Grand Rapids, MI USA: Third incident of vandalism hits ArtPrize

Third incident of vandalism hits ArtPrize

Published: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 6:52 PM Updated: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 8:14 PM

John Tunison | The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — In the third instance of ArtPrize vandalism, Joseph Wambaugh, the creator of a butterfly sculpture behind DeVos Place, says someone tossed a ceramic sphere-shaped segment of the insect’s body into the Grand River.

Wambaugh, Allendale, who spent three months making the colorful butterfly, figures the sphere cost about $250.

The damage comes after someone last week slashed the canvas-like material used in a 30-foot tall greeting card in the B.O.B. parking lot, and the Sept. 17 theft of a 10-pound globe from the driftwood sculpture “A Matter of Time” near the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

The greeting card damage likely happened late Thursday or early Friday, while Wambaugh thinks his piece was vandalized Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Wambaugh, a recent Grand Valley State University graduate with a fine arts degree. “This is my first real project being out on my own. That makes it really disappointing to have stuff broken.”

The butterfly is supposed to have three ceramic spheres, tucked inside a metal frame, for the body parts. Now, only two are left after someone swiped the head and tossed it in the adjacent river.

Wambaugh said he could see the broken sphere in the river current last week, but it since has washed away. He moved one of the remaining spheres to the head position and left the middle slot vacant.

Wambaugh secured the head with a clamp and cable to stop anyone else from tampering with it.

It wasn’t the first time he had to fix the sculpture. The night before ArtPrize began on Sept. 22, high winds that damaged other outdoor pieces also cracked two of the spheres when they fell to the concrete. He managed to glue one sphere back together and replace the other with an extra sphere he had at home.

Wambaugh expects to participate in next year’s ArtPrize, but said he’ll take into account the possibility for vandalism.

“I’ll definitely take more steps to protect it, and possibly look for an indoor venue,” he said.

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