.”

He did talk about the inherent tension of a museum’s mission: preserving art while making it accessible.

“Our reasons for existing are somewhat in conflict,” he said. “It’s a balancing kind of thing.”

Maus, himself an artist, was sympathetic to Singer’s loss.

“The museum person in me wants to say that person was so in love with the painting, but the person who did it was probably malicious,” he said.

Hoffman said the theft weighs on him but he intends to keep showing art. Earlier this week, he went shopping for a security camera.

Posted in Local on Saturday, April 17, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 11:08 pm. | Tags:

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