Two days after Magdalena Sudnik installed her sundial sculpture at the Inner Harbor, she drove by the site and noticed something most unpleasant.
"I glanced over," Sudnik recalled, "And it's gone. The Baltimore sundial is gone."
The piece, titled Time is Now, is a metal circular rim that is propped 4 feet off the ground by two legs. The rim encircles a trio of dinner plate-sized sundials -- each calibrated to show the time in a different city: Timbuktu, Geneva and Baltimore.
"I kind of wanted to show people that we're all connected though time," she said. She chose cities that she deems noncontroversial. Timbuktu is a funny- sounding name, she said. Geneva is neutral. "I wanted to take people to places that are free of conflict," she said. "It doesn't always need to be about trouble."
On Thursday evening, as Sudnik closely examined the scene for the first time, she realized the Baltimore sundial was not "gone," as she originally thought, but had been ripped from the sculpture and propped against a leg. Also, the steel arrow -- or style -- that was supposed to cast a shadow on the face of the Geneva dial was missing. And a rod in the rear of the sculpture had been snapped in half.
"Somebody just played really hard," Sudnik concluded. "This takes some effort to break."
Sudnik and her partner, Travis Guthrie, used socket wrenches to unbolt the piece from the brick walkway at McKeldin Square and then heaved it into the back of a white Ford Econoline van. It is going back to the studio for repairs -- which she estimated will cost about $200.
Just after they finished removing the sculpture, Kim Domanski, the public art coordinator for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, appeared and offered her condolences.
"It doesn't usually happen," Domanski said. "It is extremely unfortunate." Domanski made a few phone calls and quickly tracked down two orange cones to mark where naked bolts poke through the brick. "I don't want anyone tripping with the sandals on," she said, as two sandal-wearing tourists walked by.
The sculpture is one of 31 outdoor sculptures that the city is sponsoring this year. Artists are installing other works in the next couple of weeks outside the Baltimore Convention Center, at Preston Gardens across the street from Mercy Hospital, on North Avenue between Howard Street and Maryland Avenue, and at the Artscape site on the median of Mount Royal Avenue.
Two years ago, in May 2005, a sculpture of a crab was stolen from in front of Eddie's of Roland Park grocery store. That sculpture was part of a citywide project to raise $1 million for the city's public schools. The 75-pound crab was wearing a chef's coat and was returned the next day.
Sudnik's piece was supposed to be displayed for a year at the Inner Harbor. "I don't know what to say about this," she said. "We're going to have to make it Baltimore-proof." She hopes to reinstall the work in about two weeks.