Fountain of waste
An East Village artwork lifts a leg in a humorous salute to dogs
Fri Jan 21 2005
Art is a powerful thing. So maybe this piece of art will move people to take a plastic bag with them when they walk their dog.
Shit Fountain was installed in July in front of a residence at 1001 North Wolcott Avenue at Augusta. Atop a three-foot-high column of concrete and sandstone sits a coiled mound of bronze immediately recognizable as a pile of dog crap.
The Duchampian fountain was created by Chicago artist Jerzy S. Kenar, internationally known for his religious sculpture and liturgical furnishings, such as the holy water font at Loyola University's Madonna della Strada Chapel. His secular works include numerous wood sculptures at O'Hare and the granite Black History Fountain at Renaissance Park on the South Side.
"This [work] is dedicated to all the dogs in the neighborhood," says Kenar, who owns the building and the neighboring Wooden Gallery. Kenar and other East Village residents are peeved about locals who don't clean up after their dogs, a problem that prompted Ald. Manuel "Manny" Flores (1st) to pass out wooden boxes containing "mutt mitts" (disposable plastic gloves for picking up dog droppings) to community groups to install where they see fit.
"I have flowers in front of the gallery, and someone [will be] walking their dog and the dog is jumping there...and shitting there and someone is not picking [it] up," says Kenar, a dog lover (and pit bull owner) who says he created the fountain to be ironic and humorous—not "to fight with somebody." He unveiled the work at his Fourth of July party and said he may install a plaque dedicating it to the neighborhood's dogs.
Kenar says no one has complained to him about the fountain, which is placed on private property, but observers typically have a layered response.
"We're trying to make this neighborhood beautiful and he puts up a shit fountain?" says resident Jeanne Felknor, whose garden club has installed plants on more than 150 East Village parkways. "But I must say, after I [saw it], I laughed all the way home." —Jack Bess