'Wildcat Family' statue vandalism sparks anger among students, faculty
The “Wildcat Family” went to bed last night in all its UA glory, but as classes began this morning, the bronze statue was streaked with ASU gold.
The spray-painted sculpture seems to be in retaliation for a prank last week in which Tempe’s “A” Mountain was given a makeover, with the “A” going from its normal white to bright Wildcat red. But while the repainting of the rival’s mountain is generally seen as a fun, if slightly devious tradition, many at the UA are calling foul when it comes to the statue.
Along with the blotchy yellow coat on the cats themselves, “ASU” was scribbled on the statue’s cement base, which is inscribed with the names of the donors who funded the project.
“It’s clearly in retaliation to the ‘A’ prank,” said Morgan Abraham, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. “But I don’t think it was appropriate at all. … This was literally vandalism of artwork.”
Kimberly Cain / The Daily Wildcat Jennifer Beebe, damage restoration contractor, uses a high pressure hot water system to remove graffiti on the bronze Arizona Wildcat Family sculpture at the UA mall on Monday.
The University of Arizona Police Department arrived on the scene at approximately 10:30 a.m. to investigate what it considers destruction of state property, said Sgt. Filbert Barrera, public information officer and crime prevention supervisor for UAPD, adding that there are no suspects in the case.
The 14-foot statue, which was sculpted by Nicholas Wilson in 2004, cost around $170,000, according to Kristen Schmidt, registrar at the UA Museum of Art. The museum oversees much of the art on campus.
“My main responsibility is to care for artwork,” Schmidt said, “so when anything like this happens … it’s heartbreaking.”
Schmidt was on hand to make sure the cleaning treatment wouldn’t damage the sculpture.
The cleanup was handled by TM Building Damage Restoration, a group hired by Facilities Management. They used a pressure-soaker and a mild solvent to rid the sculpture of the graffiti.
“There’s a lot of fine detail on the wildcats there, and so we’re going to be very cautious and make sure we get it clean but also that we don’t damage the artwork,” said Chris Kopach, assistant vice president of Facilities Management. Cleaning the statue could cost between $200 and $500, Kopach added.
Many students on campus took offense to the statue being defaced.
“I’m pissed off,” said Jack Kretschmar, a pre-business junior. “I get that we painted their ‘A’, but that’s not an expensive statue.”
That sentiment was echoed by several people who were walking past the statue as it was sprayed clean, the bright-yellow paint dripping down to reveal the familiar bronze underneath.
“I think it’s fun to have the rivalries, but vandalism of historical statues on campus is over the top,” said Alison Burnette, a UA alumna and faculty member. “Stay classy, ASU.”
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