Woman faces arson charges over Civic Center Park fire that burned “Tree of Transformation” artwork

Woman faces arson charges over Civic Center Park fire that burned “Tree of Transformation” artwork

Denver Fire Department investigators have arrested a woman in connection with a fire set in Civic Center park Wednesday morning that damaged an interactive art installation.

Amanda Marie Failla, 28, was picked up by Denver Police Department officers after they recognized her near the park Wednesday evening, according to a news release.

Amanda Marie Failla
Amanda Marie Failla

Failla has a criminal record in Colorado including being found guilty of harassment multiple times, drug possession and obstructing police, according to court documents. In April, Failla was arrested on a charge of private property damage.

Failla faces second-degree arson charges in connection to the damage of the art installation, according to Denver Fire Department spokesman Greg Pixley.

According to a probable cause statement obtained by Denver7, when investigators interviewed Failla, she denied setting the installation on fire “but stated she may have caused the fires as a result of throwing a cigarette butt in the trash.”

The artwork, titled “Tree of Transformation,” featured a tree-like structure sprouting from the top of a functional, weatherized piano.

The apparent vandalism was at least the fifth — and most debilitating — episode suffered by the art piece since March, said Eric Lazzari, director of operations for the Civic Center Conservancy.

He said past incidents typically involved “what looks like a baseball bat being taken to it several times,” he said. Each time, the piece was repaired. After one incident, the piano’s keyboard had to be replaced.

In the most recent incident two or three weeks ago, Lazzari said, police caught a vandal in the act.

This time, repairs and reinstallation aren’t likely. “Tree of Transformation” was near its scheduled retirement date, so Lazzari said the conservancy likely would remove the piece while it makes plans for the next public art installation. The piano piece was the first to be installed as part of the new program.

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