Vandals hit the Chauvin sculpture garden, a monument in the Houma region
Someone has vandalized one of Terrebonne Parish’s most recognizable landmarks, the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, keepers say.
Gary LaFleur, director of the Center for Bayou Studies at Nicholls State University, said he believed the vandalism occurred between July 11 and July 15.
Three of the concrete sculptures were broken and one is missing, LaFleur said.
“The one that hurts everyone’s feelings the most is this sculpture of a little girl, kinda cute, we call her ‘Girl in a White Dress,'” he said. “The vandals kind of pushed her and knocked her out of her place so that she fell into the grass.”
Owned by Nicholls, the garden was created by self-taught artist Kenny Hill when he moved to Chauvin in 1988. A mason by trade, Hill created over 100 concrete statues along Bayou Little Caillou before moving away of his art and home about a decade later. Described as a recluse, he left no trace of his whereabouts, but approximately 10,000 visitors annually visit the menagerie of angels, Cajuns, self-portraits and other figures he left behind at 5337 Bayouside. Drive.
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Artists were already at work repairing the damage Hurricane Ida inflicted on the Sculpture Garden in August.
LaFleur estimates that this month’s vandalism caused about $23,000 in damage.
A sculpture of a woman standing in a waterfall suffered the most damage. A hard blow shattered a leg and knocked the statue to the ground, bending the rebar that held it upright.
“That one looked the most violent, in a way, it looked like they took a hammer and hit her as hard as they could,” LaFleur said. “They broke a leg and she fell.”
Years ago, before the garden was better known, this sculpture, along with the girl in the white dress, were each valued at $10,000, he said.
Pricing art can be tricky, and the garden has grown in popularity since that estimate was made, LaFleur said. But the dollar value does not fully quantify what has been lost.
Lafleur did a quick fix on the girl in the white dress. The only broken part was where it was mounted, so he was able to put the sculpture back in place.
Vandals also damaged a sculpture of an angel holding an amber globe. The angel was displayed several feet off the ground and the globe the same way the Statue of Liberty holds her torch.
The globe came from a lantern inside Hill’s home, LaFleur said. It was a type of amber bulb found in the 1960s and 1970s.
Some artwork by Nicholls students is on display in the garden, and a seahorse on a long metal pole is the missing piece. Made of composite metal, it weighs approximately 100 pounds.
The Terrebonne sheriff’s office is investigating.