The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 5, 2013

Public art installation vandalized in downtown Pittsburg

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
From staff reports

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Exactly three weeks after they were positioned downtown in a public art installation by SEK Art Fest, two coal buckets were tipped over and damaged by vandals.

“We had discussed early on what if someone was to do something. We’ve had windows broken out down here,” said Heather Horton, owner of Sweet Designs Cakery at 311 N. Broadway, and an active supporter of the arts downtown. “But in the end, we thought maybe it’s a good cause, it’s a piece of art so maybe they’ll respect it enough to leave it alone. Obviously that’s not the case.”

Horton was one of three judges who selected the 26 winning coal bucket statues from a field of more than 50. Weighing in at 65 pounds, the three-feet tall fiberglass buckets each carry a unique theme and are positioned along each side of Broadway from Second to Eighth streets.

Two of them were tipped over sometime over the Fourth of July holiday on either side of Sweet Designs Cakery, Horton said.

“We were closed for the Fourth,” she said. “We live upstairs, but with the air conditioning running, didn’t hear anything. We were shocked when the police came this morning and asked about it.”

On the bucket designed by Kelci Rae Cooper, who by day works at CDL Electric in Pittsburg as a sign artist, paint was scraped off of upper handle when it hit the concrete sidewalk below, and the top of the bucket now has cracks criss-crossing it.

Cooper, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, said in previous interview that she worked into the wee hours for weeks on her design, “Signs of SEK Times.” Her bucket was underwritten by Wells Fargo Advisors.

On the bucket designed by Lawrence artist Grace Peterson, which carries the theme “Stone Soup,” the handle broke. The crash also caused a palm-sized hole in the top. Her bucket was underwritten by Professional Engineering Consultants.

Horton said security cameras on the exterior of buildings along Broadway that were put in place specifically for the art installation might help provide clues as to the identity of the vandals, and that Pittsburg Police are investigating.

“I think it’s sad that people are so selfish and they can’t think beyond their actions,” Horton said. “To think that people spent hours and poured their hearts into a piece of artwork, and they just have to ruin it.