Local vandals seem to have it in for art these days.
A day after the temporary public art program on State Street witnessed its third attack of defacement by vandals, somebody hurled a brick through the window of Sullivan Goss, a private gallery at 7 E. Anapamu St., about 1:15 a.m. Thursday.
Employees at the gallery say they believe that the vandalism was politically motivated.
The crime happened a day after the gallery opened an exhibit that makes a controversial political statement.
Called “The Aqueous Inquisitor,” the exhibit by regional artist Jeff Sanders features a fully functioning automated waterboarding machine set against the backdrop of an American flag, on which is written: “Great Nation Deserves Answers.”
“Whoever did it threw it with enough force to go through double-thick glass,” gallery director Jeremy Tessmer said.
Tessmer acknowledged that he has no proof the perpetrator knew about the controversial exhibit, which is in the back of the gallery and can’t be seen from the front window.
He said the last time the gallery encountered problems was two years ago, when artist John Nava created a similar statement about the war in Iraq.
His exhibit featured straight-faced adolescents wearing T-shirts and buttons emblazoned with messages such as “America Tortures” and “Stop the Dim Reaper.”
At the time, the gallery received numerous complaints in the form of letters, e-mails and phone calls, some of which contained threats. “People threatened our physical safety,” Tessmer said. “So maybe that colors our experience.”
Not one to back down, Tessmer marked the hole in the glass with an arrow and red lettering with the message: “Red Brick Thurs. 1:15 a.m. Coward’s Way.”
Meanwhile, on nearby State Street, vandals have defaced or destroyed three of the eight pieces that make up the biannual public State of the Art project.
On a positive note, someone offered Friday to donate materials to make one of the pieces whole again.
Local artists Matthew Woodford and Rafael Perea de la Cabada were crestfallen this week when they discovered that someone had cracked open one of the transparent plastic windows of their rectangular 10-foot-tall structure crammed with stuffed animals. The miscreant, who city officials speculate may have used a skateboard, made off with some of the dolls.
Called “Persistence of the Unnecessary,” the towering piece made of steel, wood and Plexiglas required the work of a construction crane to install, and is meant to partially resemble some of the storefronts on State Street.
On Thursday, after reading an article in Noozhawk, businessman Bill Lever came to their aid, Cabada said. Lever, the owner of Bakersfield Plastics and a resident of Santa Barbara, told the artists he would bring them new transparent plastic, Cabada said.
Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.