Recently, one of my sculptures was damaged. “The End,” located along the Millcreek Trail in Moab, is part of the ArTTrails program. I do not know if those who damaged my sculpture did so out of malice or if they thought they were fixing a problem.
“The End” is a large concrete human head designed to lie on its side, and it was mounted in this manner to an underground structure. The people who decided to stand the head upright broke the concrete that was around the anchor bolts in the sculpture.
To the people that did this: I am not interested in condemning you or judging you for this action. However, I am very saddened by this and thankful that no one was injured. I heard some believed that the sculpture was on its side because of vandalism rather than design. Perhaps, that is what motivated you to change the placement of my sculpture and in the process damage it. If this was the case, I urge you next time to pay closer attention before you decide on the appropriate action.
If you would have looked more carefully you would have noticed the plaque with the name of the piece and a phone number for the ArTTrail organizers. If you suspected vandalism, it would have been much wiser to call the organizers, the city offices, or the police so that they could contact the artist and work out the proper solution to the issue.
The biggest reason that the piece was bolted down was in fact for public safety. When you stood it up on its neck and propped it up with rocks you created a very dangerous situation. The piece was not designed to stand like this and is not stable in that position. Imagine how you would feel if this sculpture would have fallen on a child, someone’s pet, or one of your friends.
If this was done as a prank or out of malice, I would like to share something with you that you may not realize. Unfortunately, in our country there is not much support for the arts, as there is in many other countries. A good portion of the public art that you see throughout the United States is just on loan from the artists.
To be a sculptor, especially one who creates large public pieces, is not an easy profession. Income is unpredictable, the work requires a huge investment in time, money, equipment and skill. On top of that, sculptors must move these large, heavy pieces around from show to show. This often entails having to hire additional help and equipment. I pour my heart and soul into my work and have spent my lifetime learning and honing my skill as an artist.
I often struggle to finance the production of my sculptures and sometimes must put the production of my sculptures on hold because I simply cannot afford to make them. When you damage my sculpture, you hurt me directly. So, I ask you, what did I do to make you feel that you should hurt me?
Public art makes art accessible to everyone, not just the privileged few. Art in public spaces opens opportunities to interact with art in a way that is natural. Art can connect to people on many different levels, and hopefully triggers deeper exploration in the people who interact with it, because often visual art expresses that which you can’t quite put into words.
Of course, I would like my work to be able to connect on some level with everyone who encounters it, but I know that we are all in different stages of our lives, explorations and experiences and therefore may not have the same tastes in art. I do not like all the art that is produced, nor do I expect you or anybody else to. However, I hope that you can find in your heart at least some respect for the artists and the people who do want to experience the art.
My sculptures and all the sculptures that are part of the ArTTrails program are on loan to the City of Moab just for a year. If you do not like some of the sculptures this year perhaps you will like some of the sculptures that replace them in October.
If there is something that bothers you about this program or a particular sculpture you can always contact the ArTTrails and address it directly. You even have the option to vote on their website moabarttrails.org. This public art program is a real asset to Moab and was set up with genuine desire to share with and involve the community. I hope it will grow and that we can all find a way to engage with each other more positively and respectfully.
Thank you for listening.