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Tom Holmes, “Arc of History” featuring mini dinosaur additions (photo by @929thepoint/Instagram)

A public sculpture in Durango, Colorado, that has divided and entertained residents of the small town since its installation last August was destroyed earlier this week, and the vandal remains at large, according to the Durango Herald. A driver found “Arc of History” (2014), a curved stack of flat, natural rocks created by sculptor Tom Holmes, in pieces after an apparent pick ax or rock pick attack. Standing at the crossroads of US highways 550 and 160, “Arc of History” had regularly made local headlines for the strong opinions it elicited as well as a series of antics to embellish it that has turned it into a playful, local joke. Now that it’s destroyed, however, the town feels it has lost a significant source of community fun.

“Whoever destroyed the Arc destroyed the fun we were having as a community,” local resident Karen Zink told the Durango Herald. “The city and the police were very gracious about allowing us to have the fun.”

Mixed reactions to the sculpture, installed after Holmes won a public art contest, began to emerge soon after its unveiling. Many residents denounced its $28,000 price tag and questioned its aesthetic value. Sculptural edits also began appearing to enliven it, from a large dinosaur head placed over one of its extremities and a similar use of a dragon head to a large nest complete with eggs — which one of the world’s leading bird experts attempted to identify. An article about the public sculpture titled “What do you think of this art?” drew over 300 heated comments, and letters to the editor poured in, including one from a woman who called it a “powerful public work of art” and another from a man who said he was ready to pack up and leave for “a saner city.”

A Chinese New Year dragon hit placed on Tom Holmes’ “Arc of History” (photo by @durangoarts/Instagram)

Police officers are currently examining video footage for clues, but the search is ongoing. City officials are contemplating asking Holmes to create a new “Arc of History,” but some believe that the original work, with its rich history of community interaction and embellishment, is irreplaceable.

“I will miss it,” Durango Herald columnist Mike Smedley said. “It’s part of the local lore. The thing that was magical about the Arc was that it was a font for people’s creativity and a focal point for jokes and humor and good fun.”

Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...