Anatomically-Correct Gargoyle Stirs Controversy in Ariz.

1:41 PM, Jun 6, 2013   |    comments
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PAULDEN, Ariz. (KPNX) - An artist in Northern Arizona finds himself in a fight with the county where he lives.

"I thought I was living in a free country," said artist David Smith.

Paulden, Ariz., is a small and quiet community, but lately there's been some chatter over the new guy in town: the 9-foot-tall metal gargoyle with a wingspan of 13 feet.

"It kind of symbolizes fire, because I work metal and fire has it's own spirit."

Smith just moved into the neighborhood. He says the day after he put up his prized possession, the county told him to take it down.

"They don't like it? Don't look," he said.

But it's not the size of the whole statue that has the county upset. It's the size of something else, and let's just say it is in proportion to a man who is nine feet tall.

"It just seemed like it needed to be there. I don't like Ken dolls," said Smith.

The sculpture wears no pants and is a full-frontal display of a nude male gargoyle.

"It wasn't put on there to offend anybody. That isn't the reason. Everything has a sex," said Smith.

He said the statue was at his Phoenix home for six years and nobody complained.

"Most people liked it," he said.

But some in the community said this is a huge deal, and the county agrees -- saying this is no laughing matter.

"The frontal nudity of the statue was offensive, and they were concerned their children walking by it," said Yavapai County official Steven Mauk.

They've told Smith that the statue needs to be taken down or removed from public view, or he'll face a fine of $1,000. But Smith said the statue is an extension of himself, and they're not going away so easily.

"If this is incompatible, I'm incompatible," said Smith. "I honestly thought I had freedom of speech, and I will fight this. I won't let them take it away from me: something I worked too hard on."

Because of Smith's appeal, the county will reconsider its original ruling. That means the statue stays, at least until the hearing in July.

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