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UPDATED: 'Gaea' sculpture vandalized Tuesday night

The abdomen of the "Gaea" beaver statue was vandalized with black paint Tuesday night. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren1 / 2
Bemidji police officers investigate the spray-painting on the front of the "Gaea" beaver sculpture late Tuesday night in downtown Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Laurie Swenson2 / 2

"Gaea," the controversial beaver sculpture, was vandalized Tuesday night, but quickly cleaned up and returned to normal.

The Bemidji Police Department received an anonymous phone call at 11:12 p.m. saying that the sculpture had been defaced with black spray paint.

The spray paint covered what artist Deborah A. Davis has said are the hands of a praying woman.

"Gaea," one of 11 beaver sculptures, became a local discussion point last month when the sculpture was removed by City Manager John Chattin over concerns about what was depicted on its abdomen.

While Davis has said the front of the sculpture shows Mother Earth praying and the circles are roses coming forth from her hands, others have viewed the sculpture differently, seeing, instead, a portion of the female anatomy.

The Bemidji City Council on July 6 voted unanimously to have the sculpture returned to public view at the intersection of Fourth Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest.

At the time, Davis voiced concerns that the sculpture would be vandalized.

Police arrived on the site after 11 p.m. Tuesday and found the paint to be "tacky" to the touch, according to a police report. No spray paint can was found.

Police Chief Gerald Johnson said Wednesday that there are no suspects in the incident.

The sculpture was quickly cleaned.

Davis, in an e-mail sent at 12:35 a.m., said she and Jeremy Anway, a Bemidji artist, repaired the sculpture.

Davis said she was notified via Facebook about the vandalism.