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Zoom In: East Village 

Jerzy Kenar's Shit Fountain serves as a reminder for neighborhood dog owners.

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Jerzy Kenar's Shit Fountain is one statue that’s unquestionably a piece of crap.

Jerzy Kenar's Shit Fountain is one statue that’s unquestionably a piece of crap.

Alex Friedland

For nearly a decade a monument to dog waste has been prominently displayed at the corner of Wolcott and Augusta as a reminder to residents to pick up after their pooches. Polish-American artist Jerzy Kenar, whose work has graced Saint Constance Church and the Holy Trinity Polish Mission, had too many instances of stepping out of his house to find dog shit in his front garden. These fecal misfortunes inspired him to create Shit Fountain, a dookie-shaped coil of bronze atop a cement column.

Despite its unseemly subject matter, the sculpture sparks joy and conversation in East Village, Kenar says, and it seems to have improved the habits of dog owners in the neighborhood. Water dribbling over the top gives the figure a lifelike, freshly dropped glisten—another sign of Kenar's craftsmanship in service of his impish sense of humor. Passersby have been known to pose for photos drinking from the fountain or suggestively squatting above it.

In his more serious works Kenar tackles themes such as the American dream and national unity. Still, he takes great pride in the frivolity of Shit Fountain. "I think this is the most popular fountain in Chicago," he says with a chuckle.

As for those who think the work stinks, well, Kenar doesn't blame them; after all, it is a piece of shit. "They just need imagination," he says, "to see it from a different point of view."

Have an unusual observation or favorite oddity about a neighborhood? zoomin@chicagoreader.com.

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Anthem Weinberg/Newton Gallery
September 11
Performing Arts
July 31

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