Renzi artwork vandalized after surviving structure fire in Fresno

Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Renzi artwork vandalized after surviving structure fire
City officials are optimistic that the graffiti can be removed.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More questions surround the fate of a treasured work of art by a local artist.

A fire wiped out the abandoned Fagbule Glass House in Central Fresno last month.

The three-story building was demolished, but the artwork by Clement Renzi installed on one of the exterior walls was preserved.

"Heartbreak and disappointment," said Fresno Arts Council board member Bruce Kalkowski.

That is how he feels when he looks at the condition of this Renzi's 'A Day in the Park.'

Last month, it narrowly survived when the building burned.

In the days that followed, the art community contemplated how the artwork might be relocated. But before plans could be made, it sustained further damage.

Taggers vandalized the 288-piece terracotta work.

Jennifer Renzi, daughter of the artist, was devastated to learn what had happened to a piece of her dad's legacy. She remembers when he created it in his backyard studio.

"I miss him every single day, but I am so glad that he cannot see this," she said. "Because you know it was his soul and that was his life that he put into that."

Renzi passed away in 2009 but his works live on across California-particularly in his native Central Valley: in downtown Fresno along Fulton Street and in front of The Selland Arena.

His daughter worries about the fate of the very public pieces.

"Whether it's cameras or enclosures or bringing them inside," said Jenifer Renzi. "He has got a lot of pieces. He has something like 50 or 60 public works."

Kalkowski says the local art community is motivated to repair the damage and get the artwork relocated, even willing to raise money for associated costs.

But the piece still belongs to the owner of the building.

"People that have volunteered to store it. People who have volunteered to transport it. The demolition company, they volunteered to use their equipment," said Kalkowski.

"To take it off the wall and move it."

Prior to the tagging, city officials said they were working closely with the owner, contractors, and demolition crews to keep the art in one piece and potentially find it a new home.

Renzi hopes her dad's piece can be salvaged and put in a place the community can take pride in.

"I hope there could be a balance struck between taking care of them and making them available the way that they were meant to be for the public to enjoy," she said.

Fresno City Attorney Andrew Janz tells Action News that the owner of the building has continued to work with the city to find a solution.

The city is waiting on a contractor to designate this site as safe.

Then, the artwork will need to be inspected to determine the best way to move it. City officials are optimistic that the graffiti can be removed.

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