A campus communicator announcement recently brought attention to an ongoing mystery. It explained the story of a missing piece of art with the request: “If you happen to have this piece, please return it to the art department; no questions will be asked.”A watercolor painting donated by its creator, John Blosser, professor emeritus of art, was discovered to be missing from its spot in storage over a year ago.
Although its monetary value is not high, the work has a lot of meaning for the artist and the college. It has been entered in a number of shows, and the art department hoped to display it on campus.
The painting was created as a memorial to Blosser’s grandfather, Christian Blosser, who had been the first professor of biology at the college in the 1920s. Called “Grandfather’s Fish,” the colorful aquatic subject matter signified memories and connections to both a family member and the study of biology.
Randy Horst, professor of art, and other members of the art department were initially stumped by the disappearance.
“We don’t normally have things go missing,” said Horst. “This is Goshen College, and that’s usually not a problem.”
The painting was being housed in storage on the second floor of the Union Building since the beginning of the summer of 2015. While it normally resided in the Art Building, renovations forced its relocation.
The storage area in the Union is not a place frequented by many, so it was even more surprising for it to go missing.
Horst explained that plans had been made to retrieve the piece to put it on display. When it initially could not be found, they thought that it could have been tucked out of sight, but it was not. Horst’s next response was to post a notice in the staff and faculty bulletin to see if they knew anything about it.
“Maybe someone had noticed it and thought, ‘Well, if this isn’t being used for something, maybe I’ll hang it up in my office,’” said Horst. “But that wasn’t the case.”
This line of investigation didn’t come up with anything, though, and nothing else was heard for the rest of the year.
The publication in the communicator is “an additional attempt” to get a response. Horst thought it was it less likely that students would be involved, but the goal of the announcement was to see if it, as Horst said, “jogs anybody’s memory.”
Much of the fuel for the search came from John Blosser himself, who wanted to try all methods before giving up on finding his piece of art and tribute to his grandfather. Blosser’s investigation eventually led him to Ken Newbold, provost and executive vice president, who posted the communicator announcement.
Newbold said, “This missing painting was brought to my attention by [Blosser]. We would like to locate this piece, as it was a donation to the college.”
“Art on campus is generally highly respected and taken care of,” said Horst. “My guess is that someone else just enjoyed—and we’re hoping that was somebody else on campus.”