Let's just say that 51-year-old Donald Ray Bias of Beaumont is a man of science, not a man of art.
Where one more aesthetically inclined -- the sort who prices art for a living, say -- might see a David Cargill sculpture entitled "The Importance of Being Mary" as being worth $25,000, Bias's ruthlessly reductive, steel-trap of a mind saw only $69.50 worth of scrap metal.
And so that was how much Bias was paid for a portion of the bronze statue after he swiped it from the fenced-in yard outside the Art Museum of Southeast Texas and later chopped it to bits.
Bias went to state jail for 18 months as a result of that 2005 caper, but a couple of weeks ago, Beaumont police allege that Bias was at it again. They say they caught Bias trying to pull the copper rainspout off a prominent downtown Beaumont edifice in March 11. If convicted of the third degree felony he is now charged with, Bias could get two to ten years in prison.
"Well, some people don't ever learn," says Cargill, who is best known to Houstonians for his works in St. Basil's Chapel at the University of St. Thomas. Reached at his home in Beaumont, the 76-year-old sculptor is in wonder of Bias's misapplied work ethic.
"If he would work as hard as he does at just about anything else, he could make a good honest living," Cargill says. "He not only stole that statue, he bent it and broke it, and it is certainly not easy doing all that to quarter-inch plate. My guess is that he has to be loaded on drugs."
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A peep at his mugshot here might lead others to the same conclusion...
Employees of the art museum eventually found the fragments of Cargill's statue and he has since reassembled it. He says it is still in his home though, as a new base for it has not been prepared.
"The only reason it's not back at the museum is my own delinquency," Cargill says.
As for Bias, his own delinquency of the other kind has him still parked in Jefferson County Jail.