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Icon unbroken: Local sculpture honored beloved Denton blues man

Profile image for Lucinda Breeding
Lucinda Breeding

City officials confirmed Friday that the public art committee will decide the next steps in addressing the ruined glass sculpture of beloved Denton blues artist Tom "Pops" Carter. An unidentified vandal took a blunt object — like a baseball bat or a tire iron — to the public art piece in Quakertown Park between Sept. 11 and 12. 

Janie McLeod, a staff liaison to the public art committee, said all city property is insured, including public art.  

"But the deductible is $50,000," McLeod said. 

The city's maintenance budget pays to clean and repair public art. 

The vandal had to work hard to destroy the stained glass piece, which was encased in 3/8-inch sheets of bullet-resistant plastic called Lexan. 

The Denton Parks Foundation started a fund to raise money to repair or replace the demolished sculpture.  

Molly Tampke, executive director of the parks foundation, said donors mostly gave small amounts — pocket change and small bills — at the foundation booth during North Texas Giving Day on the downtown Square Thursday night. Tampke said the destroyed sculpture was at the booth, and the foundation collected about $500 at the event. 

Denton artist Christie A. Wood, who created the life-size sculpture of the musician, said the vandal destroyed the piece, which was removed from the park for safety reasons on Thursday. Wood said she suspected the vandal targeted the piece because it honors a black musician.

Carter charmed Denton musicians and music lovers for decades in Denton before his death at age 92 in 2012. He played 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 was an anchor act of the Denton Blues Festival.

The vandalism happened the week leading up to the Denton Blues Festival, which closes tonight in Quakertown Park.

The public art committee meets at 4 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Denton Civic Center, 321. E. McKinney St. 

Donations to the foundation for the sculpture can be made online

Peggy Heinkel-Wolf contributed to this article

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC. 

FEATURED IMAGE: A vandal destroyed the life-size stained glass sculpture of Tom "Pops" Carter in Quakertown Park some time around Sept. 11-12. Jeff Woo/DRC