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Charles Village Toilet Art Generates Controversy

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The last time a piece of public art in Baltimore generated this much controversy was when the man-woman sculpture was unveiled in front of Penn Station.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, Charles Village is talking about the newest piece to turn up in the middle of their quiet neighborhood.

It’s an art installation.

“I love it!” said Charles Village resident Irene Donnelly.

“Yeah, it’s definitely an eye-catcher,” said another.

“I like it! I think it gives the neighborhood some character,” Tim Phillips, another Charles Village resident said.

Fifty pounds of porcelain is in the middle of a new traffic circle.

Donnelly: “I work for the Contemporary Art Museum in Baltimore.”
Schuh: “So if anyone can judge this as art, it might be you?”
Donnelly: “Very well. Yeah.”

So is it art?

“I think we’re referencing Duchamp, referencing ready-mades,” Donnelly said.

Schuh: “So what is it about this piece that speaks to you?”
Charles Village resident Alex Greenland: “I think what makes it is the champagne bottle at the side.”

Obviously a reference to the brandy left downtown at Edgar Allan Poe’s grave.

This circle is unloved. Is it a protest?

“When I turned on Barclay Street and saw this, I cracked up.”

The neighborhood association sent two guys to remove it, a neighbor talked them out of it.

“I’ve actually told them not to, not that I have any authority. But come on– it’s not hurting anybody,” said one neighbor.

But this neighbor disagrees.

“This to me is disrespectful. The city is full of enough garbage as it is,” Malique Ma’Mumit said.

Maybe, but it’s an instant attraction.

“You could call that dumping if you wanted to, or you could call that art,” Linda Forlifer said.

What if the artist could tell us?

Schuh: “Why are you wearing a mask?”
Artist: “I’m wearing a mask because I don’t want to be identified.”

He says a hefty fine for littering scares him.

Schuh: “Is this protest, art or prank?”
Artist: “It is all the above, sir. I just did it for the people.”

Installations may be temporary but memories last forever.

The city considers the installation trash and says a city crew will remove it once they get a complaint. It is located at 32nd Street and Guilford Avenue.

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