5 Questions with an Artist and victim of art theft.

Just before Christmas local gallery owner, Lisa Barrios let me know that a piece had been stolen from her gallery in the heart of Old Town Monrovia (yes, folks the city with “no crime” had someone in doing their Christmas shoplifting).  She was heart broken, beside herself fearing the reaction of the artist, Paul K. Merwin,  who had created the piece.  

Lisa said she was completely gobsmacked by his response.  Not only did the artist handle it well, but took it in stride.  His comment “I guess I should be flattered that someone thought enough of my art to go to jail for it”.    

“Petra” is the name of the piece and is pictured here.  It is a mixed media sculpture of aluminum and bone.  It has a retail value of $2,400.   As you might guess, Monrovia police are involved as both the gallery owner and the artist would like to have it back. 

It took a bit of emails and the Holidays for me to get all the information I needed to do this post.  I have to admit I admire the graciousness Paul exhibited in his initial reaction, and for indulging me with a 5 questions regarding his art and the theft.  To get the full 5 questions and Paul’s responses you need to make the jump.

1) First thought when you learned of the theft of Petra?

When I first heard that “Ptera” was stolen I wasn’t as upset as everyone thought I would be. I actually took it as a great compliment that someone would be willing to risk going to jail for a piece of my art. I hope that it was stolen with the intent of displaying and enjoying it for themselves rather than to try and make a buck. I’ve been keeping my eyes open online for it.

2) As a metal sculpture what is your favorite media?

As a metal sculptor I find aluminum to be my favorite media. I have been working at Danco Metal Surfacing in Arcadia for the past 21 years and have learned a lot about aluminum. There are an unlimited number of finishes, textures and colors that can be achieved with aluminum and it’s a malleable easily manipulated metal. None of my work is cast, it is all hand worked.

3) As an artist we get attached to various pieces or projects – your personal favorite?

I have to admit that “Ptera” was one of my most favorite sculptures to date. It was the first in a series I am working on combining bone and metal. I have a fascination with skulls and have been collecting them for years. Until recently I hadn’t found a way to display them to my liking. Now I have work lined up for years. The next installment is a horse which I think will be too large and obvious to steal, but we’ll see.

4) Art Gallery or Art Festival – your favorite way to show your work and why?

My favorite way of showing my work is the art festival setting. As much as I am an introvert I am an extreme narcissist and love talking to people about my art. I have my opinion of what I do and it always feels good to hear someone make positive comments. Also, I feel creatively energized being around other like minded people and artists. I usually work a lot harder on my art directly following a show because I’m so full of inspiration and a desire to get the next piece ready to show.

5)If anyone knows anything who at MPD should they contact?

If anyone has any information regarding this theft they can contact officer Lieutenant Wagnon at Monrovia PD phone # (626)256-8040 CASE # 08-024648.

The picture is provided by Paul K. Merwin and used with his permission.  I have to thank Paul once again for the information he provied and indulging me in 5 questions.

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