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Oh, deer: Auburn's 'beloved' bronze statue stolen
From its perch on a metal log at Centennial Park across from Mountain View Cemetery, the bronze deer had kept watch over the valley floor since the early 1990s.
But on early Tuesday morning, Aug. 21, a thief, or thieves unknown sawed through the four legs and stole the deer, leaving behind only the four hoofs that had attached the artwork to its base.
Cemetery staff, realizing later that morning that the piece, called "The Long Look" was missing, called Maija McKnight, arts coordinator for the City of Auburn. She and other City staff have been working with police ever since to help the investigation.
"We're very saddened," McKnight said. "I think that that sculpture in particular is very beloved. When I was filing the police report, even the officer whom I was talking to said, 'Oh no, not the deer.'
Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis called the act "despicable."
The Auburn Arts Commission commissioned the work in 1992 from Brad Rude, an artist then affiliated with the Walla Walla Foundry.
Before Aug. 21 the sculpture had survived several vandalism and theft attempts, the most recent of them in 2005. Park visitors called police on that occasion after they observed that somebody had sawn through two of the legs.
The City responded by welding the legs back on and putting "extra heft" in them, McKnight said. Staff also cut back bushes that had partially blocked the park from the road.
Theft, McKnight said, is an ever-present concern for of the City's public art pieces.
"The art is in the public sphere, and part of the joy is that it's out there where anyone can access it. At the same time, the danger is that we can't protect it, we can't put it under lock and key. Our maintenance program checks in on them regularly to make sure everything is OK.
"...I am guessing that to saw through the bronze took a really long time," McKnight said.
Anyone with information about this crime should call the Auburn Police Department at 253-931-3080.