Arts and Culture

Art vandalism or vandalism as art? Four pranks that made us smile -- unlike Carmen Tisch

Some acts of art vandalism are clearly inspired by outrage. Take, for example, El Dildo Bandito, the nom de guerre of a man who stole 22 ceramic penises from an art display in Boulder. Others are inspired by drunkenness, as may have been the case with Carmen Tisch, charged with scratching and hitting a $30 million painting at the new Clyfford Still Museum before urinating on the floor.

Still other art vandalism seems to be born of whimsy and a love of pranks. Here, we present four acts of art-vandalism-as-art.

4. "My manly tool swathed in crochet" Last January, the ladies of the Ladies Fancywork Society, a group of street-artist crocheters responsible for several large-scale projects around town, took it upon themselves to warm the pickaxe of a certain cold miner -- George Carlson's "Early Day Miner," to be exact -- in Washington Park. Our favorite part about this art-vandalism-as-art is that it inspired more art, in the form of a poem that ends with the line above. 3. The dancing aliens poop their (non-existent) pants Whether or not this qualifies as art depends on whether you think fart jokes are hilarious. In 2006, an unidentified mischief-maker smeared red-brown paint in the crotch of one of Jonathan Borofsky's "Dancers" -- the giant aliens outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Several days of rain prevented the splotch from being painted over right away. 2. 1,000 short-lived paper cranes for Japan In March, art student Talia Kauk hung a thousand rainbow-colored paper cranes from trees outside the Denver Art Museum. The unauthorized display was meant to encourage passersby to donate to the tsunami relief effort in Japan. But the art museum wasn't moved. It snipped Kauk's strings and threw her cranes in the trash. 1. The big blue bear gets (yarn)bombed No. 1 on our list is also courtesy of the Ladies Fancywork Society. In April, the guerilla knitters shackled Lawrence Argent's "I See What You Mean" -- better known as the big blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center -- with a big blue ball of yarn. The feat earned a nod in the New York Times, but the convention center was less amused. Several workers hauled the yarn-y ball-and-chain away in a golf cart in the wee hours of the morning it was erected, before most passersby could get a look.

Follow us on Twitter!

Like us on Facebook!

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar