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Shoplifters take Con Mine painting from artist's studio
Jessica McVicker said she had a 'bad feeling' when two men walked into gallery

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A local artist whose work was stolen right off of her studio wall in early December said the people responsible for the theft took more than just a painting.

NNSL photo/graphic

Artist Jessica McVicker is pictured in her studio at the YK Centre Mall on Friday, where she said two men stole a piece of her art off the wall in early December. - Kirsten Fenn/NNSL photo

"It's a piece of myself. My art is me," said Jessica McVicker, a well-known acrylic painter who just recently relocated her studio to the YK Centre Mall.

"They're not just stealing something that's a generic object ... it's stealing something that I spent a lot of time, even years, to come to the point to make. So it's something that's incredibly special to me."

McVicker said she had been working in her studio on a commissioned painting of Pilot's Monument one afternoon around Dec. 8 when two men appeared at her studio door.

One of the men entered the studio while the other lingered by the doorway, she said, adding it struck her as "peculiar."

"The fellow (in the studio) was talking to me very intently," she said.

"I had a bad feeling right from the get-go and I didn't really know why."

When the pair left and McVicker looked around her studio, she noticed something was different about the wall beside her doorway where she had hung several small paintings.

"'Lo and behold, the Con Mine headframe was gone," McVicker said.

"They're a very popular type of piece."

The painting was mainly purple and depicted the headframe from the back of the Con mine during winter.

It was painted on a six-inch by six-inch canvas using acrylics.

Because those types of pieces are so small, McVicker said she never replicates them, and she didn't take a photo of it. They're one of a kind.

She said she didn't inform RCMP about the incident as she didn't have any photo proof, so she felt informing security at the mall was the right thing to do.

"I informed security and they actually got footage," she said of the theft.

Louis Mandeville, a security guard at the mall, said the two men were identified using the building's security cameras and have since been banned from the mall in the interest of public safety.

"This isn't the first time," Mandeville said about the two men, explaining they've been involved in similar incidents before.

"If all they're doing is coming in here and waiting for any opportunity for theft, what's the point of being here?" he said.

"I understand the need to come in and warm up ... but if you're here and you see that opportunity and you go and steal ... when is enough enough, you know?"

McVicker said her artwork was never returned. She said she assumes it has been re-sold.

"I'm an artist. I'm not rich," she laughed. "And it's not as though I didn't even give them the time of day. I tried to be polite to them."

Still, she said she plans to keep her doors open and welcome visitors.

"I trust people quite a bit," she said.

"For me, it's important to trust people until they can prove they're untrustworthy."

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