Over the past year, downtown Colorado Springs has turned into an island of misfit statues — at least five attacks have left public sculptures vandalized or missing.

But Friday, one of those statues was returned to its original glory.

Award-winning South Korean sculptor Byeong Doo Moon traveled to Colorado Springs to make extensive repairs on his “I Have Been Dreaming to be a Tree” sculpture at Cascade and Colorado avenues.

The right tree-branched antler of the iconic wire-framed deer sculpture was vandalized in mid-September and collapsed. The damage was so extensive that the antler had to be removed.

After measuring out the width and circumference of the damaged antler, Moon reconstructed it through a painstaking process of unraveling and cutting each individual wire by hand, and then straightening them back into the original shape. The completed piece was reinstalled in its old spot Friday afternoon.

“We love to have Byeong in the community, but we hate to have him in the community for this purpose,” said Matt Mayberry, director of The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

The statue was acquired by the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs as a permanent piece of public art after it was first featured in the 2017 Arts on the Streets Program.

In total, the city has 99 pieces of permanently owned public art, all of which are donated.

Speaking through a translator, Moon said that although he was hurt that his work was damaged, he is hoping that by repairing it he can reunify the community. It was important for it to be fixed, he added, so the meaning and significance behind his work would not be lost.

While sculpture vandalism is not common, damage to the deer marks the second time this year Moon’s work has been targeted.

In February, a $70,000 10-inch wire snipe statue on loan to the city was recovered in Monument Valley Park after disappearing from its downtown roost in Boulder Crescent Park.

Althugh police investigate thefts and vandalism of artwork as potentially criminal acts, the responsibility of protecting artwork comes down to the community, Mayberry said.

Both statues are a part of Moon’s larger theme of the cycle of life, where he finds a common reflection between nature and humanity.

For the 2019-20 exhibit, Colorado Springs displayed 12 new works of art selected from 112 proposals from artists around the world, according to the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership website. Six are sculptures and, for the first time, six are murals.

“Public art has an important role in what we call place making, to create a community that is unique and has a sense of its own,” said Mayberry. “We are very proud of the long history of the creative community, and we want to support that.”

Colorado Springs is working on a public art master plan to consider how the city will create, sustain, and maintain public artwork in the future, said Mayberry.

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