Here’s a simple rule of life that might save you some heartache down the road: Expensive art and 5-year-olds don’t mix.
Not now. Not ever.
Come to think of it, 4-year-olds don’t do well with expensive art, either. Or 6- or 7-year-olds.
Nevertheless, a meeting between a little boy and highly fragile glass sculpture took place in May at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in south Overland Park with predictably disastrous results. The piece, “Aphrodite di Kansas City,” was part of a two-month-long juried art show that takes place each year.
This year’s exhibition ran from April 6 to June 10. It featured 158 pieces that ranged in price from the affordable, $80, to the lavish, $132,000.
As luck would have it, the glass sculpture in question turned out to be the $132,000 piece. It toppled to the ground after the 5-year-old boy appeared to give it a hug.
“Maybe my son hugged a torso because he’s a loving, sweet nice boy who just graduated from preschool,” mother Sarah Goodman told The Star.
The piece leaned forward rather precariously, and for a moment, the boy appeared to keep it upright.
In fact, a surveillance video showed that the boy alllllmost managed to get it back in place before it fell over, taking the boy down with it. He appeared stunned at first, then took off running when an adult sitting nearby came over to see what all the commotion was.
We might have done the same thing at that age.
There are lessons here if Overland Park opts to continue to traffic in the world of fine art (and it should). Parents need to keep a closer eye on their kids. That’s easy to say, sure. We remember what it’s like when kids are that age, particularly in a busy community center where all manner of activity is taking place. Yes, this incident took place in a community center, not a museum.
But, well, this is what can happen.
Second, artists need to do a better job of safeguarding their carefully crafted work. Kansas City artist Bill Lyons said he spent two years on the sculpture, which was the most ambitious piece he had ever undertaken. Lyons had a loan agreement with the city that stipulated that “floor sculptures ... must be independently stable.” That doesn’t appear to have been the case here.
Third, the city and the center’s staff should have done a better job cordoning off the area to prevent something like this from happening. After all, other pieces were protected, some by plexiglass. This one was exposed.
The good news here is that taxpayers weren’t on the hook for the damage. Goodman’s insurance company picked up the tab except for a $25,000 deductible. The artist will be compensated.
This one falls into the easily avoided category. We’re just glad the Goodmans’ son wasn’t injured and that Overland Park has another shot at getting this right.