Update: The Seattle Parks Department removed the machine gun tonight after seeing story in the media. “We made the decision to take it out ASAP,” it said. The story began on Wallingford’s neighborhood blogs and quickly spread to KING, KIRO and our partner The Seattle Times.
“I am relieved,” says Jeanne. “I had no idea they would respond so quickly.”
Earlier: Visitors to Meridian Park were surprised to see a mysterious addition welded on one of the child-themed statues ringing the playground: a machine gun. The statue is right at the northeastern entrance — one of several statues, like a train engine and a child on stilts, created by artist Pat Maher.
“I feel so demoralized,” tweeted Jeanne, who helped commission Maher for the original work. “We worked hard on renovating that park and playground and getting input from neighborhood. Sculptures were charming.”
Jeanne says she spoke to Seattle Police, and the officer told her no crime has been committed. “He told me this wasn’t vandalism. That just because I didn’t like it didn’t mean it was a crime,” she said.
We’ve heard from several neighbors, including Charles in comments, that the original arm on the statue was missing.
A letter from a man claiming to be the rogue artist explains a little about his motive. “I’ve re-armed your sailor boy sculpture that has was damaged and disintegrating at Meridian Playground by my house. I thought my addition was great, a bit tongue in cheek but a nice addition.” The rest of the letter goes on to ridicule Jeanne.
We spoke to several neighbors at the playground this morning. “It’s depressing,” said one mom, but others had a different view. “I think rogue art is cool,” said a dad, who joked that someone should write “Seal Team 6” on the sculpture. Another woman pointed out that the sculpture is at adult height. “Are kids going to look up there and say, ‘oh my gosh there’s a gun?'” she asked.
We’ve reached out to Maher for his reaction, and police as well (since it’s a holiday weekend, we may not hear until Tuesday.) In the meantime, here are a few of the tweets from Jeanne (@fourchickens), and please leave your thoughts in comments below. Is it vandalism? Or art?