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Leverett Artwork Disappears

Senior Tutor Calls Incident 'An Embarrassment'

By Stephen E. Frank

If it were a Hardy Boys mystery, it might be called "The Case of the Missing Masterpiece," but for Leverett House officials, the case of a charcoal drawing that has disappeared from the dining hall is a reality.

The drawing of a reclining man--displayed near the main entrance to the dining hall--was noticed missing on September 19, but administrators said it might have disappeared sooner.

The sketch was part of an ongoing exhibit of works by Graduate School of Design student Alejandro D. Becker and is valued at several hundred dollars, according to a Leverett House official.

In a letter to Leverett residents posted September 20, Senior Tutor Gordon C. Harvey called the theft of the drawing "an embarrassment to us all" and urged anyone with information about the artwork's disappearance to contact his office.

"This reflects very badly on the house," Harvey wrote. "It's a particularly depressing thought to me, as a newcomer to Leverett, that we may not be civilized enough to have such exhibits." This is Harvey's first year at Leverett.

But some house officials said another possible explanation for the drawing's disappearance could be that it fell down from its mounting and someone accidentally threw it out.

"We had an artwork fall off the wall last year and the dining hall people threw it out," said Wendy L. Kohn, a resident tutor in Visual and Environmental Studies. But Kohn said the size of Becker's drawing makes this an unlikely scenario.

Although the drawing has been gone for several days, house officials had not yet contacted the student artist or the Harvard University Police Department. Becker expressed surprise when told by The Crimson in an interview yesterday that his sketch was missing.

"I'm kind of shocked," he said. "I'm not very happy with the way they proceeded [not to inform me of the loss]." Becker said that he had not yet decided whether to demand the return of the rest of his works.

This is the second year Kohn has organized an art exhibit in which artists loan their works for display. Kohn said she is optimistic that the loss will not hinder plans for future art shows.

"We're certainly going to have to change the way we display art," she said. "But I certainly haven't given up hope of displaying art to the community. It's an important thing to do."

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