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Greater Denton Arts Council offers permanent home to damaged sculpture

The Denton Public Art Committee agreed Thursday that an outdoor glass sculpture damaged by vandals be moved indoors and permanently displayed at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center. 

The committee recommended that the Denton City Council accept an offer from the Greater Denton Arts Council to protect the 3-year-old monument to Denton blues legend, Tom "Pops" Carter. 

In early September, someone pounded on the well-reinforced glass sculpture with a heavy object until the safety glass shattered. The force splintered the stained glass underneath. 

Georgina Ngozi, executive director of the Greater Denton Arts Council, said the group surveyed the community and the arts council staff before bringing the recommendation to the arts council board for approval. 

The arts council board agreed to make the offer on the condition that the city pay the costs to stabilize the sculpture and install it in the center. 

"We will use it [the sculpture] as an opportunity to program," Ngozi said. 

For example, musicians may be invited to "hang out with Pops" and perform at the center. Ngozi has begun collecting stories about Carter and plans to include the stories with the story about what happened to the sculpture. 

Police have not made any arrests and the reason for the vandalism is not known. But the artist who created the sculpture, Christie Wood, said she feared the work was targeted after racially charged debates erupted over the Confederate soldiers' monument on the Square. 

The sculpture was in Quakertown Park and was damaged a few days before the Denton Blues Festival opened in the park. Carter, who died in 2012, was a featured act in the festival from its inception. 

After news broke of the damage, many people donated to repair or replace the sculpture. The city has about $1,200 toward restoring the sculpture, according to Janie McLeod, community events coordinator for the city and the staff's liaison to the Public Art Committee.

Currently, the sculpture is in storage at the city's service center. It will remain city property, even if installed at the arts center, McLeod said. 

Ngozi has heard from some residents who think it's wrong to bring the sculpture inside. 

"They think he needs to be out in the community," Ngozi said. 

But the vandalism has changed what the sculpture means to the community, she said. 

"I think now he does represent Denton," Ngozi said. 

The matter has not yet been scheduled for a City Council agenda. 

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

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 in September.  The Denton Public Art Committee agreed Thursday that the sculpture be moved indoors and permanently displayed at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center. Jeff Woo/DRC