The 6-foot-high, 4-foot-long bovine-on-wheels — named Sally after local photographer and cancer patient Sally Clark — had been rolled out each day for the past two weeks to accompany the Curbside Coffee cart on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. At night, it was pastured in the safety of the nearby Logos Books & Records store.
That is, until Saturday, when a teenage coffee cart employee forgot to put the cow inside when she closed up shop at 7 p.m.
The girl returned to work Sunday morning and found firefighters cleaning up what was left of the cow a few doors down on Pacific Avenue in front of the Catalyst Nightclub.
“Apparently, some kids beat it to a pulp,” said Curbside Coffee owner Beverly Aviet, who had persuaded artist Kirby Scudder to create the cow in support of Clark, who is her best friend and is battling brain and spinal cancer. “They rolled it down to the Catalyst, a local club, and then put it on fire.”
Santa Cruz police Sgt. Mike Conner said police know little more about the vandalism.
Aviet had sold about 50 raffle tickets at $5 each, and now she and Scudder are trying to figure out what to do with the money.
The cow was made to publicize a larger fund-raiser for Clark to be held Sept. 25 in Ben Lomond.
Scudder said he suspects that local kids destroyed his creation. It was the second time, he said, that the cow had sustained damage at their hands. Early on in the cow’s display, a 13-year-old boy walked up and punched it, requiring Scudder to perform a nose job.
Aviet said Clark has lived with her cancer for 25 years and that the hospital bills were becoming more than she could afford.
“She hopes this isn’t a portent of things to come for her,” she said. “Who would be so malicious?”
Scudder said that he doesn’t think he’ll have time to build another cow — Sally took two weeks — by the time the fund-raiser rolls around.
The cow was a smaller version of ones Scudder is building as part of KowHaus, a five-month installation project at the future site of the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz. Now, he said, he fears for those cows as well.
“I certainly didn’t expect this would happen,” said Scudder, co-founder of the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts. “They were beating the crap out of that cow.”