FAIRHOPE – Judging by its wide grin framed by what looks like miles of wire, “Pelican ‘Bill’ with a Grill,” must surely be a teenager. But Bill, along with his shiny braces, is missing — stolen from his summer perch at the corner of …
FAIRHOPE – Judging by its wide grin framed by what looks like miles of wire, “Pelican ‘Bill’ with a Grill,” must surely be a teenager. But Bill, along with his shiny braces, is missing — stolen from his summer perch at the corner of Church Street and De La Mare Avenue late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
The fiberglass fowl had been displayed in front of the Church Street Inn, atop a mound surrounded by flowers. Now only a poster hangs there, asking for information that might bring about its return.
The theft was reported to Fairhope police, and organizers of the Art Takes Flight fund-raiser, of which the pelican was part, are offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the bird’s disappearance.
“I think it alludes to the fact it was probably youngsters (who took the outdoor sculpture), but we don’t know,” said Dean Mosher, co-chairman of the Art Takes Flight committee. “The manner in which it was taken, it doesn’t look like it was a planned theft.”
The work of artist Kathleen Taupeka, Bill was one of more than 70 pelicans created to raise money for more public art in Fairhope.
Each pelican was sponsored by an individual, group or business for $1,000, which paid for casting, materials and time spent by the artist. The group will make its money when the pelicans are each sold to the highest bidder Sept. 29 at the Eastern Shore Art Center.
Bill was sponsored by Dr. Glenn Glass, an Eastern Shore orthodontist. Taupeka said, “I called Dr. Glass and he said, ‘this shows how cool braces are.’ Hopefully it will show up. I would hope they would return it.”
Mosher pointed out, “This isn’t like stealing a street sign. This is an outrage. This is public artwork. Our artists worked very hard to create these beautiful pieces. The project has lost income because the sponsorship is not the profit. The auction is the profit. We’re going to use the proceeds to get more public art.”
Each of the pelicans, which are perched primarily in downtown Fairhope, is mounted on a metal pipe attached to a treated post reminiscent of those used for piers.
They are secured using set screws and, Mosher said, “You really have to go to great lengths to steal it. We hadn’t had any problems before now. It’s a crime, and it’s not a minor infraction either.”
Taupeka said she would be happy if the thief would simply return the sculpture, even if it means taking it to Glass’ office on Main Street in Daphne in the middle of the night and leaving it behind the gate.
“It’s a piece of art,” she said. “I worked very hard, and I want the bird back. I got so many compliments. He brought joy to so many people. We need his smile back in Fairhope.”
Mosher added, “We’re all volunteers in this. We’re doing it for the good of the community.”
If you have information about the theft of the pelican, call the Fairhope Police Department at 928-2385. For more information about Art Takes Flight, visit www.arttakesflight.com.