Art is in the eye of the beholder. So is trash.
That's the sense you get from talking to both sides in a misunderstanding over a political piece of sculpture imprudently placed on a state highway right of way just east of town."We didn't know what it was," insisted Tyler Page, the station foreman for the Utah Department of Transportation at nearby Kamas.
"I wouldn't have sold the piece for less than $2,500," countered a Park City artist who goes only by the name of Zafod and is even listed in the phone book under `Z.'
Zafod, in fact, got a $500 grant from the Park City Arts Council to build a work titled "Abandon Your Chariots of Fire" that offers a not-so-subtle message on the evils of internal-combustion transportation. Its foundation was made from the compacted bodies of three old Subarus that Zafod drove over the years. It was topped with a delicate metal rendition of the earth being traversed by a spindly, solo bicyclist.
Zafod put the work next to U-248 on an old rail bed turned bike path west of U.S. 40, but also smack in the middle of the 30-foot right of way UDOT claims on the highway.
It mystified road workers, said Page, who checked with UDOT's permit division and found no record of permission, consulted with higher-ups and had a crew take it to the dump within a few days of its appearance.
"We did with it just like we do with political signs," said Page, adding that UDOT considers objects within its rights of way as safety hazards.
And while Zafod admits he didn't put it far enough off the road, he said UDOT should've at least called him.
"My name was on it," said theartist, who scrambled to the county landfill to recover what he could.
Zafod said this weekend he will put the pieces he could recover back near the site of the original work, as a sort of memorial to the first piece. It will include the twisted globe from the first version, plus a plastic-laminated poem taking UDOT to task.
And Zafod said he was comforted this week when a local roughneck stopped by to say he said he missed the sculpture and wished it were still around.
"This was your basic oil-field construction redneck and he just wanted to know what had happened and where it had gone," Zafod said. "It actually was a hit with the populace."