On June 8, several knitters worked tirelessly to turn a black metal structure into a colorful installation to brighten up Heights Boulevard. Exactly a week later, someone destroyed it.
All that remains of the installation at 16th Street is the very top row of knit triangles, remnants of the piece that was completed by 24 volunteers as part of International Yarn Bombing Day and took months of planning to execute.
This act of so-called "yarn bombing" was harmless enough. Heights resident Mary Goldsby, who coordinated the installation, told abc13 that the response has been "overwhelmingly positive." It was permitted and intended to be up for a month, until someone tore it down on Saturday evening, as reported by Inner Loop Houston Crime Alerts Facebook page. As noted by The Leader, witnesses who have since come forward on social media saw a woman between the ages of 40 and 50 tear down the installation, "shrieking in anger as she did it."
This senseless act, which so far remains a mystery, is just the latest headline in Houston public art vandalism. Earlier this year, a mural of President Barack Obama at Travis and Alabama was vandalized -- struck with paint. It was the second such mural of the president at that location -- the previous one also the target of vandalism not once but twice. Undeterred, artist Reginald Adams has since painted a new mural, which has so far remain untouched.
In December 2011, an installation on the Menil campus was also vandalized, when an unknown vandal damaged the oak involved in the controversial Art Guys project The Art Guys Marry a Plant. The tree was nearly broken in two, but survived, only to be attacked again nearly a year later. The tree has since been removed from the Menil's campus. (There's also, of course, the high-profile graffiti vandalism of a Picasso painting inside the Menil Collection by Uriel Landeros last year, the only act of vandalism discussed here that has a face to the crime. Last month, Landeros was sentenced to two years in prison.)
While we don't yet know the motivations behind the yarn bombing vandalism, it is the latest in a sad commentary on the perceived value and role of public art -- that if you don't like something, you can simply destroy it. Hopefully, the knitters behind the Heights installation can learn a lesson from someone like Adams, who, after having his work defaced not one or two but three times, got up and did it again.
CrimeStoppers is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandal. Tips can be submitted by calling 713-222-TIPS, texting TIP610 and your tip to CRIMES (274637) or online at www.crime-stoppers.org.
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