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Rabbit sculpture displayed at Kendrick Park in Amherst vanishes

This rabbit sculpture, bolted to a rock at Kendrick Park in Amherst as part of a play structure, vanished last week and is presumed stolen.
COURTESY LEE HUTT

This rabbit sculpture, bolted to a rock at Kendrick Park in Amherst as part of a play structure, vanished last week and is presumed stolen. COURTESY LEE HUTT Purchase photo reprints »

“August Rabbit,” a light blue-colored piece created by Lee Hutt of Holyoke, sat atop a large rock, planned as the first installation of a natural children’s playground at the downtown green.

Despite the 20-pound concrete resin sculpture being attached to the stone with stainless steel rods and epoxy, the work of art is now missing and presumed stolen.

“It disappeared on Monday, from what I can tell,” said Terry Rooney, chairwoman of the town’s Public Arts Commission, which is coordinating the Amherst Biennial.

Hutt, who has crafted similar rabbit sculptures that are displayed at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, expressed dismay.

“I am upset at the loss of the rabbit and also the loss of hope I had that a work of public art in a public area would be respected,” Hutt said.

Such a theft, Hutt said, has affected her sense of trust.

“I felt that it was a gift to the town of Amherst. As such, it’s an issue for the community as a whole,” Hutt said.

The piece is valued at $1,500, but Rooney said of greater concern to her is the fact that the public can’t view it now.

“The biggest loss is the loss to the community and the community not being able to enjoy the sculpture,” Rooney said.

The sculpture played off the fact that Howard R. Garis, who wrote the children’s books Uncle Wiggily, once lived in Amherst.

Hutt said the piece was created for the rock it sat on and was painted for the space. “This was done absolutely specifically for Kendrick Park,” Hutt said.

Hutt and Rooney said the theft could jeopardize plans for the play area.

“If they keep disappearing, that’s not going to happen,” Rooney said.

Rooney is hoping to convince anyone who knows of its whereabouts to see that the rabbit is returned intact.

“We’re trying to make it known to whoever took it that the community loves this piece,” Rooney said.

Rooney said art has been stolen or disappeared in the past, noting that the Robert Frost silhouette at the Gates lot on Main Street, part of a conversation with an Emily Dickinson silhouette, has been stolen, but always returned.

Hutt is confident the sculpture will be returned.

“A lot of vandalism goes on, but I think people do respect art objects, religious buildings and important sites,” Hutt said.

If the rabbit is returned, Hutt will again work with the town’s Department of Public Works to put it back on its perch.

Rooney said anyone with information can contact her at 253-2708 or terryrooneyart@gmail.com

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