MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A Martinsburg artist who put a toilet on a pedestal built for a planned statue of the city's founder and attached a fake bill of sale for "a crappy work of art" has been charged with littering.
The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., says 42-year-old David Heatwole could be fined up to $500 if convicted at a May 2 hearing in Municipal Court.
Heatwole said he was trying to plead for more art in public places when he toted the toilet to the city square Wednesday and tied three purple, helium-filled balloons to its handle.
The display was up for about 20 minutes before three city workers removed it.
Heatwole said he would have come back to retrieve the toilet had he been told to do so.
The pedestal he used was built last year for a sculpture of Martinsburg's founder, Revolutionary War Maj. Gen. Adam Stephen, but plans for the statue are on hold.
"From what I've been able to tell, there were only a few people that weren't able to smile about it," Heatwole said. "Sorry for them."
Neither Mayor George Karos nor City Manager Mark Baldwin immediately returned phone messages Friday.
Heatwole had said he was trying to illustrate how art can make the Eastern Panhandle city a better place to work, live and visit. He's been pressing city officials to install a contemporary art sculpture on the pedestal rather than a historical monument.
He also is unveiling an 8- by 20-foot mural at Queen and Race streets on Saturday as part of the community's second "Paint the Town Purple" week. The events support the Berkeley County Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
The mural is covered in water-soluble paper that will dissolve and reveal the images as water balloons make contact.