In a surprise turn of events, the vandals who ransacked the Sculpture Space residency program in upstate New York this weekend are suspected to be a group of five children aged eight to 11 years old. They were charged with burglary in the third degree, petit larceny, criminal mischief, and criminal possession of stolen property.
The Utica Police Department said its officers arrested the minors on Sunday, August 28, after they were reported hurling rocks at cars in the lot of a local repair shop. Two major pieces of evidence implicated them in the vandalism of the residency: They were using bicycles that were stolen from Sculpture Space, and their shoes were soiled with paint that was “consistent with what had been spilled within Sculpture Space,” according to police.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Sculpture Space detailed the extent of the damage caused to its facilities. It includes destroyed and damaged works that were slated for an upcoming fundraiser, smashed windows, flooded bathrooms and hallways, graffiti, destroyed equipment and furniture, and more. According to Sculpture Space, the alleged vandals used studio materials — including sledgehammers, torches, and paint — to wreak havoc on the facilities. The police added that the suspects also took several hundred dollars from the space.
“We are deeply saddened with the horrific damage done to our facilities this weekend, and even more saddened by the young age of the vandals that did this,” Sculpture Space’s Executive Director Tom Montan told Hyperallergic in a statement. “But we are so grateful to our community that has rallied around and supported us through this very difficult time as we move forward to our annual art auction that helps fund almost half of our organization each year.”
Sculpture Space’s upcoming art auction will take place on September 24 and run through October 1. The organization has also set up an emergency Vandalism Recovery Fund, which has raised over $25,800 as of this writing.
The suspected vandals were not named due to their young age. They will appear at the Oneida County Probation Department in the near future, police said.