Crime: Public Art Vandalized Downtown

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – On Friday morning, the manager of the Fidelity bank in downtown Cary called Clare Sifford, Director of Cary Visual Art. Someone had tipped over the sculpture on loan at the corner of Chatham and Academy. This is the second piece of sculpture vandalized in the last month.

Getawaycar

Getawaycar, the sculpture by Adam Wall was awarded Best in Show this year in Cary. “Last night,” Clare told CaryCitizen, “someone (probably more than one person, as this piece is VERY heavy) pushed it over.”

Damage was evident along the top of the sculpture. A paint smear on the sidewalk showed where the artwork had crashed to the ground.

“I could see that the paint was chipped and the steel was bent,” Clare said. “Fortunately, Adam is semi-local, as he lives in Laurinburg, NC, and will be able to come repair the piece at some point in the near future. This sculpture is valued at $5,000.”

2nd Piece Vandalized

This is the second piece of public art vandalized in downtown Cary in less than a month. “The first one was Collective Conductivity by artist Julia Rogers,” Sifford told this publication.

“It happened on Wednesday evening, 8/24/11. The glass heads of the sculptures were pried loose and dangling by the LED light wires, the glass lotus in the seated figure’s hand was broken, and her large glass hand was pried loose and stolen.”

“The glass hand is not cast,” Sifford said, “it is hand-formed. Each piece is individually made to properly fit the other components in the piece. This sculpture is valued at $15,000.”

Collective Conductivity photograph by Clare Sifford.

 

Victim #1: The Artists

In most cases, the artists themselves must pay for the damage in repair or restoration.

Cary Visual Art carries liability coverage for the exhibition, but artists are advised to self-insure their work. Few do.

So, in the case of vandalism, the artists are the victim.

Victim #2: The Community

Vandalism has a chilling effect in the arts. “I am so disheartened that it seems like vandals have specifically targeted our exhibition. This is heartbreaking to me, and I am afraid that continued vandalism will discourage artists from participating with CVA, therefore hurting our exhibition further.”

So, in the case of public art, the community is the victim as well.

Standing Up For Ourselves

Naturally, community members downtown and across town are outraged. Police Captain Don Hamilton wrote to Clare Sifford, “I hate that this is piece number 2 to be damaged and I agree that continued problems could jeopardize future artists wanting to participate.”

Cary Police run nightly patrols downtown. One expects they will step up their presence in light of this new challenge.

One might also expect video surveillance to be considered as a way to safeguard valuable artwork on loan to the community.

As our downtown redevelops, now is the time to make sure we have a safety regime commensurate with our community investment and needs.

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