Thieves Steal Public Artwork Off Dallas Sidewalk

Michael Christopher Matson's statues before the theft. Photo: Sterling Steves, via the Dallas News.
Michael Christopher Matson's statues before the theft. Photo: Sterling Steves, via the Dallas News.

A trio of large public sculptures valued at $16,000 has been stolen off a Dallas sidewalk, reports the Dallas News.

The three sculptures, measuring seven, eight, and nine feet tall, are by Michael Christopher Matson. Until some time in March, they were installed outside a local bar as part of Art on Henderson, a collaboration between Dallas businesses that showcases work by Texas artists. No other works have been targeted, including a fourth piece by Matson installed nearby.

“It has been so hard,” Matson told the Dallas News. “I was shocked that they were all gone. It was and is surreal.” City police have reviewed surveillance footage and searched scrap metal yards, but the artwork has yet to be recovered.

According to Matson, the robbery is, for now, an isolated incident. “It’s always been safe in the past,” he claims. “There are many pieces that are not bolted down, and no one has ever lost a piece—until now; until me.”

Despite the pain of losing his work, Matson still believes in public art, saying “it’s important to take art out of the galleries and display it outdoors, for the entire public to see. It’s for everybody. But now, mine is gone.”

While Art on Henderson is a privately funded public art initiative, the theft does not bode well for the city’s already financially challenged public art program. As artnet News reported in March, Dallas has already eliminated the program’s maintenance budget, so it would seem unlikely that anything can be done to better safeguard existing works, nor to invest in improved security for future commissions.

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