Native American sculptures likely destroyed in Moffat County landfill
May 22, 2018
CRAIG — Two Native American metal sculptures — works of public art that have been missing for about two weeks from the KOA Campground in Craig — were likely destroyed at the county dump.
"The KOA was sold recently, and the new owners took possession of it May 1, and they started cleaning up the property. They were changing the décor of the property, and they disposed of the sculptures," said Craig Police Chief Jerry DeLong.
DeLong believes that, after being placed in a roll-off trash dumpster, they would have been taken to the landfill and probably destroyed.
Originally, there was confusion about the nature of the disappearance of the artwork.
New campground owner Chad Hodnefield confirmed that he and his wife had disposed of the two sculptures and that the confusion likely arose when the couple told a community member they were taken in an attempt to protect her feelings.
"We are getting rid of things. We didn't realize there was value there. We wanted to change the décor of the campground a little bit," he said. "We had three dumpsters of stuff that we got rid of, such things as empty boxes. We just never thought of the value."
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Hodnefield said there was nothing in the purchase agreement or disclosure documents for the campground to lead them to believe they were not owners of the artwork or to suggest they might have had value.
Local artist Bernie Rose, who died in 2012, made the life-sized copper sculptures.
One sculpture — Fan Dancer — was about 6 feet tall, and 5 feet in diameter. It had metal feathers in both hands, a feathered headdress and fringed moccasins.
The other, a young female with braids, had a stained glass belt, was about 5 feet tall and had a full skirt with fringed moccasins.
The feathers on these pieces were made of galvanized metal, with bronze and brass accents. Each feather on both pieces had a decorative concho, also made of copper with fringes.
When Rose's widow, Kathleen "Kathy" Shea, noticed the sculptures were missing, she asked the new owners about them and was told someone had taken them. Shea began a social media campaign in an effort to locate the art.
"These pieces are unique, invaluable and irreplaceable," Shea wrote in a letter to the editor, submitted to the Craig Press and originally intended for publication Wednesday, May 23.
After learning that her late husband's artwork had likely been destroyed, Shea said, "I am unspeakably hurt. My heart is broken."
While she doesn't blame the Hodnefields, she expressed disappointment in how they handled her inquiries.
"I'm really upset that they lied to us. I don't know what's next," Shea said. "Not only is it a loss to me, it's also a loss to the community."
For their part, the Hodnefields regret the incident, especially as an introduction to the community.
"We are sorry and apologize to Shea. If we'd had foreknowledge, we'd have handled it differently," Chad Hodnefield said.
The Craig Police Department has determined that no crime occurred, said Delong.
No charges will be filed.
“The investigation has been closed,” he said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.