Mr. Wharton – 60 More Days

Mr. Wharton (post 1, 2, 3) appeared in court today about his art environment. The Huntsville Times reported in a ‘breaking news’ piece online that:

Wade Wharton, the southwest Huntsville man who transformed discarded materials into art, has received 60 more days to clean up his property.

For more than seven years, Wharton has been displaying his art on his property. Back in January, the City of Huntsville’s Department of Community Development cited Wharton for “junk.”

After a story about Wharton appeared in The Times on April 13, several people volunteered to help Wharton clean his property.

Wharton’s case is postponed until July 23.

Last week the Huntsville Times did a story about all the scrap material that Mr. Wharton was getting rid of. Mr. Wharton conceded that the city was right that he didn’t need as much as he had.

All kinds of things were listed as being thrown out. It’s easy to read about crutches and window frames being thrown out and wondering “what exactly was he going to do with that?” — but then remember, gosh, all the *junk* that Brother Zoettl used (bathroom floats, empty cosmetics jars, etc etc etc) in making Ave Maria Grotto:
Temple of the Fairies at Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman AL

…and Lonnie Holley who has been in exhibited in museums all over the country:
The Pointer Pointing the Way of Life on Earth, by Lonnie Holley

(This is called “The Pointer Pointing The Way Of Life On Earth”)

I guess the city would have cited Lonnie for a lawn jockey, chain, scrap wood, and various other ‘junk’. Until he put it together and it became a museum piece.

Or came up with something totally different and had it sell in a gallery for thousands of dollars.

Mr. Wharton’s problem is that his materials aren’t all in covered sheds so that they can’t be seen. Of course, if he thinks he has too much, it’s been a good exercise to pare down the excess. I’ve been thinking about how good it is that the city has been moving away from making comments about his art (remember the whole thing about how if Wharton’s junk is art then the landfill is a museum?) and instead focusing on a scrap material issue.

Although…in the article from last week, the Times writes:

At some point, Galloway said his department may have to go out to Wharton’s property and say what can stay (the art) and what must go (the piles of scrap metal).

Galloway said his department is going to be “very liberal” about what’s art.

But when will Wharton know if he’s in the clear with the Department of Community Development?

“We’ll tell him,” Galloway said.


The Department of Community Development is deciding that they are going to be “very liberal” about what is art. Maybe someone from the museum can go along and make sure.

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