ST. GEORGE — On Sept. 4, a sculpture that is part of the Art Around the Corner loan program valued at $5,500 was pried from its pedestal and taken.
Michelle Graves, deputy director of art and events for the city of St. George, said the sculpture was later recovered by city park staff in the bushes, and they believe juveniles were responsible.
The nonprofit Art Around the Corner is an organization that works in partnership with the city of St. George to enhance and beautify the area by bringing in art sculptures from various artists that are then displayed throughout the year in areas around St. George.
The art is on loan and for sale to the public. Graves said the city budgets money to purchase some of the sculptures, which helps permanently enhance the city’s parks and other areas, including installations at the hospital and the airport.
Graves said the city has been partnering with the organization since 2004, and the efforts have been largely incident-free until this year.
Both the sculpture and the pedestal were damaged in Friday’s theft, she said, adding that it looked as though the perpetrators also tried to pry the informational plaque from the pedestal.
Graves said that this year, in addition to the Sept. 4 theft, they have had several of the sculptures damaged.
“It’s not cool,” she said. “The beautification of our parks is for the tax paying citizen.”
Graves said that the city would much rather spend taxpayer dollars on enhancing and beautifying the city spaces than repairing damages.
“We won’t be able to keep the parks as well kept as they’ve been if we are just replacing damage,” she said.
One of the things Graves stressed about damage to the art in particular is that these pieces are on loan from artists all over the country. They are a privilege to have in the community, she said, but that privilege will only last if the artists feel like this is a safe place to send their work.
Art Around the Corner president Marianne Hamilton made the following statement:
The generosity of the talented artists who allow their work to be displayed in St. George each year is a huge gift to our entire community, Their beautiful sculptures enhance our quality of life, and unite us in enjoying world-class art. On behalf of the entire Art Around the Corner board, I hope the community will be vigilant in watching out for any signs that the City’s outdoor sculpture gallery has been maligned in any way, and will report any suspicious activity. Our artists and their works deserve our utmost respect and care.
Graves was unsure why this year had seen a sudden uptick in vandalism as the city has primarily been blessed with low incidences of vandalism and graffiti.
She speculated that it might be due to increased frustrations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic but that it could also just be a side effect of the city’s growth.
The city is imploring citizens to keep a watchful eye, and Graves asked that parents and educators talk to children about the malicious and inappropriate act of vandalism and understand that arts, parks and recreation are the reward of every tax paying citizen.
“It is our privilege to keep St. George City safe, clean and beautiful.”
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