Kansas City artwork valued at over $100K destroyed by drunk driver

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City police want to know who destroyed an expensive piece of public art near Bartle Hall.

City leaders told FOX4 a drunk driver smashed part of the ceramic Water Plaza collection. One local artist described this loss as “heartbreaking.”

The ruined piece alone is valued at $130,000.

Photos from Friday morning show what city workers discovered – a large pile of ceramic chunks where the ruined ceramic structure used to stand. The giant clay piece, which weighed roughly 1,500 pounds, was reduced to large broken eggshells. Workers told FOX4 that video of the crash exists, but municipal leaders won’t share it.

Water Plaza, which has seven outdoor pieces and one indoor painting, makes its home outside the Kansas City Convention Center. To reach the pedestal where the artwork stood, the driver had to drive down a set concrete steps near 16th and Central. Yellow caution tape still hangs from the metal hand railings, which are bent beyond use.

The artwork’s creators said the ceramic piece was designed to take impact, and shattering it like this required a very hard blow.

“It takes approximately two years to finish one of these pieces. I’m not sure what direction the Kansas City Art Commission is going to take,” said Susan Schonlau, who works for Jun Koneko Studios, the world renown ceramic artist behind Water Plaza.

Kansas City leaders commissioned the Water Plaza collection in 2006. It was part of the city’s One Percent for the Arts Program. Replacing it will take time, as well as more public money.

Hector Casanova, an artist who serves on Kansas City’s Municipal Art Commission, said the part that hurts the most is knowing that for centuries, major cities have been associated with the art they celebrate.

“We lost city property. We lost one of the things that makes Kansas City a cosmopolitan city. This was a culture treasure. This is something that reflects our maturity and our diversity. It’s more than just a pretty thing we lost,” Casanova said.

Kansas City Police also said that driver ran into a nearby building before hitting the ceramic art. He’ll face charges for both crashes. Police aren’t releasing his name.

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