|Pink and White Eyed Creatures - 2nd Stolen Painting
Painter Suzanne Stryker on
James Moore will discuss art and
loss with local painter Suzanne
Stryker, who was the target of art
thieves twice right here in Fairfield.
Her story was featured in the Des
Moines Register and picked up by
the Associated Press.
Painter Suzanne Stryker on
Tanner & Moore
She shares her thoughts and
reflections on Tanner & Moore
Art Theft 101
We recently received correspondence from artist Suzanne Stryker, and what she had to say shocked us.
“I need your help in catching the thief of my artwork,” she pleads.
It seems that Ms. Stryker, whose paintings were on exhibit at Entrée Café Gallery in Fairfield, has been struck by
lightning twice — a thief has stolen two of her ‘babies,’ as she refers to them.
“Normally, paintings aren’t stolen until the artist is dead and the painting is worth a few million!” she says. “The
paintings were uninsured. This was an unusual crime the first time it happened, and certainly the second time. I
feel slapped, yet deeply complimented, twice!”
The first painting is a colorful abstract acrylic painting about 14 x 16 inches, valued at $500. The second is a
watercolor of a peach and red peony, measuring 10 x 12 inches, valued at $200. Images of the paintings can be
seen at her Web site, www.paintyoga.com. Her theory is that the thief isn’t a local. In a town of 10,000, she says
that it would be hard for the thief to display or sell the paintings without them being recognized. She is pleading
for the thief to return the paintings.
“I am not trying to trick the thief,” she says. “I want him/her to know that I will drop the charges if he/she returns
the paintings — just mail the paintings to Entrée Gallery, 203 West Broadway, Fairfield, IA 52556. What she’s
wondering, though, is why did the thief choose one of the paintings over a nearby, more traditional oil painting
that was priced twice as high.“Was this due to personal preference or professional incompetence? Art Theft 101
would tell you to steal the most valuable paintings,” she jokes.
We’re glad to see that Ms. Stryker, besides having a big heart by offering to wait to
file charges, is maintaining her sense of humor throughout the experience.
— Roderick Kabel
On-line Reactions to Des Moines Register Article
I did a google on this artist - she has a website www.paintyoga.com . Must be the
same artist because her website has a page about these stolen paintings. You
should see her other paintings online- some of them are really magnificent! I would
like to have several of them. I would also like to have the abstract one that was
stolen. I wonder if she could do another one like it - her website says she does
commissioned work. I can't decide which ones I like best though.
12/22/2007 4:59:13 PM
I like those paintings. The first one reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe, and
the second one seems like a cross between Picasso's cubism phase and
Jackson Pollack, and a stained glass window. I hope she gets them back.
12/19/2007 11:54:05 AM
I think both pieces are beautiful and it is a shame that someone would have the
nerve to take them.
12/19/2007 8:40:22 AM
Crimes of the Art
by Suzanne B. Stryker
From a global perspective, what are the top four criminal enterprises? You might correctly guess drugs, money
laundering, and weapons, and then get stumped. According to Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, it
is commonly accepted that art theft is third or fourth. They point out that exact figures for art theft worldwide don’t
exist, but the FBI estimates that art theft totals about $6 billion a year. To put that into perspective, the total 2007
FBI budget was approximately $6.04 billion.
There is something glamorous about stealing beauty, so movies and books are written about it. In real life, the
modern museum robbery can remind you of a James Bond movie, like the robbery of the National Gallery in
Stockholm in 2000, where the robbers used diversionary explosions, tire-puncture devices, and a getaway boat.
The largest art heist in the U.S. happened at the Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. In a matter of one hour
and twenty minutes, two unidentified unarmed men wearing police uniforms removed 12 paintings worth $300
million. The museum is still offering a $5 million reward for the uninsured artwork.
Art crime has even touched Fairfield, Iowa. During my last move, a thief stole a large abstract painting yet left
everything else. But this was not a one-night stand, there was follow up. About nine months later a painting was
stolen from one of my art exhibits. Nine months later another painting disappeared from my solo show at
Entrée Café Gallery. (This is no reflection against any gallery; even the finest museums get robbed.) If there is
such a thing as regularity and discipline in their profession, then should we expect the criminals to strike again
in another nine months?
I realize that my three missing paintings are just a footnote compared to three Picasso paintings that were
stolen around the same time as mine. Valued at almost $60 million, only one of Picasso’s paintings has been
recovered. Picasso has had more works of art stolen than any other artist in the world, at least 554! My advice to
art thieves is to help Picasso maintain that status and leave the smaller artists like me alone!
People who aren’t interested in art may not think this story is of personal relevance. But I’d like to say something
to anyone who does manual labor: I work with my hands; I’m a manual laborer too. I just don’t break a sweat.
And my boss, even though she’s myself, is very fussy, demanding, and obnoxious.
Since my stolen paintings are such an unusual and personal theft, it brings up many thoughts and questions:
who would do such a thing, why would they do it, and where are the paintings?
Should I flatter myself that my stolen paintings are hanging in the robbers' living room? Or maybe they gave
them to their mother or their lover? I want to know, do they like the paintings? Do they go with the couch?
Really, where are my paintings? They are orphans in the sense in that they are separated from their parent. This
is different than having a stereo stolen out of your home -- you didn’t create it. To the extent that an artist gives
birth to a painting, the theft of these paintings approaches kidnapping. And the second painting that was stolen
took longer than nine months to create.
I wonder if my paintings are okay. I want to tell the thieves that, like all fine art, paintings should not be put in
direct sunlight or exposed to extreme moisture or temperature changes. God forbid they are hanging in a moldy
bathroom, by the shower, in direct sunlight!
Why did they take and take again -- is business that good? Who wants this kind of art? Perhaps I should open a
gallery there. If the new owners of my paintings like them so much, why don’t they call me directly and cut out the
It might be easier to steal other things. What does that say about this person? He passes by purses and lap top
computers and instead takes artwork. Who would brazenly steal paintings as large as 16 inches by 20 inches
from Entrée Café Gallery, located in the busiest section of the downtown area, right across the street from the
Fairfield Post Office?
Why did the robbers steal those particular paintings from my solo art exhibits? Why didn’t they swipe a nearby
oil painting of the same size that was priced twice as high? Did they breeze by the more expensive paintings
because of personal taste or because of professional incompetence? Did they flunk Art Theft 101? Their fence
should be furious.
What is the profile of an art criminal? Is he like in the movies: a charming and sophisticated playboy who’s
a connoisseur of fine art and fine women and has a burglar’s mask tucked into his tuxedo?
Many people have paid their hard earned money for my artwork, but no one has ever dared to take such a risk
as going to jail for five years and having this go on their record permanently. The bandits could be considered to
be my biggest fan! On the other hand, selling paintings is how I make my living. I feel slapped and deeply
complimented thrice, but not so complimented that I don’t want my paintings back. If anyone has any clues,
please call me at 641-472-7767. I am offering a $200 reward for their safe return.
The media has been helpful in getting the word out. TV and radio stations interviewed me. Numerous papers
and websites covered the story, especially after the Associated Press did a piece. The Des Moines Register
has an article with photographs of two of the stolen paintings on its website. People have added on-line
comments, such as, "I like those paintings. The first one reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe, and the second one
seems like a cross between Picasso's cubism phase and Jackson Pollack, and a stained glass window. I hope
she gets them back.” Other comments, coverage, and color pictures of the stolen goods can be seen at my web
site www.paintyoga.com. There you can also view pictures of paintings that the thieves passed over. I am curious
if you agree with their choices. Feel free to e-mail me from the Contact Us page.
I would like to communicate with the robbers: I want you to know that I will drop the charges if the paintings are
returned. Please let me know if my paintings are okay. By the way, are you really a charming and sophisticated
playboy with an art history degree? Do you own a tuxedo? Also, I want you to know: if you know people that
appreciate my paintings, let’s work together. Let’s go legit; I’ll be generous with commission.
Posted by Wade Dec. 23, 2007
Someone must have liked the
paintings quite a lot - to steal them.
The artist should take it as a
compliment - to steal to keep for
themselves or to sell- either way
the thieves must think the paintings
Artist asks for two stolen paintings to be
Fairfield artist Suzanne Stryker has had two
paintings stolen from Entree Gallery and Cafe this year,
and is trying to get them back without causing
legal problems to the person who took
them. "I would hate to see the thief go to
prison for this because he appreciates my
art enough to take the risk of spending five
years in prison and having this go on his
record permanently," said Stryker.
"This is a compliment in an unusual way,"she continued. "This is
different than a TV being stolen - you don't feel complimented
because you didn't create it. You are just annoyed because it has
value. So do these paintings. And they are my personal creations that
I have labored over; they are like my children." "The paintings," she
continued, "can be anonymously returned to the gallery from which
they were taken, and this way the thief can avoid prosecution."
"Once a report is filed, if the police catch the thief, they take over,
and then there's nothing I can do to prevent the thief from going to
jail," said Stryker.
"I want to give the thief a chance...I am not
required to press charges if I or anyone else
except the police find the thief or if he returns
Accoring to Stryker, the painting taken in March is "a wild acrylic
painting. Abstract geometric designs were boldly outlined in thick
dark green paint and colored inside with bright lemon yellow, sherbet
orange, lime green and thalo blue. Small purple and green creatures
with protruding white and pink eyes added a humorous touch."
The painting valued at $500, is 16 inches by 20 inches, including the
custom-made frame. The second painting taken from the gallery last
week, is a watercolor of a large peony in mostly peach and red shades.
It is 12 by 14 inches, including a white mat and silver frame. It is
valued at $200.
The paintings can be viewed on Stryker's Web site at
|Suzanne B. Stryker
|Crimes of My Art 1