It's no surprise that art tends to walk out of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center: it has around 150 artworks on display and multiple unmonitored exits on each of three levels, and is open daily from five in the morning until midnight. What's surprising is that the Convention Center hasn't done more to address the issue.

Convention Center security guards first noticed the most recent manifestation of this problem on the morning of Tuesday April 6: blank spaces on the third floor where three prints on loan from the Bellevue Art Museum had previously hung. A big convention of eye surgeons had mounted temporary display walls which blocked views to the hanging area, making it easy for someone to quietly remove three lithographs by blue-chip artists Jasper Johns, Henry Moore, and Dale Chihuly, and sneak them out one of the Convention Center's exits. A lone monitored security camera in the area was not recording on the night of the 5th, when the prints were presumably taken.

The theft was reported to the police later that week, on Friday April 9, and reported to the museum the following Monday. The museum will be reimbursed by the Convention Center, but the values so far agreed on by both the museum and the center are very low: $1,000 for the Johns, $1,800 for the Henry Moore, and $2,000 for the Chihuly. The Johns print was given to BAM by Gordon Woodside, who runs Woodside/Braseth Gallery with John Braseth. Braseth says Woodside paid $1,000 for the print in the '70s, and that given Johns' market, the piece is probably worth five times that. Woodside/Braseth also mounted a show of Henry Moore prints recently, and though he's not familiar with the specific work that was stolen, Braseth said that the minimum price on a Moore lithograph is $4,500.

This wasn't the first theft of art from the center: in October 1998, a kinetic sculpture of strobe-lit dancing metal forms by Cathy McClure waltzed out of the building during a show of winners of the prestigious local Betty Bowen awards.

Sharon Ducey, the Convention Center's art program administrator, says the center will look into improving their security, though she declined to speak about specific measures, not wanting to aid thieves.

BAM intends to continue showing works from its small collection at the Convention Center, but other institutions might want to be more careful. "I never thought it was a good venue for exhibitions," said Braseth, after relating a story about a $14,000 painting which came back to its owners with puncture holes after being on display there. "I'm not sure their security values artwork as much as the conventioneers."

* * *

The Wonders of the Great '90s Economic Boom: Burger King Corp. has embarked on a plan to upgrade its logo and architecture, according to a report in last Thursday's New York Times. Where once we expected boxy structures with an unappetizing tan-and-red color scheme, new plans showcase "elongated statements with intersecting jutting planes and a fast-food interpretation of a clerestory window." The cathedral meets the Whopper! A "hurriedly built" prototype opened last Friday in Reno, where it should become a mecca for contemporary architectural critics.