While millions across the nation were stirred awake on Election Day ready to partake in civic engagement, Spokane instead woke up to a broken heart. Two, in fact.
The fiberglass heart sculptures – installed just days earlier as part of a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House – were vandalized sometime Monday evening or early Tuesday morning. The heavy concrete cylinders each sat atop were tipped over, and the ornately painted fiberglass hearts cracked open when they crashed to the ground.
“It was obvious to customers,” said Andrea Hartwig, manager of the newly opened Indaba Coffee on Riverside Avenue near Howard Street, where a heart was installed Oct. 30. “Everybody was heartbroken.”
Hartwig said she discovered the broken heart sometime before 7 a.m., tipped over right outside the shop’s front door. Rather than leaving it fractured and busted, she grabbed some tape and set it upright.
Karen Mobley, the artist who painted it, said she appreciated the extra effort, but wasn’t sure how the tape would affect the piece once she ripped it off before trying to glue it back together. She said she wasn’t surprised something like this would happen – just a little disappointed.
“I’ve been around for a while doing stuff outdoors – murals, public art, stuff like that,” she said. “Inevitably, there’s going to be a willful child or aggravating adult who thinks it’s fun to destroy things. I think it comes with the territory.”
The other sculpture damaged was tipped over outside the Fox Theater on Sprague Avenue near Monroe Street.
“It looks like somebody went on a little spree last night,” said Julie Delaney, spokeswoman for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Spokane.
Delaney said an initial count showed just two were broken, though they were the second and third to take a tumble. Another heart was vandalized outside the Chase Bank on Main Avenue last week.
All three were part of the Give Love Heart Project, co-sponsored by STCU, which featured 28 hearts installed throughout downtown, with art from at least two dozen local artists.
“We are saddened by the vandalism that impacts our community’s ability to do such an art project and support families staying at the Ronald McDonald house,” said Mike Forness, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House. “Many professionals and organizations have made this downtown art project possible. And we are disappointed by this senseless vandalism.”
Downtown businesses can sponsor the hearts at a cost of $3,000, with proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House. Delaney said six hearts have been sponsored, though she didn’t believe any of those were broken.
The hearts are scheduled to remain until the end of February before being sold at a gala on March 1. All are insured, Delaney said. The charity plans to enlist the artists whose hearts were damaged to repair them as best as possible.
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