Ted Pelkey has put the town of Westford on the US’ artistic map, with a nearly 320 kg wooden “F*** You” sculpture that now greets drivers in Vermont. The 54-year-old local insists that he meant no offence to fellow residents, who are “very good people”, except the town’s officials and the Westford Selectboard, in particular the Development Review Board, the website Boston.com reports.
“It was critical to me to make sure that my neighbours and the people who live in this town understood that I didn’t put that up there for them. It is aimed directly at the people who sit in our town office”, he said.
He took to the power of art after repeatedly failing in a 10-year-long legal battle with town authorities over building permission. The officials rejected several applications from Pelkey, who wanted to build a garage on his lawn close to his home and relocate his truck repair business from a nearby town. As the dispute continued into the autumn, his frustration found a release in artistic form.
“I was sitting at a bar and said to my wife, ‘Hey, I want to get a statue made of a middle finger, and I’m going to put it up on the lawn'”, he told the website.
The platform, located in his yard, and a giant sculpture, illuminated with floodlights, cost the man $4,000. Although the entrepreneur was sure that his creation would be taken down, town officials seem to be struggling to come up with a reason for its demolition.
On the one hand, the structure fall under Vermont’s ban on “off-premise advertising signs”, as it doesn’t advertise the man’s business. On the other hand, the sculpture of the age-old gesture could be defined as public art and protected as an expression of free speech.
The installation immediately caught national attention. Many praised the idea or drew parallels.
It's what we all should do!— Veterans Resisting Criminal Democrats (@OATH101stUSARMY) 4 декабря 2018 г.
A man in Vermont built a $4,000 massive sculpture of a middle finger and pointed it right at his local government.— Caleb Hull 🎅🏼🌲🎁 (@CalebJHull) 4 декабря 2018 г.
Ron Swanson exists, guys. pic.twitter.com/05OQmaHE2q
It even inspired some netizens, who suggested launching a franchise and sharing their ideas about where else the sign should be placed.
Oh I was just watching CNN and there is a giant middle finger sculpture in— Tony Shephard (@TonyShephard_) 11 декабря 2018 г.
Westford, Vermont I would love to buy that so I can stick it right out in front of the White House pic.twitter.com/Qs44xtUOeC
Although his protest got into the national spotlight, it would hardly have an impact on the legal process involving the beginning artist, whose next court hearings are scheduled for January. According to town officials cited by Boston.com, his act has not made the process “any more (or less) efficiently … but they sure can make the process more challenging for all involved.”