Au Revoir, Matter Gallery

Matter Gallery is closing at the end of the month.  Matter has been part of the recycle art scene since September 2009, featuring art work made from repurposed, upcycled, and/or sustainable materials created by artists up and down the west coast, many of them our friends from the Pacific Northwest.

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

Jo Gallaugher, founder of Matter Gallery, July 2012

It was a colorful, eclectic place, crammed full of interesting and unusual things, like Pat Tassoni‘s lamps “…culled from the consumer detritus of the American wasteland and reverse-engineered with alien technology;” the paintings and furniture made with wooden boats, sail remnants, and other odd stuff by George KurzmanMicki Shampang-Voorhies‘ “kinky shoes” made from scrap metal and old tools; rustic reclaimed metal sculpture by Pattie YoungLoran Scruggs‘ bottle cap whistles and tin assemblages; Jennifer Kuhns’ mosaicsStu Gullstrand‘s masks made from junk he finds along the railroad tracks and in dumpsters (really, I have taken walks with him and his dog in their SoDo neighborhood); plastic bag babies and soda pop top jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable; and Steven Suski’s paintings and assemblages.

“For me it was great having my art at Matter to validate artists who make art out of junk or recycled material. Matter’s art pushed my boundaries of what art can be made of and what can be art. Matter’s closing is a real loss of diversity for Olympia’s art community.” — artist Steven Suski, on the closing of Matter Gallery

Read more about Matter Gallery closing in the Weekly Volcano

Matter Gallery 2014: front row: owners Roxanna Groves, Cha Davis, Jude Manley back row: Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Matter Gallery owners 2014                                                                                                                                          front row: Roxanna Groves, Cha Davis, Jude Manley                                                                                back row: Pat Tassoni and former employee Louise Morgan

Have a Trashionable New Year

So as this is an end-of-the-year post, we thought we would reflect on this past year while looking forward to the next.  For me, Ruby Re-Usable, the thing that stands out the most is Trash Fashion.  I am eagerly anticipating the Schack Art Center‘s Saving the Environment: Sustainable Art exhibit, which will be up April 23 – May 30; their Trash Fashion Show date is still TBA.  Back in November, I had the honor of being the main presenter for the Schack Art Center’s teachers’ workshop, where I spoke about artists in Washington State who specialize in recycled materials.  I also taught hands-on workshops on recycled art dolls and Trash Fashion; the latter was particularly successful in generating inspiration for everyone, including moi (one of the reasons I enjoy teaching is that I get some great ideas on how to reuse materials from my students, both young and old alike).

Trash Fashion workshop models at the Schack Art Center November 2014

Classroom teachers became Trash Fashion workshop models at the Schack Art Center 11/7/14.  The teachers worked in teams of 5  to come up with trash names, create one trashtastic ensemble, and generate a story that went with the piece, all in 1 1/2 hours.

Here are some Trash Fashion links to check out for future reference: Trashion Fashion Show promotes environmental awareness through art in Harford, Ct, Washington, DC, and New York City.  Trash-Fashions promotes recycling and reusing through art, design, performance, installation and education.  Port Townsend Wearable Art is a yearly wearable art fundraiser and competition happening since 2011 in Port Townsend, WA.  Inspired by the success of the Upcycle Style show, Tinkertopia presented an Upcycled Trash Fashion Show in the Old Post Office in Tacoma, WA.  Haute Trash creates fashion out of trash for entertainment, education, and empowerment.  Nancy Judd of Recycle Runway uses trash fashion to stimulate conversation, action, and education about sustainable living.

Princess Trashie of Saves-A-Lot shows off soda tab jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable

Princess Trashie of Saves-A-Lot shows off soda tab jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable at Upcycle Style

The only Trash Fashion show I participated in this past year was Upcycle Style, the show I co-organized with Ms Darcy Anderson back in September; it was a fabulous show and quite the learning experience for us both.  Not only did I get to work with some talented designers and models while creating some new trashtastic ensembles, but I had some epiphanies as well (are you allowed to have more than one epiphany at a time?).  I realized that there is a lot more that goes into producing a Trash Fashion show than I previously thought (notes to self: need a stage manager along with the usual crew, dedicate more time to working with models on their routines, and renewed respect to Rayona Visqueen of Haute Trash),  AND I rediscovered a passion for making jewelry from recycled materials.

The jewelry happened because I needed to accessorize Princess Trashie’s plastic six-pack rings dress.  In my design process, I prefer to use a minimal variety of stuff, keeping the materials related to the overall theme of the outfit.  In this case, I needed a pop of color to offset all the icy silver mylar and pale white six-pack rings.  Since I already had a little silver soda tab bag for Trashie to carry (a gift from a friend, we don’t know who made it), and since soda tabs were part of the cans that were previously in the six-pack rings, soda tabs were the perfect material to continue the motif.  It helped that I had a collection of tabs from my sons: electric blue ones from the Blue Sky soda they drink, and silver ones from various sources, including their 5th grade teacher, who gave me his lifetime collection when he retired (why he was collecting them and where he got so many is a different story for a different time).  A trip to the crafts store for jump rings and voila!  A necklace, earrings, and a bracelet were created, and an Etsy shop was reborn.

"junk jewelry" by Ruby Re-Usable, made with cat food can pull tabs and pop tops

“junk jewelry” by Ruby Re-Usable, made with cat food can pull tabs and soda pop tops

I liked the jewelry that I made for Trashie so much, I made a set for myself, only I varied the design slightly.  Soon I went searching for more tabs of different colors, discovering along the way that not only do they vary in color, but soda tabs also come in different shapes and sizes.  I had purchased my first piece of soda tab jewelry from Maddie the Mad Rad Recycler, who was a middle schooler at the time. She is now in high school and no longer in the soda tab jewelry biz, so she gave me her collection of mostly energy drink tabs (along with some beer tabs from an uncle who worked in a bar).  Did I mention that I have two cats who eat two cans of cat food a day?  The pull tabs from those cans soon became incorporated into necklaces as well.  My friends have rallied to save me their drink tabs, but I am always on the look out for more.  You can see (and buy) my soda tab jewelry on RubyReUsable.etsy.com

Art from Rubbish by Michelle Reader

Fox recycled art sculpture by Michele Reader

Fox recycled art sculpture by Michelle Reader

Since 1997, Michelle Reader has been working to make recycled materials into sculptures, often incorporating mechanical elements such as the working parts of toys and clocks. Her materials come from city dumps, roadsides, and thrift shops, and include both household and industrial waste. “I love the unpredictability of found materials and enjoy the inventiveness necessary to transform them into a sculpture,” she says. “I try wherever possible to use materials that are reclaimed, things with a history that have been discarded and might otherwise end up in landfill.”

Seven Wasted Men recycled art sculpture by Michele Reader

Seven Wasted Men recycled art sculpture by Michelle Reader

Perhaps her most famous work is this family portrait, known as “Seven Wasted Men,” that was made from one month of household waste from the family. “The materials not only highlight a need to address the amount of waste each of us produces, but also tells the story of each individual through the things they discard—a child’s drawings, a shopping list, a birthday card,” she says. via Jill Harness/mental_floss

Happy Trashoween 2014

Recycled Tin Monsters:

Trash Fashion Zombies:

Maddie the Rad Recycling Zombie

Maddie the Rad Recycling Zombie is Ruby’s inspiration for her recent recycled art soda tab jewelry

Trash Fashion Skeletons, too:

photo by Amy Neiman via LA Times

photo by Amy Neiman via LA Times
The gown is made from styrofoam cups, paper plates and plastic utensils — reused or repurposed?  We don’t know for sure, but still think this image is trashtastic!

and the Recycled Beer Capped Crusader:

Happy Trashoween 2014 from Olympia Dumpster Divers!

(more ODD Halloween posts HERE)

 

Upcycle Style: Fashionable Fife

The Diva of the Olympia Dumpster Divers, Ruby Re-Usable, and Darcy Anderson (Team Tinkertopia in Tacoma) presented a trash fashion show on 9/13/14, as part of the Valley Ballyhoo Performing Arts Show in Fife, WA.  This was a first time collaboration between Ms Re-Usable and Ms Darcy, but as Ruby (and Jacqueline Susann) likes to say, “Once Is Not Enough,” so we look forward to more of these events in the South Puget Sound region (and beyond) in the future!

Ruby wearing a bag from Mason County recycling that reads "Once Is Not Enough"

Ruby Re-Usable is wearing a bag from Shelton/Mason County Recycling that once held recyclables

Ruby was introduced to Trash Fashion through Robin Worley/Rayona Visqueen of Haute Trash; she has since participated as a designer in trash fashion shows such as Trash Fashion Futures, Icicle Arts Trash to Fash Runway & Awards Show, Trashion at the Indiana Welcome Center, and the Seattle RE Store’s 10th Trash Fashion Show, among others.  She really wanted to work with Ms Darcy after seeing her as a “Daffodil Princess” in the window of Tinkertopia (where she is co-proprietress), so when the Fife Arts Commission asked Ruby to participate in the Valley Ballyhoo, she invited Darcy to join her, and a Trashionista was born!  Darcy got her talented Tacoma friends to work with her on Team Tinkertopia, thus inspiring even more creative folks to discover their inner trashion designer.

Ms Darcy as a Daffodil Princess in the window of Tinkertopia

Ms Darcy as a Daffodil Princess in the window of Tinkertopia, wearing brown paper packaging trimmed with yellow plastic lids and yellow duct tape

Trash Fashion is meant to be an “edutainment” event, combining information about recycling and other environmental issues with art and humor to create a show that is both entertaining and educational.  We also aim to be inclusive and body-positive, utilizing our friends and local volunteers as models.  The Upcycle Style show in Fife was no exception: our models ranged in age from elementary school to fifty-something, and we wowed the crowd with some of our classic trash fashions, along with some exciting new creations.  This show was also a learning experience for Ruby … like, how the show must go on, even if the microphone and pedestal disappear right before you go on stage (yes, this happened), along with other stuff (don’t ask).  We regret that we did not have any professional photographers to document this show, but we do have some pics on Flickr HERE and a cell phone vid posted on YouTube HERE

Upcycle Style trashionistas backstage

some of the Upcycle Style trashionistas backstage

 

Summer Shows in Seattle

Seattle has a lot of artists who work with recycled materials.  One of our all-time favorites,  Ross Palmer Beecher, has been making art out of recycled materials since 1980, yet she continues to inspire us with her ingenuity, craftsmanship, and wit.  Her ability to find new ways to reuse stuff other folks throw away was on display this summer at Greg Kucera Gallery.

My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009  23 x 16 x 2 inches

My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009
23 x 16 x 2 inches

Two of our new favorite pieces from this recent show are “My Palette,” made out of tins, paint brushes, paint tubes, and enamel paint, and “My Palette #2.” The former takes the traditional shape of an artist palette and incorporates the traditional paints and brushes in a fresh, recycled-artist-kind-of-way, creating a sampler of some of her techniques and materials. “My Palette #2″ is made out of spray cans, paint tubes, and foil, arranged in a traditional multi-pieced star quilt pattern.  It is this juxtaposition of the traditional images and the non-traditional/unexpected materials that never fails to excite us.  More Ross Palmer Beecher HERE and HERE

My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013 46 x 38 inches

My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013
46 x 38 inches

Another fabulous Seattle artist that works with tin is our friend Jenny Fillius, who had a solo show at Gallery4Culture back in the beginning of June.  The Stranger described her work as “energetic, wall-mountable tin sculpture pieced together from salvaged metal pieces (toys, religious iconography, advertisements). It sometimes looks like it was made by a junkyard savant in a delirium.”  We regret to admit that we managed to miss seeing this show in person, but we can attest to the fact that Jenny knows what she is doing, and she does it with craftsmanship, intelligence, and humor.  See more Jenny Fillus HERE and HERE

Jenny Fillius Stay On the Sunny Side

Lastly, while we are posting about shows in Seattle that we are sad to have missed, we need to tell you about our friend and mentor Barbara De Pirro, whose work was in ”Vorfreude” with Katie Miller at Method Gallery this summer.  Barbara’s current medium is reclaimed plastic bottles, which she transforms into elegant, organic shapes.

Vorfreude is a German word meaning “the joyful anticipation of future pleasures.”
“Vorfreude” explores the anticipation of growth, transformation, and renewal in life through the installations of Katie Miller and Barbara De Pirro … De Pirro examines renewal through using reclaimed materials. The resulting relationship between each installation is the process of transformation, exploring the expected potential of materials, their lifespan, and connection to their environments. The audience is linked with the exhibition as they observe its transformation and await the final event.

Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014

Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014

Our next chance to view Barbara De Pirro’s work will be September 5 – October 12, when it will be part of the group show “Ethnobotany: An Artists’ Study of Plants” at the Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma; this time, Olympia Dumpster Divers vow to be there!  More Barbara De Pirro HERE and HERE

Steve Jensen’s Art Boats

Last Friday, Olympia Dumpster Divers attended the Percival Landing sculpture exhibit kick off party here in Olympia, WA.  It was a lovely little reception at the Harbor House, where chips and dips and non-alcoholic beverages were served and ballots passed out for the People’s Choice 2014 Percival Plinth Project.

Steve Jensen and Viking Bot at Percival Landing

Steve Jensen and Viking Bot at Percival Landing

Several of the thirteen pieces on display are made from recycled materials: Bil Fleming‘s “Basin of Quenched Fire” is a reclaimed sea buoy mounted on a tractor cog; in one of its previous reincarnations, it also served as a backyard fire pan.  Don Freas made “OPENING (Ring Dance #9)” out of a scrap length of heavy channel iron, some three inch and six inch pipe, a salvaged sprinkler pipe, and a cast-iron table base.  John Vanek used repurposed metal for “Dignity in Labor.”

But our vote for best sculpture (made out of recycled materials, of course) is Steve Jensen‘s “Viking Bot.”  We admire the elegant simplicity of repurposing railroad spikes (found by our mutual friend/fellow upcycle artist Russ Morgan while walking the tracks) into a vessel full of symbolism.  Steve, a Seattle native, comes from a long line of Norwegian fishermen and boat builders.  The image of the boat is meant to symbolize a voyage to the other side, or the journey into the unknown:

My best friend Sylvain did a drawing of a boat. When he gave it to me, he asked if I would make a carved boat for his ashes when he passed. He died a month later and I carved a boat as close to Sylvain’s drawing as possible. My mother came to Sylvain’s funeral and was so moved by the boat I had made for Sylvain that she wanted my father’s remains placed in a similar vessel when he passed. Since he was a Norwegian fisherman and boat builder, we buried the boat at sea, like a Viking funeral. Two years later when she passed, I created a boat for her and buried it at sea with my father. The day before John, my partner of twenty years, passed, he asked me to make a boat for his ashes. His wish was to be buried at sea with my parents. In the course of eight years I had tragically lost and buried everyone close to me.

Since that time I have created funeral boats for friends, family and pets. Art school never prepared me to work with human or animal ashes, but I feel honored to be asked and to have this opportunity. When I work with them, I feel transformed to another time or another place, an artist who has been asked to be both craftsman and mortician.

I began the Voyager Series to help me deal with my own grief and loss, and with hope to provide relief for others dealing with their own sorrow. I made this work as personal as possible because death is such a sensitive subject for many people. I felt that by exposing myself and my family, the viewers of this work might feel more at ease. Hopefully, for those who may be dealing with their own personal grief and loss, perhaps solace and insight can be found in this series.

I created the boats in this series approximately the same size as the actual boats used for burial. Carved in wood, painted, or sculpted, this work is a direct result of these experiences. Death is the one final thing we all have in common. The universal image of a boat in many cultures and civilizations symbolizes a voyage, perhaps the voyage to the “other side”, or the journey into the unknown.

You have until August 31 to vote for your favorite 2014 Peoples’ Choice Award Percival Landing Sculpture.  Read more in the 0lympian HERE             
 

Guerrilla Recycled Art in Olympia

Olympia Dumpster Divers first read about Guerrilla Man in The Weekly Volcano (Hanging with the Mysterious Artist Guerrilla Man) back in November 2013.

Guerrilla Man sculpture underneath I-5

Guerrilla Man sculpture underneath I-5

The Volcano named his work “Best Guerrilla Art” in Olympia 2014.  Then King 5 Evening News Magazine followed him into the woods and under the freeway to film him: view The Unknown Olympia Artist for more info.  

Second-hand Sid sits with Guerrilla Man sculpture in the woods

Second-hand Sid sits with Guerrilla Man sculpture in the woods

Second-hand Sid and Ruby Re-Usable finally figured out where these sculptures are (hint: they are in Tumwater, not Olympia).

Guerrilla Man writes that the sculptures underneath I-5 are “a revision and repurposing of the sculptural elements of a previous project.”  As far as we can tell, these figures have been there since September 2013.  The installations in the woods seem to have started around that time, too, using materials that were found on the site (plus some extra wire and nails).  Inspired by graffiti, Guerrilla Man’s unsanctioned art is worth searching for.  The experience of finding art in unusual/hidden/unauthorized places is part of the excitement of this kind of work.  See more pics HERE