AUBURN – Leslie Clark of Auburn Arts and Events described recent vandalism to a public art sculpture as disheartening and her telephone call to inform the artist about the damage as dire, but she says the arts movement in the county is still gaining momentum.

The damaged sculpture is one of 27 that was designed and painted by artists in 2019 and placed in visible, outdoor locations in six of Nemaha County’s communities. When the pandemic led to restrictions on indoor gatherings, Honeybees in the Heartland became a popular Nebraska Passport destination.

Clark: “We know that art is really an economic driver. Again, it brings a source of joy and an artistic spirit and creativity and entrepreneurs. We wanted to continue with that. It was a springboard. You don’t just come with one idea, you come with a plethora of ideas.”



Auburn followed up on the public art project with the Auburn Strokes Plein Air Paint Out, the Summer Sounds Concert Series, Auburn Uniqueness Mural Series and even light pole banners featuring the honeybee art.

Clark called the vandalism to the Bee Casso located at the recreation complex a blow to the artistic spirit.

Clark: “They are really saddened, disheartened, little bit angry and justifiably so because, again, those art sculptures are sources of joy not just for our community but our visitors.”

Clark: “In seeing those bees damaged, you’re not just damaging a sculpture, but a community creative spirit.”



Clark, Auburn’s Chamber of Commerce director, was part of a Nemaha County Leadership Class that proposed the public art project and chose the honeybee as its focus. They later learned that Auburn teacher Mrs. Louise Howe and her third grade class had launched a successful campaign years earlier to make the honeybee Nebraska’s state insect.

She said the project tapped into an artistic underpinning that already existed in the community. She is asking residents to help protect the sculptures.

Clark: “I know sometimes we don’t want necessarily to get involved but it’s okay to say ‘hey, that’s not right.’ Again, because we’re watching out for each other.”

Clark: “You know the arts bring people together. Music brings people together, enjoying the beauty and creativity of any art endeavor and that’s what we want. We see it. We see it happening for our community. We see it for visitors. People see things on social media and call and say we’d like to do that too. How did you do that? “

The city has recently published a Honeybees in the Heartland map and Clark says an additional public art project may be in the works.