LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — Having the opportunity to paint a Horse Mania sculpture is a big deal for local artists like Sarah Heller.
"There is such a wealth of local artists that everyone is excited to do a horse," said Heller.
When she got a call Saturday night that the horse she painted had been vandalized, she took it personally.
"I felt personally offended by this," said the artist.
The horse, named Athens of the West, is one of two sculptures that was tipped over in the middle of the night, leaving the statue cracked and busted in several places.
Heller told LEX18 that she's now protecting the artwork from further destruction. Painting a new message on the trash bag that now covers her horse, passersby will see the message, "Protect Public Art."
"These are super important and we cant just treat these like play toys," said Heller.
Rebecca Cox and her husband own the nearby Athenian Grill. The duo spent more than $7,000 sponsoring the horse.
"To not be able to have the horse out for the full time of the event is a loss for us," explained Cox.
As for the other vandalized horse, "The Story of Cill Dara," LexArt officials tell LEX18 that the damage cuts deeper than anything one can see on the surface.
"When we have this damage, this intentional damage to these horses, it really takes away from the program, unfortunately," said CEO and director of LexArts Ame Sweetall.
According to Sweetall, this is the third time in 2022 that a Horse Mania statue has been intentionally damaged. In July, one horse statue was found decapitated.
Heller is confident that she can fix her sculpture, but she's uncertain about putting it back on display.
"I can, but I am not sure if I want to at this point, and other artists feel the same way," said Heller.
In the meantime, she hopes people won't take public art for granted. "This is a privilege, and we should treat it as such."
Lexington PD has opened an investigation into the vandalism.