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Pops Carter monument in Quakertown Park vandalized

Denton glass artist Christie Wood confirmed Wednesday the life-size stained-glass sculpture she created to honor Denton blues artist Tom "Pops" Carter was destroyed in an act of vandalism earlier this week. 

The work was installed inside 3/8-inch bullet-resistant Lexan before being set in Quakertown Park in 2014. The city's public art committee commissioned the work to honor Carter. 

A blues legend who made Denton his home, Pops Carter performed with other well-known blues musicians, including Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Lightnin' Hopkins, B.B. King and Little Milton. In the mid-1980s, he formed his band, Pops Carter and the Funkmonsters, which would become an anchor act of the Denton Blues Festival. 

Coincidently, the 19th annual Denton Blues Festival opens Friday in Quakertown Park. The Funkmonsters are scheduled to play a set beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 

Wood said a vandal — or vandals — must have been bent on demolishing the sculpture. Some of the largest impact marks fall over the hands and heart of Carter's image. 

Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Wood said, someone took an object to the well-reinforced glass sculpture and pounded away in several spots until the safety glass shattered. She thinks the vandal used a baseball bat.

When the safety glass shattered, it splintered the stained glass beneath.

"I would say it's destroyed except for the steel frame," Wood said.

She took pains during the construction of the piece to protect the stained glass. She tossed rocks and other objects at the Lexan covering to test its durability.

"It takes so much force to break this glass," she said. "It's used in cars for presidential candidates and kings. It is bullet proof. But it will flex."

Wood said she's troubled that no one reported it.

"Someone told my mother about it over at the senior center. That makes sense, that someone would walk out of the back of the senior center and see it out there behind the center," Wood said. "My mother thought I knew. She came over this morning and casually said, 'I'm so sorry about your sculpture.' I had no idea."

Wood suspects the sculpture was targeted because it honors a celebrated black Denton musician, she said. On a Facebook post, Wood mentioned the racially charged debates over the Confederate soldiers' memorial on the downtown Denton Square.

"They are cowards," she said. "Absolute cowards. I almost feel like we should leave it out there to say, 'This is the result of the hatred in this city.' An innocent piece of artwork honoring a beloved character who was loved by so many people in Denton was destroyed. This is what hatred led to. It drives me nuts."

Wood said she still has the designs and plans she used to create the piece and could recreate it.

"I wouldn't want to leave it out there again, though."

City of Denton Parks Director Emerson Vorel told Wood the city plans to remove the sculpture to prevent any further damage or someone getting hurt. A crew will put the sculpture into storage to evaluate it and decide what to do next. 

The parks department would also file the police report.  

A call to the Denton Police Department's spokesman was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon. 

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877.

FEATURED PHOTO: The life-size stained-glass sculpture that Denton glass artist Christie Wood created to honor Denton blues artist Tom "Pops" Carter was destroyed in an act of vandalism earlier this week. The work was installed inside 3/8-inch bullet-resistant Lexan before being set in Quakertown Park in 2014. The city's public art committee commissioned the work to honor Carter.  Photo shot Wednesday, September 13, 2017, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC