For several years now, the Canton, OH Arts District has been home to a rhinoceros. Not a live one, but a sculptural one made from recycled tires.
The Rhino was created by artist Patrick Buckhor and was placed in the Arts District early in the redevelopment of Canton’s downtown. Public art was one of the primary steps in developing the Arts District.
It took a few years for the Arts District to become popular with the general public. Artists and arts enthusiasts have celebrated it from the beginning, but only recently has it grown in popularity with people not actively involved in arts activities.
An incident that occurred this week, however, demonstrated that, not only has it become popular, people have grown to love it as their own.
Someone vandalized the Rhino.
It’s not clear if this was a deliberate act. It could have been a drunk driver crashing into it or skateboarders using it as a launch (I’ve seen them try). Whatever happened, someone knocked it over with reckless disregard and caused it considerable damage.
Other artworks have been vandalized with little notice in Canton. I have had to repair some of my own pieces. But the damage to the Rhino did not go unnoticed.
Instead, a public outcry on social media has risen in response. Some community members have volunteered to fix it. Not only were people upset that an artwork was maliciously harmed, they took it as a personal insult. Someone hurt THEIR RHINO.
For a community to take such ownership of their public art is the lofty goal of every artist and every arts leader. Although I deplore the act of violence against the sculpture, I celebrate the community’s outpouring of support for the artwork.
Luckily, the Rhino was not damaged beyond repair. Repairs are planned this week by ArtsinStark and it will be on display in its regular spot at 4th St. NW and Cleveland Ave. for First Friday this week.
Well done, Canton. Although one fool may have acted maliciously, so many more have shown us what community is all about. That is every artist’s dream.
Life is an Adventure!