Friday, November 2, 2012

Ketchum art vandalized with stickers

Police ‘very serious’ about investigation

Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smith A sticker placed on an artistically painted utility box on Main Street in Ketchum questions the validity of the project. The sticker has since been removed.

An unidentified vandal—or group of vandals—has recently defaced public and private property in Ketchum, including public art sponsored by the Ketchum Arts Commission. The Ketchum Police Department is investigating the vandalism, but has not identified any suspects.

“We have received reports from the Arts Commission and other community members that people are placing stickers on the Visitor Center, some private businesses and also on utility boxes with cover art,” Ketchum Police Chief Steve Harkins said Thursday. “We started the investigation as soon as we received reports and are trying to identify suspects.”

Ketchum Arts Commission Chair Claudia McCain said at a commission meeting Wednesday that it had recently funded the creation of “cover art” to be placed over utility boxes in Ketchum. She said the stickers applied to the art seem to be some sort of homemade bumper stickers.

“Who’s paying for this? We do!!!” the stickers say.

McCain said the stickers peeled of easily and did not seem to damage the art permanently. She said the vandalism seemed to be a protest against the use of public money to support art projects such as the utility box cover art. The Visitor Center is run by the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance. The vandals, it seems, are also protesting the use of public funds for marketing purposes. However, not all of the vandalized property was publicly funded.

“The cover art on a utility box at the intersection of Main Street and Sun Valley Road that was targeted was actually sponsored by Atkinsons’ Markets,” Ketchum Arts Commission Member Jennifer Smith said. “It even says so right next to where the vandal placed the sticker.”

Ketchum Arts Commission Vice Chair Marybeth Flower said at the meeting that she had actually witnessed a vandal applying a sticker to one of the art boxes.

“I started yelling at him,” she said. “I was trying to tell him not to destroy something an artist has spent hours and hours creating.”

Flower reported the incident to the Ketchum Police.

“She reported him as a white male with short, dark hair, approximately 5 feet 8 inches and 150 pounds,” Harkins said. “The incident occurred Oct. 20.”

Flower said at the meeting that the suspect was “well-dressed, not scruffy-looking.”

Harkins said the department is taking the vandalism case very seriously.

“Someone’s vandalizing the city,” he said. “Artists have spent a lot of time on those art boxes. We don’t want people placing stickers on them.”

Harkins said vandalism is not an appropriate way for people to voice their opinions.

“I think there are other ways to protest than by vandalizing the city art boxes and private property,” he said.

Brennan Rego:

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