Someone vandalized an iconic downtown Colorado Springs statue Tuesday night, at least the fifth such attack on public art over the past year.
Police found the damage to the “I Have Been Dreaming to be a Tree” statue Wednesday morning, said Matt Mayberry, director at the Pioneers Museum. The wire-framed deer with dramatic tree-branch antlers stood at South Cascade Avenue and Colorado Avenue since its debut in 2018.
“My guess is somebody, or some people, tried to climb the sculpture or put a bunch of weight on that antler. It collapsed as a result,” Mayberry said.
Curators are working with Byeong Doo Moon, the South Korean-based artist who designed the sculpture, on how to repair it. The damage is so extensive that the bent antler was removed, leaving the deer “off balance,” Mayberry said.
“We just hate to have his art treated in such a way, you know, especially since (the artist) is not from here. I mean, it would be bad in any case, but it just breaks my heart.
“A ripple of this is that we will be putting resources into fixing a piece of art that was damaged through vandalism instead of caring for a number of other pieces,” he said. “We are putting resources here that could extend to making other pieces or improving other pieces.”
For now, Mayberry awaits the artist’s recommendation on how to best repair the deer.
“Undoubtedly, it’s going to be very expensive, regardless of how we do this. That’s just kind of a bummer.”
While sculpture vandalism in Colorado Springs isn’t common, Mayberry said, it’s not the first time art has been targeted. And this is the second time this year that Moon’s work has been the victim.
In February, a 10-inch wire snipe sculpture was swiped from its downtown perch. A jogger found the $70,000 artwork in a park and returned it to the Downtown Partnership. The piece was featured in Moon’s other downtown exhibit, “You, Light as a Cloud.”
But such incidents have become far too common, especially for the “Civic Treasures” created by Scottie Burgess.
His 8-inch bronze statue titled “Pikes Peek” was stolen last year from the sidewalk near Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue. The artist later replaced it.
His miniature “Kissing Camels” sculpture became the missing camels in December. Someone pried it out of its cubbyhole created by a missing brick in the wall of Rutledge’s men’s clothing store at Kiowa and Tejon streets.
The original statue never was recovered, but Burgess replaced the popular Kissing Camels sculpture for the cost of materials.
Early Sept. 15, 2018, local artist Kim Polomka’s downtown sculpture “Greenback Cutthroat Trout” was ripped in half. The vandalism was filmed, though, by nearby street cameras, and the culprit was arrested.
Mayberry said police are investigating the damaged deer tree but asks that anyone with information contact police.
The Pioneers Museum is accepting donations to support the repairs, city spokeswoman Vanessa Zink said. People wishing to express condolences or appreciation to the artist may send notes, comments and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, she said.