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Black Vase Into the Blue • Nezperce man makes whole state look dumber


Black Vase Into the Blue

A popular Boise art gallery played host to one of the strangest heists in recent local history on the night of December 8, when a vase by famed Idaho artist Kerry Moosman suddenly went missing from a storage room. The 100-pound black ceramic vase, made by Moosman's signature old-world technique of "hand-coiling," was specifically targeted by the burglars who broke a backdoor lock to enter Stewart Gallery. Numerous pieces of equal or greater value were ignored by the burglars, and the precision of the theft left police and the gallery's owners with a simple, difficult to investigate conclusion.

"I guess they really wanted it," gallery co-owner Stephanie Wilde surmises. Wilde discovered the forced entry on December 9, via a broken lock on Stewart's back door. From the entry point, she explains, the thief or thieves had to traverse the entirety of the small gallery, which was not being monitored by a motion detector at the time, before entering the storage room and locating the vase.

"This sort of thing just doesn't happen," Wilde says incredulously. "The [currently exhibited] glass show was so vulnerable to anyone who wanted to vandalize it, and they didn't touch a thing. We feel very fortunate that this was their only goal." Adding to the mystery was the piece's uniqueness. It was an unsold leftover from a recent show, easily recognizable as Moosman's work, and would be nearly impossible to resell.

As of Monday, December 20, Wilde had no new information about either the whereabouts of the vase or the identity of the culprit. Her only path of investigation, she says, is to look at associates of the gallery. "We're a destination gallery," she says. "It's not like we have a lot of walk-ins. People generally come in because they want to see the exhibition or they're part of our client base. But our clients are such a small group, that it had to have been someone who was in the gallery. We never even think that our clients could be involved, but this was somebody that knew us."

Currently, no reward is being offered for the recovery of the vase. Instead, Wilde is playing the waiting game, hoping that fear, guilt or a change of heart will compel the thief to return this unique ceramic vessel with no questions asked.

"These are monumental pieces," she says. "Kerry takes a great deal of time to create each one of the pieces, and for someone to destroy it because they were fearful--we would much rather have them admit they made a mistake and return it."

Nezperce man makes whole state look dumber

46-year old James MacArthur of Nezperce, Idaho got his 15 minutes of watercooler fame last week after being featured on newscasts nationwide for his involvement in a failed drug deal.

MacArthur, the AP story goes, was conducting a small-time drug sale in front of a stranger's house when he noticed the resident watching him from the porch. MacArthur told the man to "look away," not realizing that he was speaking to newly elected Nezperce sheriff Phil Steen.

Steen allowed the perps to leave, but jotted down MacArthur's license plate. MacArthur now faces charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Tell BW your true crime stories. Call Nicholas Collias at 344-2055 or e-mail