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Reward offered for missing cat, part of New London's Sculpture Mile

New London — The nonprofit organization responsible for the installation of three dozen sculptures throughout the city is offering a $500 reward for a missing cat.

The cat is actually a disc-shaped cast cement sculpture titled “Catastrophe” that was created by Boston sculptor William Evans and recently reported stolen from its home outside Title IX, a pop-up bookstore at 345 State St., next to the Garde Arts Center.

The sculpture sat atop a wooden pyramid-shaped stand and depicts a series of cats, one peeking out from the center of the disc and surrounded by other cats. The stand was not taken.

The piece is one in a series of contemporary sculptures installed in 2017 that now adorn green spaces throughout the city, from the Lyman Allyn Art Museum to downtown New London. Collectively the exhibits are known as the New London Sculpture Mile, an initiative created by the nonprofit Hollycroft Foundation with the idea of making high quality art more accessible to the public.

The sculptures range from the giant granite “Monk” crafted by Harry Gordon that stands on Broad Street to the 20 silhouetted steel animals created by artist Wendy Klemperer on display along Williams Street.

Hollycroft President Brian Wendler said he was disappointed by the loss of “Catastrophe” but is holding out hope that someone will do the right thing and return it. The Day previously reported the name of the sculpture as "Catastrophy."

In fact, Wendler said, he’ll accept the return with “no questions asked.”

It’s unclear when the cat sculpture went missing, but the apparent theft comes at time when Hollycroft is enlisting new artists and planning more art installations in some of the five towns where the art is on display: Guilford, Madison, Clinton, New London and Stonington.

Wendler said plans are to fill some of the gaps in New London and the group looks forward to community involvement as the project continues. Art is chosen for placement by a committee and new art is being placed periodically.

“We’re looking forward to a membership drive and an outreach effort for art in New London and Clinton,” he said.

Perks of membership include visits to artists' studios.

The Hollycroft Foundation was founded more than 25 years ago by art collector William Bendig, who promoted the arts and started the initiative in Essex. It came to New London initially to help with the ongoing revitalization effort in Hodges Square. Bendig died in 2019, but Wendler said the project, funded by Hollycroft, has been uplifting to many communities.

It’s not the first time “Catastrophe” has made news. In 2017, at the onset of the New London Sculpture Mile, the sculpture was installed outside the New London Judicial District Courthouse on Huntington Street. It was installed without state permission, and Bendig was told to move it.

Jeanne Sigel, the marketing and development director at the Garde Arts Center, made some calls, and the sculpture was moved to the front of the office of attorney Sebastian DeSantis, which is now owned by the Garde and houses the Title IX bookstore.

Garde Executive Director Steve Sigel said the cat was rescued once, and it could happen again.

“These things do have nine lives, after all,” Sigel said. “Something tells me if it is ever found it will be an interesting story. I hope it finds its way back.”

He joked that he’d like to think it was a “cat burglar” with cultural sophistication and the sculpture would remain undamaged.

Anyone with information is asked to contact New London police or the Hollycroft Foundation at (860) 938-7154.

g.smith@theday.com

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