New sculpture honoring Caldor first responders placed in front of Cowork Tahoe

The new sculpture was placed nearly three months after the original piece was destroyed.
Provided/Jamie Orr

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A new sculpture, commemorating those who fought the Caldor Fire, has been erected in front of the CoWork Tahoe building, after vandals destroyed the previous art piece.

On Friday, Oct. 8, nearly three months after the original piece was broken apart, sculptor Malcolm Tibbetts erected his new piece, called “Heroes.”

Malcolm Tibbetts and Kenny Curtzwiler installing the new piece.
Provided/Jamie Orr

“When it was destroyed, I was absolutely devastated by it,” said David Orr, CoWork co-founder. “It was really tough seeing such a beautiful piece get carelessly destroyed. I will never forget approaching Malcolm with the bad news that his sculpture had yet again been vandalized (It was also vandalized at Burning Man).”

“It was disappointing but based on my life experience, not surprising,” Tibbetts said.

While Orr and Tibbetts had discussed replacing the piece, they were having a hard time sourcing the wood.

“Fortunately for us, and for Malcolm, Kenny Curtzwiler was working hard in the background to source the wood,” Orr said. “Kenny was able to find the wood in Santa Cruz, drove down there, and then donated the wood to Malcolm to recreate the sculpture.”

Curtzwiler is a local arborist who is passionate about giving back to the community. He told the Tribune that he had a vision of getting cedar for the project but was only able to get redwood, which Tibbetts said would work.

“Before the fire, I had planned on replacing the piece, but the fire gave me the thought of honoring all the organizations that saved our homes and businesses,” Tibbetts said, adding that the piece is meant to be a “feel good project.”

“Heroes,” is an orderly tangle of wood pieces with plaques displacing the organizations and names of first responders that saved the community.

Orr tracked down nearly 300 names and organizations.
Provided/Jamie Orr

Orr began tracking down the names using the city of South Lake Tahoe for help, and found a little over 300. Tibbetts said there may be missing names but there is plenty of room for more plaques if more people come forward.

Ed Cook Tree Service donated use of the crane, Curtzwiler donated use of a truck, and together they got it to the property and installed it.

Ed Cook donated the use of a crane and Curtzwiler donated his truck for the installation.
Provided/Jamie Orr

“That right there, makes me personally feel pretty great living here in Tahoe. This is a community where we help each other, and that puts a smile on my face,” Orr said.

“Even more significant is the metaphor that this piece represents to me. Kintsugi – the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold,” Orr added. “Or in philosophical terms, you take what is broken, and you make something better than it was before. This seems to apply here. It could be taken as a metaphor for our community’s experience with the Caldor Fire (I’m including the western slope in this). While things may break or burn, there is opportunity to build something better if you have the courage to try. In the case of Malcolm, he had the courage to do exactly that.”

Laney Griffo is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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