Webster's Woods to reopen next month after vandalism
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Jim Breitbach of the Port Angeles Parks Department picks up a damaged ceramic figurine by Texas artist Vida Jones on Wednesday at the Webster's Woods outdoor art park at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Webster's Woods, the outdoor art park that is undergoing repairs at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center after vandals hit it last month, is expected to reopen by Feb. 1.

Thirty-five art installations were broken or pulled from their stands in the 5-acre park, said Robin Anderson, director of the center at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

Anderson estimated that the total monetary damages could exceed $10,000.

Damage to the sculptures and displays varies, she said.

Some exhibits need only be put back in the ground, while others are undergoing repair by their creators.

Still others are being rebuilt from new materials.

So far, the artists who are repairing their works are doing so on a volunteer basis, Anderson said this week.

“There were 12 [artworks] that were damaged beyond repair,” she said.

For instance, a number of ceramic figures by former Sequim resident Viva Jones, including “The Blue Dragon,” were shattered; the artist currently lives in Texas.

Some artwork damaged in the attack already was deteriorated by time and weather, and Anderson said she thinks some of them would have had to have been removed in the near future even without the vandalism.

The fate of “Dancing Sweaters,” by Judith Bird of Port Townsend, is undecided, Anderson said.

The sweater sculptures already were weathered and faded before they were pulled from the ground by the vandals, she said.

A wood and wire-mesh piece by Canadian artist Shirley Wiebe that was pushed over by vandals shattered because it had rotted with age and won't be restored.

Other displays that probably will not be repaired are “Juncture,” a tree-trunk-and-earthen-void sculpture by Deanna Tiandell of Sequim, and “Doorkeeper,” a big wood-and-stone frame on the trail, by Dani LaBlond of Port Angeles.

Anderson said the center is not ready to release a full list of artwork that was destroyed or damaged out of sensitivity to the artists.

Many of the artists are very upset about the damage to their creations, she said.

The Port Angeles Police Department is investigating the vandalism spree, which took place during the overnight hours of Dec. 19 or 20.

As of Thursday, there have been no breaks in the case, said Deputy Chief Brian Smith.

Police have said the vandals most likely will reveal themselves by bragging about their overnight destruction spree.

Anderson could not offer an official estimate for the damage because not every piece of artwork had a registered, attached value.

“We're still waiting to hear back from some of the artists,” Anderson said.

She also is waiting for information from the city about what might have been covered by the city's insurance policy.

The art park is closed at night, and the paths are not lit; thus, the woods are too dark for passers-by to see intruders in the park or for a camera security system to monitor the displays.

As the repaired and rebuilt art displays return to the art park, they will be reinstalled by the same city employee who put them into place in the first place — but in a more permanent way, Anderson said.

The early projects were intended to remain for only one year before they were replaced with a new exhibit, so they were only mounted rather than fully installed, she said.

Anderson said that as the years passed, some of the “temporary” sculptures and structures remained at the park, either on permanent loan or given as gifts, but they never were never reinstalled with a more permanent anchor.

When the vandals went through the park in December, Anderson said, the temporary installation measures were weak enough that the vandals could simply push over some of the displays.

After discussions with the individual artists, displays that are intended to remain in the art park indefinitely will be installed more securely to better protect them from vandals, she said.

Anyone with information on the vandalism can phone police at 360-452-4545 or North Olympic Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 with case No. 2012-22470.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 17. 2013 5:52PM
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