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20 Foot Santa Juried Exhibition at 17 Cox

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Last fall Lucas Spivey slammed on his brakes along an empty stretch of Route 16 in New Hampshire, his attention grabbed by a modern makeshift ‘wanted’ poster. "$1,000 REWARD for the Arrest & Conviction AND Return of The 20 foot SANTA CLAUS" read the message, spray painted in red letters on the side of a parked cargo truck. Intrigued, Spivey, owner of the 17 Cox art space in Beverly, was determined to find out more about the story behind this mysterious message. What exactly was the "20 foot Santa Claus," and why was it so highly valued by its owners?

As it turned out, the Santa was the last of ten fiberglass statues produced by the owners of the Coffee Caboose in West Ossipee, New Hampshire. Its theft was no act of petty larceny considering its size and weight. Moving the statue would require several people and a large truck.

The reward offer that was on the truck has since been painted over, the owners possibly being resigned to the fact that the Santa statue will never be recovered, but in the spirit of the coming holiday season Spivey has decided to host a juried exhibition at 17 Cox centered on raising awareness of the missing statue and working to return it home before Christmas this year. Juried by performance artist Rachelle Beaudoin, the show opens November 1, and closes on December 23. Beaudoin is currently judging the different pieces and proposals submitted, and the 17 Cox team has put hours of research into tracking down the statue.

Of the ten statues, they have catalogued the whereabouts of seven. Recently, the team followed up on a lead that a Santa statue similar to the one they were looking for had been spotted in the woods along a dirt road in New Hampshire, but on further investigation were not able to locate it. If the publicity and research created by the exhibition are not able to locate the 20 foot Santa by the closing of the show on December 23, any proceeds from the show will be donated to the Coffee Caboose owners to help cover their loss.

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About Author

Matt Kuhlman is an artist, writer, and journalist originally from Lawrence, KS. He earned his BFA in printmaking from the University of Kansas, and a Master's in journalism, also from the University of Kansas. His artwork has appeared in dozens of shows throughout the past decade, and Big Red & Shiny is the fourth online publication his work has appeared in. Currently in the Boston area, he has also lived in Albuquerque, Milwaukee, New York City, and rural Kentucky.

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