Vandals damage bear and his healing process
Journal & Courier, May 14, 2015
By Deomenica Bongiovanni
The artist patched up the vandalized statue, adding a bandage to hold the fresh adhesive, get-well-soon card and thank-you note — but those were later removed.
Artist Nicole Paraskevas' responded to vandalism with a healthy dose of humor, an "aww" moment and a fresh layer of engagement with public art.
And while her efforts delighted community members, they were wiped away shortly after.
The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette notified Paraskevas last week that a few chains on "Motley Pooh — " who's part of "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" — were loosened, she said. She checked it out and noticed the damage getting worse over the next several days. As it ended up, she said the vandalism was minor — mostly out-of-place accessories on the bear's head and by its foot. But as it got worse, she realized something needed to be done soon if the bear is to be ready for Gallery Walk on Friday.
Rain and humidity prevented Paraskevas from re-adhering the chains and letting them cure over the weekend, she said, so she set out Tuesday armed with more than just art materials to the animal's home on State Street by Scotty's Brewhouse on Wabash Landing.
After repairing "Motley Pooh," she wrapped up its head with a bandage splashed with red food coloring. A note thanking Dr. Feelgood — a nod to the Mötley Crüe song — written from the bear's perspective accompanied a get-well-soon card signed by Winnie the Pooh's friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, including Piglet and Eeyore. To sell the idea, she wrote the bear's letter with her left hand and used different ink colors on the card.
"I wanted to incorporate his repair process as part of the art work," Paraskevas said. "So I thought the bandage was a good way to protect the area while it was being repaired and explain its temporary injury till he's back to normal, which should be in a day or so."
The cards complement the bear's back story, which is an outgrowth of the famous children's book, Paraskevas said. When Christopher Robin went to college, Pooh joined a band called Electric Honey to fill up his new-found free time. In between tours, he stayed true to his roots — even if his appearance had changed — and visited his beloved friends in the woods.
By midday Wednesday, the bandage was gone and so were the cards. Only a few strips of white tape that held the chains in place were left from the fixes. Paraskevas, who didn't know the latest development until told by the Journal & Courier, said she planned on visiting the bear again to take a look.
"I know how much I put into mine and I can imagine how much everyone else did, so it can be disappointing," she said, "but ... you just have to repair it or you just have to keep moving forward because a lot of people are really enjoying them."
Paraskevas, who works in multiple artistic mediums, said she knew people would want to touch and climb on the bear — she even saw one person try to push the accessories on it — so she planned her embellishments accordingly. The artist used a strong adhesive to glue on chains, pennies and other trinkets.
Paraskevas said "Motley Pooh" is the first animal she's done for the museum. She loved the process of decorating the bear and relishes the imprint the exhibit is leaving on the community. Even with everything that's happened so far, she said she wants to do more.