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, 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.

4 replies
  1. Jeff Alsberg
    Jeff Alsberg says:

    I think anybody that cares enough to read this article and respond to it feels like I do – disturbed at the vandalism. As far as Cary News goes though, I have to disagree. I have lived in every region of the country and read the drivel and dog bites man stories that most local news organizations churn out. I am constantly impressed at the depth CN shows. Second, I can also say that the Cary police department is by far the best of any place I have ever lived. Most of my Cary friends all feel the same way you and I do. We are truly in one of the best towns in America. Displaying amazing art outdoors, buying theaters and restoring the downtown are just a few of the signs that we are very fortunate. I really enjoy your publication as well but I do think your giving CN more credit for shaping public opinion than they deserve…even if they were trying to get a rise out of the anti-establishment sentiment that is so prevalent these days.

  2. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    Hi Walt,

    Thanks for the comment. I suspect others have the same opinion of “ineptitude” as you do.

    I blame it on The Cary News.

    Their whole story line is based on trashing the town. Anytime they get a chance to portray the CPD as Mayberry R.F.D., they let it fly. But stories of crimes solved? Accreditation earned? They have no column space for that.

    No wonder citizens think the police department is inept.

    As the editor of CaryCitizen, I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of the town’s cops, from Chief Bazemore on down. I can tell you from first hand experience that they are a very professional bunch. The department has more accreditations than most municipal forces, They are well-trained.

    We try to cover the crimes solved, successful initiatives, community outreach and other stories neglected by Cary News. Since we began publication in 2009, we published 60 police stories.

    No one’s perfect, but I think it’s a distortion to assume our police department is somehow unprofessional.

    I’d like to see a more accurate picture of CPD reflected in public opinion. To that end, I have two suggestions:

    1. Stop reading The Cary News.
    2. Consider enrolling in The Citizen’s Police Academy.

    Taken together, those two steps will give you a far different impression of our police force.

  3. Walt Karas
    Walt Karas says:

    Any fingerprints or did they not bother to check? In every case of a crime in Cary that I am aware of,the police work shows signs of ineptitud. The police just seem to rely on the naturally low crime rate in Cary to create the impression they are effective.

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