Michigan township rejects artist's piece made from trash

Posted at 8:25 PM, Aug 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-31 21:06:00-04

BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A central Michigan township is trying to remove an art installation made out of trash from a private property that's half a mile away from the town's planned art sale for recycling discarded materials.

Bath Township is encouraging artists to transform unwanted products into creative pieces in a "Trash to Treasure" art contest. The artwork will be sold Oct. 6 to raise scholarship money, the Lansing State Journal reported .

But officials are simultaneously trying to remove Robert Park's outdoor installation called "The Blue Loop," which features blue-colored pieces of found objects, trash and surplus items.

Township officials and some neighbors have called it junk, but Park calls it art.

"It's my way of expressing myself," he said.

The conflict landed in court last week after the township cited Park for violating the anti-junk ordinance.

Park said he thought cleaning up his yard would satisfy township authorities. But officials are pressing ahead with the violation, saying residents have called the 1,000-foot-long (305-meter-long) installation an eyesore.

"The township has a legitimate government interest in removing blight," said Chris Patterson, the township's attorney.

Park's attorney, William Metros, said the case should be dismissed because it violates Park's right to due process and his right to express himself.

"This is his private home," Metros said.

The case has attracted a growing group of artists and professors who attended the hearing to support him. The use of recycled materials and landscapes as a backdrop have long traditions in the art industry, and using trash is a popular method to emphasize consumerism, said Howard Bossen, a photography professor at Michigan State University.

"You have a lot of artists that have begun to use recycled materials," he said.

The next hearing on the case is set for Oct. 31.