Witness saw three people allegedly swinging on artwork
A new crop of sculptures on the Cloverdale Sculpture Trail can mean many things — more sculptures to admire, new artists to discover, the yearly rejuvenation of Cloverdale’s downtown art scene — and the chance of a public sculpture getting damaged.
The latter happened to Hector M. Ortega’s Was I Just Another One, which sits on the corner of North Cloverdale Boulevard and West Second Street, on May 31.
“During Friday Night Live, I worked the late shift. So at about 10 p.m. I stopped (at the chamber building), I walked over to my car and I saw the sculpture laying on its side in the planted area,” said Chamber Director Neena Hanchet. “I thought, ‘oh, this isn't right.’ It was pretty heavy, I tried to see what I could do with it. At that time Yave Guzman and one of the security guys were at the north end, I asked them, ‘Could you help me bring it in here just to keep it protected?’ And it worked out perfectly fine. There was an industrial-style hook where I couldn’t tell if it had metal fatigue or if somebody had done something to it — and I didn’t see anything happen.”
After getting the sculpture tucked into the chamber office for the night, Hanchett called sculpture trail manager Joyce Mann to let her know what she had found. And, on June 6, Ortega came to Cloverdale from Arizona to fix the sculpture.
According to Ortega, the pin at the bottom of the long teardrop-shaped sculpture broke, as well as the hook holding up the vessel.
“But it’s all reparable,” he said.
The official cause of the sculpture wreckage is undetermined — it could have been a fatigued piece of metal holding up the sculpture — but Mann said that she spoke to a witness who saw three men between the ages of 30 and 60 pulling on the sculpture toward the end of Friday Night Live.
This is a risk artists take when putting their pieces out for display, Mann said, but she hopes that people will keep an eye on anything that may look suspicious when it comes to sculpture activity.
In response to the original hook breaking, Ortega installed a stronger hooking mechanism to the sculpture.
The trail has had some other sculpture-related incidents in its 16 years of operation, but Mann said that they’ve never been “to this extent.”