Thieves ground Old Town’s butterfly art

       The annual appearance of butterfly sculptures around the city this summer - part of a six-figure fundraising program - has been marred by the theft of one of them in Old Colorado City.

A rendering of the stolen "More Than Glass" butterfly sculpture.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Rotary

       The metal piece, titled “More Than Glass” and made by Marlena Whitt and Tena Cobb, was reported stolen Aug. 11 from outside the Touch of Class shop at 2419 W. Colorado Ave.
       Police Lt. Patricia Feese, the Shift 1 commander for the Westside's Gold Hill station, said this week that police are investigating, but have no leads (at least none that can be shared) on suspects or recovery.
       The sculpture had been among 31 created by local artists in the “Butterflies and Friends” program that's been coordinated for the past six years by the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs with support from business sponsors. Each butterfly is displayed in public locations throughout the summer, then auctioned off by the Rotary in September. Last year, Butterflies and Friends raised more than $130,000 for the District 11 school arts programs and the Rotary Club's Service Fund.
       The fund helps people in tough financial situations. Examples are low-income children needing dental work and small businesses along Garden of the Gods Road that lost business in the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, according to Rhonda Rickett, the Rotary's Butterflies and Friends event manager.
       Two other butterfly sculptures had also been in Old Colorado City. After the theft, the Rotary removed both for security reasons, relocating them to the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. One of them, “Reflections on the Blues,” by Deborah Nelson, outside the Hunter-Wolff Gallery, 2510 W. Colorado Ave., had been damaged, apparently by someone trying to steal it as well, Rickett said.
       The other piece, “Homage to Van Briggle,” which had been outside Squash Blossom, 2531 W. Colorado, was unharmed.
       The stolen sculpture “is worth thousands of dollars that would have gone to kids,” estimated John Sawyer, the club's director of public relations.
       Rickett elaborated that the stolen piece was “particularly stunning,” including custom painting and stained glass inserts.
       But she fears that now, a week and a half after the theft and despite widespread media publicity, the sculpture may be gone for good. Police have told her that metal scrappers are among the possible suspects.

These butterfly sculptures (since removed for security reasons) had been at the Hunter-Wolff Gallery (left) and Squash Blossom (right).
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Rotary

       Adding an emotional impact, one of the sculpture's artists, Tena Cobb, had recently lost her daughter, so the piece was done with her in mind. “That's why it was titled 'More Than Glass,'” Rickett said.
       John George, owner of Touch of Class, said this was the second year one of the butterfly sculptures has been on the sidewalk outside his store. “It's a shame,” he said. “People try to do something good, and other people steal it or tear it up.”
       In developing such sculptures, an artist starts with a pre-made metal template representing butterfly wings, and creates from there.

Westside Pioneer article