PASADENA — A portion of the colorful mural fence that borders a Huntington Memorial Hospital construction site was stolen Tuesday night, spurring increased security measures around the unique artwork.
The stolen panel, four feet wide and eight feet high, depicts the Sphinx at the entrance to Pasadena's Scottish Rite Temple.
The panel was part of a 316-foot-long temporary fence at California Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue. It was painted by Pasadena City College students under the direction of Kent Twitchell, a well-known Los Angeles outdoor muralist. The fence, which depicts many Pasadena scenes, was financed by the hospital. The painting took all summer to complete and became a popular attraction.
'I Cannot Believe It'
Twitchell said he estimated the value of the stolen panel at $5,000.
"Of all the things I thought could happen, even in a nice community like Pasadena, it never entered my mind that someone would actually come up and steal (the mural)," Twitchell said. "I cannot believe it."
The college and the hospital asked Twitchell to teach the special mural class to create a public work of art. The fence will be in place for about two years while the hospital constructs a new main building.
Their plan calls for auctioning off portions of the fence when it is no longer needed.
No Witnesses or Suspects
Construction workers reported the panel missing to hospital security guards early Wednesday. Hospital spokesmen said they notified police, but on Wednesday there were no witnesses or suspects, police said.
"We'll take steps immediately to prevent this (from) happening again," said Maggie McPhillips, a hospital spokeswoman.
McPhillips described the stolen picture as the only portion of the fence that was contained within a single 4-foot panel. Other scenes, such as those of the Green Hotel, the Colorado Street Bridge and the entrance to Huntington Hospital, overlap the wooden panels, most of which are four feet wide.
McPhillips said one of the first security measures would be to secure the panels to fence posts with strong bolts instead of nails. She declined to say what further steps would be taken.
Twitchell said Wednesday that although the mural was completed last month, it still needed to be cleaned and coated with a plastic protective seal, which he had hoped to do this week.
Meanwhile, California Boulevard is being widened. The sidewalk along the fence was bulldozed last week and trees and shrubbery were removed. The fence survived without visible damage, a hospital spokesman said.