CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for vandalizing a Memorial Park sculpture.
The sculpture, called "Attic Trophy," depicts a young girl playing with a hula hoop. It was discovered lying on the ground at its installation site in Memorial Park Tuesday morning. The sculpture was apparently pushed over, resulting in a deep fracture visible on the girl's left ankle, police said.
The Department of Public Works has placed guard rails around the sculpture and the Chatham Borough Public Arts Council is looking into whether repairs can be made onsite. Otherwise, it will be transported to a repair facility in Hamilton.
Borough Mayor Nelson Vaughan said he was "very, very disappointed" to learn of the vandalism. “She’s become part of our community over the last two years. She’s visible and well-loved by residents,” Vaughan said.
Jen Kaplan, of the Public Arts Council, said she does not believe the incident will affect the council's negotiations to keep the sculpture with California-based The Sculpture Foundation, who loaned "Attic Trophy" and two other sculptures to the borough.
Kaplan said the current contract for the three sculptures ends in May, but the council hopes to sign another loan agreement soon. "We weren't ready to give them back," Kaplan said, adding that the foundation has "been very understanding of our situation here."
According to a statement released by the borough, Paula Stoeke, the director of The Sculpture Foundation, called vandalism part of the "risk" entailed in public art.
"It is unfortunate, but also rare, that vandalism occurs," she said. "My hope is that even the peers of the people who did this will judge the act harshly as they are spoiling something for the whole community. That said, we at the Foundation understand that this is a singular instance, and we look forward to working with the Borough of Chatham in the future."
Seward Johnson, the sculptor of "Attic Trophy," said he felt that the sculptures should remain on display for the public's enjoyment. "The good outweighs the bad," Johnson said.
Johnson is also the sculptor of "The Search," also on display in Memorial Park, depicting an elderly woman searching in her purse for her glasses, which rest on top of her head.
A representative from Crime Stoppers was not immediately available for comment, but Vaughan and Kaplan said the reward for any information leading to an arrest of the vandals is $1,000.
"Attic Trophy" was first installed in 2009, thanks to a grant from Investor's Savings Bank.