Work of public art vandalized

Communal Tree Sculpture in Library Museum Garden has two fewer glass blossoms, hanging from its branches. HZ photo

Heidi Zemach for the Seward City News –

The “Communal Tree” sculpture, recently-installed in the Museum Library garden has been vandalized. It’s still a beautiful work of art, but at some time this past weekend, someone smashed two of the fused glass flower rosettes that hung off from the end of a the tree branches. It appears that they broke them while trying to twist them off. The sculpture had only recently been installed in the garden, and was officially welcomed to the spot during a garden party on July 11th.

Sheila Morrow, who created the sculpture’s glass work for the commissioned piece she built with Sandy Stolle, who carved the yellow cedar wood, was surprised that such a thing could happen here in Seward.



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“Well, I am just so disappointed,” she wrote SCN in an email. “Our design would have been different, had we thought vandalism would be a concern.  I am mostly disappointed that our community does not have quite the character that we hoped and believed.  As part of the local mural group, Sandy and I took heart in the fact that there has never been any defacing of the more than 15 murals that grace our town.”

The artists’ principal concern in creating the sculpture was that it would be able to last for many years and withstand Seward’s changing temperatures including wind, rain and snow, and that the glass pieces would stay snugly embedded within the wood.

Meanwhile, replacing the glass blossoms won’t be easy. It took much experimentation to create the perfect shape for each one, and they required at least 2 full day firings, Morrow said. They can be replaced, but won’t be exactly the same: “That’s the nature of glass in the kiln, but glass is just material, more difficult is getting over the feeling of being violated. We were so looking forward to how these pieces would look with snow falling on them in the winter.”

There has yet to be a discussion of the next step.  If the Friends of the Library Museum chooses to have her replace the blossoms, it will be September before that can happen. On the other hand, the sculpture will appear complete with only the glass windows complimenting the wood, she said. Perhaps that will be their decision.

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