Arson

Santa Fe police on Sunday were trying to determine who set fire to a 21-foot tall sculpture outside a downtown gallery.

Santa Fe police on Sunday were trying to determine who set fire to a 21-foot tall sculpture outside a downtown art gallery.

Firefighters responded to the blaze just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Form & Concept gallery at Guadalupe and Read streets.

They put out the flames within 20 minutes, Santa Fe battalion commander Scott Ouderkirk said.

Detectives were investigating the fire as an arson, Santa Fe police Chief Andrew Padilla said. A photo taken by a bystander showed a red gas can at the base of the sculpture.

Padilla said police were reviewing surveillance footage to try to identify a suspect.

The sculpture, called The Solacii and created by Tigre Mashaal-Lively, was made of steel frame pipes, fiberglass and fabric.

"The Solacii is a queer and Afrofuturist expression of comfort and solace by a local artist of color, and its burning is an undeniable act of violence against the artist and a considerable cross section of their community," the gallery's owner and staff said in a statement.

Police urged anyone with information on the arson to call them at 505-428-3710.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(34) comments

KK Hannegan

I thought the sculpture was a female Zozobra \ Triple Goddess, and that the burning of the sculpture was done by the artist as performance art.

Shawn Mathis

To the SF New Mexican- It's a pity that you only chose to use a photo of the destruction and not of the work. Surely the gallery has a photo of this piece.

To the Artist- I thought your piece was unusual, creative and unique.

To the DA and Mayor Webber- I've lived here for over a decade and often wondered what happens to vandals that deface the charming walls of our city, that is unique among all U.S. cities. The appearance of the city and its many multi-cultural artworks and displays are what bring so many to visit, contributing to not only to the hospitality industry but all interconnected businesses.

To the DA: The motive behind destruction of public or private property is irrelevant. Those who damage our lovely city should receive the maximum punishment under law. And as far as community service, the city is finally installing much needed public toilets. In addition to incarceration, any community service should be cleaning the toilets. This might go far in discouraging this shameful destruction.

I am deeply saddened by this incident.

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Moses Townsend

You speak as if your opinion of what “real” art is is the universal rule of law. This is a condescending viewpoint held by a lot of older elitist Santa Fe art “aficionados”, but the reality is that generation is dying off and on comes the next.

Santa Fe needs some fresh blood and different types of art. I personally liked this sculpture, but to each their own.

Santa Fe has plenty of the same Southwestern/Georgia O’Keefe content, that is so stale in my opinion. Let’s hope the next generation sets a new precedent for the Santa Fe art world.

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Khal Spencer

Art is in the eye of the beholder. A lot of my more conservative relatives never had much admiration for Robert Mapplethorpe, but I did. I thought P i s s Christ was an abomination, but others thought it was art. So it goes.

I was not a great admirer of this piece of art either, but it wasn't on my lawn so it really wasn't my business. I wondered, when biking or driving down Guadalupe St, whose it was and what it meant.

I'm pretty disgusted that this turned into yet another case of public vandalism in a city that is fast becoming famous for people trashing things they don't like. And whether you or I liked that piece of art is irrelevant to what happened to it. I hope someone gets caught and prosecuted for felony property damage.

Sky Kaly

I enjoyed the sculpture. But I also miss the beautiful mural that the new art museum got rid of..I use to bring family and friends to our new Railyard so they could see the mural. We all need to preserve art And history. Why are so many people being nasty?

elizabeth sutton

This is so sad. Arson of such a refreshing, highly visible, and cool piece of artistic expression, is pathetic. Every time I drove past it I would smile, and utter to myself how I loved my artistic town. Disheartening to say the least.

Denise Jimenez

Where was gas can filled? Cameras at Allsups? Will the culprit even be prosecuted?

Samuel Herrera

Why bother looking for the culprit? The DA will not pursue the culprit and have them do the restorative justice dance where they have the victim sit in a room with them and tell them what a bad thing they did. Just like the criminals who tore down the Obelisk. If the DA actually does prosecute the culprit, then she has a LOT of questions to answer.

LEE HAI

The piece was one of the most innovative and interesting ones

I've seen for some time, it for sure escaped and got out of the

trendy box of gentrification.....Oh well, another example why

we can't have nice things.

Andrew Lucero

Another sickening and senseless act of vandalism and destruction. Probably committed by some malcontent who found the sculpture “offensive”. But this is what happens when there are no consequences for this kind of behavior. the Mayor and the DA have set a very dangerous precedent. It will be interesting to see what happens to the culprit when they are caught. Will they be given any jail time or simply given “Restorative Justice”? Will they have to pay restitution to the artist and the gallery? Or will they walk away with a slap on the wrist like the others who have committed similar and “undeniable acts of violence” against our entire community?

I also find the gallery owners choice of words interesting… “The Solacii is an Afrofuturist expression of comfort and solace by a local artist of color, and its burning is an undeniable act of violence against the artist and a considerable cross section of their community." Gee, what about the Obelisk and the Kit Carson monument? What about the constant vandalism and desecration of the Cross of the Martyrs and the sculpture of Fry Angelico Chavez? Doesn’t the very same “undeniable act of violence” apply to those? Or does that cross section of the community not count? Why is it OK for a tiny group of activists to vandalize with impunity? We know who is responsible for those acts of vandalism and violence but they are protected by the mayor because they share his political views and objectives. There is another tiny committee that the mayor is trying to get off the ground. A handpicked group of loyal lackies who will ultimately decide and dictate to all of us, what art and monuments are acceptable. Artistic Freedom, Cultural or Historic Significance no longer matter or apply. That sure sounds a lot like neo-Stalinism too me… Just some food for thought during this sad and troublesome time in our city.

Khal Spencer

[thumbup]

Khal Spencer

Vandalism is vandalism, period. It all has to be prosecuted and condemned to the full extent of the law. Otherwise, its just a matter of everyone justifying their lawless acts on the basis of their politics.

Maria Bautista

Andrew, you covered it all. Period. This is the result of Webber's hate agenda. He ignited a cultural war, THE FIRST VANDAL.

Samuel Herrera

Well said. Thank you Andrew

Emilia Martinez

[thumbup]

A Ortega

Andrew, well said !!

Russell Scanlon

That’s a lot of assumptions based on the action of one random miscreant.

Martha Armijo

[thumbup]

KT Rivera

[thumbup]

Katherine Martinez

Thank you Andrew.

Stefanie Beninato

Andrew, you just rant on. The CHART process is not a handpicked group of loyal lackies. If you showed the initiative you could come to all three discussions and then you would have a say in the CHARTS process. And please do NOT tell me that the obelisk was a memorial to Hispanic culture. It is a civil war monument dedicated to ALL who fought on the Union side including any number of ethnic groups that many lump into Anglo as well as buffalo soldiers and NM volunteers.

Angel Ortiz

It was probably caused by faulty electrical wiring or perhaps extraterrestrials who did feel this was truly a piece of art. Santa Fe can be very mysterious.

Moses Townsend

It’s interesting it’s assumed it’s an act of violence against certain communities because the artist happens to be lgbtq and a person of color. I’m not saying it’s not a specific target or statement, but it could also just be a vandal/teenagers that are bored.

We live in a strange time where assumptions are made before evidence is provided. Identity is put to the forefront and lumped in as the reason for anything happening. It obviously is a reason many people do destructive or terrible things, but sometimes people are just destructive for no specific reason

Jitty Bap

Did you just ignore the gas can for fun?

Moses Townsend

…no? A gas can is a tool any punk can use to set stuff on fire. Is Santa Fe that old and detached from what teenagers like to do? Or was everyone here a mild mannered teenager that didn’t do anything vaguely chaotic?

Whatever the reasoning fueled the arsonist/s to do this, be it dumb teenagers or a bigot targeting the artist due to their identity, I’m assuming we will find out. It was just interesting in the article, the gallery spokesperson made assumptions it was a target against the artist due to their identity. Maybe they have evidence not listed in the article, but that’s quite quick to assume.

Khal Spencer

I agree that we don't know motive and a lot of people are begging the question. Until someone is arrested and interviewed, we don't know if it was a hate crime or a case of people simply behaving badly because, well, that's what some people do.

Richard Reinders

[thumbup]

Barry Rabkin

Restorative Justice to the rescue

Khal Spencer

I thought I saw some social workers doing an investigation.

Richard Irell

Disappointing to see a comment like this from someone as smart as you.

Khal Spencer

Political sarcasm. SFPD is still massively underfunded with numerous unfilled positions. I'm no fan of arson.

Emily Koyama

Liberals have no sense of humor.

Khal Spencer

I was wondering what that sculpture was all about. Only noticed it recently. Once again, the Vandals 1, the public 0.

Bill Cass

I assume they will get community service.

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