Slain artist's work to be profiled at UAH exhibit - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Slain artist's work to be profiled at UAH exhibit

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Wharton, seen here in 2012, was killed early Wednesday morning. Wharton, seen here in 2012, was killed early Wednesday morning.
Some of Wharton's artwork will be put on display at a UAH exhibition. Some of Wharton's artwork will be put on display at a UAH exhibition.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Marylyn Coffey became a dedicated fan of Huntsville artist Wade Wharton as she gathered his pieces for a formal showing at UAH.

"He had stories about every object," she said as she examined one of his many eclectic studies. "These people were sitting on a bench… Wade would say that when he wasn't looking, they would start flirting with each other."

Wharton had become a local institution with his huge collection of pieces displayed for years in his yard. He and the UAH Department of Art and Art History had been planning a different, academic, gallery-style exhibit.

"It's wonderful in the garden. It's magical in his yard. To take the work and put it on the wall makes you see the formal qualities of it," said Coffey.

Exhibit organizers arrived at Wharton's home to pick up some sculptures and instead found police cars, crime scene tape, and the news that he had been murdered. "It's a tremendous loss to the community," said department chair Lillian Joyce.

UAH plans to go ahead with the exhibit as Wharton wanted, so that students and the public can experience this startling secret from our backyards.

"Some of the pieces are wonderful. They're on the order of Duchamp or Picasso, even," Coffey said.

Besides Wharton's work, the exhibit will now also feature Wharton himself, in the form of a big-screen video presentation, telling his stories.

Huntsville Police are still looking for answers into Wharton's death. His body was found in his front yard on Nassau Drive early Wednesday morning. Police have not released how he died or why he may have been killed, but they believe they have the person responsible. Ervin Tolbert remains in jail without bond.

WAFF previously profiled Wharton and his artwork in a "Bobby's Bama" segment from November 2012. You can see that report here.

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