Amnesty Plea for National Gallery Cellphone Art Thieves

 The National Gallery’s decision to permit photography gives me an opportunity to unburden and confess to art theft.  But first I want to plead for an amnesty to shield those of us who assumed that the Gallery had entered the 21st century years ago.

On a cold Sunday last January, I cellphotoed a shot of Tom Thompson’s Jack Pine while roaming  the gallery with my wife.  I love the painting.  It looks the way the north woods feel, and I thought it would be cool and calming to have the image in my pocket.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to do that,” my wife said seeing me check my photo on our way to the underground garage. “I’m pretty sure it some sort of federal crime.”

I laughed at the idea, but her comment made me uneasy and about a week later, I confirmed the policy on the Gallery website. Instantly, the Jacked Pine Painting in my phone turned from a cooling thought to burning guilt.

I tried to email the image file back to the Gallery anonymously from my gmail account, but because of its size, it kept bouncing back.  So, I deleted it from my photo folders and asked my wife to forget the incident ever happened.  She promised to not say a word unless someone asked.

That was good enough for me, and I went back to my daily routine trying to not raise any suspicions and hoping no one at the Gallery would notice the Thompson painting’s compromised copyrights and weakened sense of privacy.

Then, about a month later, my email account began crashing repeatedly.  I methodically reviewed every file and folder to find the problem, eventually coming upon the culprit files in my Sent mail box where the multiple failures to send back the mega Jack Pine emails rested.  Each message had a copy of the prohibited photo still attached, and each time I deleted it, I became a little more wistful.  As I was about to erase the last one, I looked at the photo, thought about how funny the Gallery rules were, and fell even more deeply in love with the image which now made me smile for many reasons.

So, that last copy was still sitting in my Blackberry bowels when I read the Ottawa Citizen this weekend and learned that the Gallery is about to change its no-photo policy.

I have thus decided to come clean. But because the new policy is set to come into effect on April Fools Day, you’ll understand if I am a little leery and suspect it might be some government policy enforcer trick to draw cellphone art thieves out of the shadows.

So, that’s why I am calling for a general amnesty for cellophone Jack Pine jackers like me.

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