Well known local artist and Burner Jack Champion says he's devastated to have lost a pair of elephant installations he's been working on for the past 10 months, which he intended to bring to Burning Man on Sunday. Instead, early Sunday morning, a thief stole his pickup truck and trailer in West Oakland, while he watched, which had both his tools and his elephants packed in it.
Champion tells KPIX that the artworks are "just irreplaceable and it’s devastating." He decided to bring his story to the media, now that he's canceled his trip to Burning Man, in the hope that the public may help recover the art. "It’s destroyed me, I’m beside myself. I don’t know where I go from here, but I would like to ask the community if they see this, and it’s going to be noticeable," he says.
The missing truck is a 2006 Silver Ford 250 with license plate 8E11419, and it was stolen at 32nd and Hannah Streets in West Oakland at 1 a.m. Sunday. The truck has actually been stolen before, last year, and it was recovered in San Leandro.
Champion injured himself by trying to chase the thief, and grabbing on to the truck's door handle as the thief took off. He now says he's not walking well, but it was an act of "desperation."
He believes the elephants will likely get discarded in pieces. The pair were a tribute to the artist Salvador Dali.
Champion is known as of the last few years for bringing large-scale animal installations to the playa. His 2016 installation of five enormous crows, titled "Murder," was later cast in bronze and exhibited in Washington, D.C. The crows are returning with the group exhibition titled No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man to the Oakland Museum this fall.