NEWS- In thin air: Paintings stolen from airport

<P>It's nice to be compared to one of art's great masters, but local artist Julie Garcia is wishing she and "Scream" painter Edvard Munch had less in common. Both have had their works disappear recently.
<P>On Monday, May 2, Garcia went to the Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Airport to pick up seven of her paintings, which have been on display for the last three months as part of the Charlottesville Albemarle Art Association's exhibit.
<P>To her chagrin, where one of those works"Marina," a vibrant mixed media painting and collage priced at $630– had been hanging, there was only white wall.
<P>Garcia says she's mystified.
<P>"I can't believe someone could get out of there with two huge paintings," she says of the diptych, a two-paneled work. Each "Marina" panel measures 22"X 30", nearly the size of a movie poster.
<P>Garcia filed a police report with Albemarle County Police, and the airport's director of marketing, Terrie Dean, is hoping for a "good outcome."
<P>For 35 years, Dean says, the Association has been hanging shows at the airport, which provides the second-floor space free of charge. While there is 24-hour federal security to intercept bombs and weapons, Dean says the Association hangs works there at its own risk, something Garcia readily acknowledges.
<P>But while there's no liability issue, Dean is disturbed by the disappearance.
<P>"The Charlottesville Albemarle Art Association has successfully displayed work here for 35 years" without a single such incident, she explains. "Passengers have enjoyed seeing the work, and artists have benefited from being able to sell their work."
<P>Garcia fears she may never see "Marina" again, and she says the theft of her art is particularly painful.
<P>"It's such a personal violation," she says.
<P>Nonetheless, she won't hesitate to hang her works at the airport in the future.
<P>"I just think it's one of those unfortunate things," she says.
<P>And looking on the bright side, she points out, there is a strange flattery in the theft.
<P>"The sweet fruit in all of it is that someone admires your work enough to steal it," she says. "But if someone liked something enough to steal it, why couldn't they like it enough to buy it?"
<P><B><img src="/images/issues/2005/0418/news-marina.jpg"> <BR>Julie Garcia's "Marina" disappeared from the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport in the days before the show closed.</B><br>COURTESY JULIE GARCIA