Art from Scrap

Last month we told you all about the art heist at Matter Gallery; unfortunately,  we have no updates to report as of yet.  This month we are posting about Matter Gallery again:  forty of Matter’s artists have work in the Art from Scrap exhibit at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.  Highlights of this exhibit include:

an assemblage by Vblast

She Weaves a Tangled Web by Vblast

a Mexican folk art-inspired piece by Loran Scruggs‘:

Our Lady of Bottle Caps by Loran Scruggs

a colorful baby by Ruby Re-Usable:

Crazy Quilt Plastic Patch Baby by Ruby Re-Usable

a plastic bag dragon by Bil Fleming and Christine Malek:

Polyethylene Fiend (detail) by Christine Malek and BIl Fleming

Art from Scrap runs February 3 – 28; see more pics HERE and HERE, read what Molly Gilmore wrote about this show in the Olympian and what Alec Clayton of the Volcano thinks (hint: he loves painting but doesn’t think the dragon is art) and then tell us about your favorite piece

The inspiration for this exhibit was the innovative and energetic Canadian group, ScrapArtsMusic, who performed at the Washington Center on 2/4/12

RecyclArt in Issaquah

Marita Dingus with one of her recycle art fences at the artEAST RecyclArt Show opening

So this past Friday, Olympia Dumpster Divers Ruby Re-Usable and Pat Tassoni ventured up to Issaquah, WA for the opening of artEAST’s juried RecyclArt Show, where we met up with fellow artists who work with the materials most people either throw away or put into their recycling bins.  Our friends Jenny Fillius and Kelly Lyles were there, along with many of the participating artists, including Nia Michaels, Tom AndersonEsther Ervin, Vblast, Suzanne Tidwell,  and Marita Dingus (who, as a guest juror, was invited to display a piece in the show).  The variety of materials and techniques used to create the sculptures, wall hangings, and other objects on exhibit was, as usual for this genre, intriguing, inventive, humorous and fun.  View pics from the opening HERE

Figure drawings from torn paper bags at artEAST RecyclArt show (artists unknown)

We also took a few pics of the Proletkult group show at the Blowing Sands Gallery in Ballard, (which ends October 5, 2011) and the pics from last month’s Olympia Film Society’s What You Got Zombie Trash Fashion Show at the Capitol Theater are HERE

MEANWHILE, our man in Armenia, Bil Fleming, is blogging about his dumpster diving adventures while being an artist-in-residence there: Bilinarmenia

Zombie M models a Macy's plastic shopping bag (plastic is the un-dead of detritus ... )


Shedding some light on art and recycling


Burnt Out by Ruby Re-Usable

Several Olympia Dumpster Divers will be in a group show at Childhood’s End Gallery here in Olympia, WA.  15 Ways with Light runs August 20 – September 15, with a First Friday reception on September 3, 5 pm – 8 pm.  Participating artists: Tom Anderson, Robert August, Pino Cherchi, curator Pam Corwin, Joline El-Hai, Bil Fleming, Jennifer Kuhns, Ruby Re-Usable, Nikki McClure, Randi Parkhurst, Nancy Sigafoos, Steven Suski, Pat Tassoni, John & Ainsley Walden


Ask an Olympia Dumpster Diver: Flestering


 From our e-mail bag box:

Hi Ruby!

For the purposes of ODD and your blog I am now considering myself Bil “the Flesterer” Fleming rather than Landfill Bil.  The word comes from this Pittsburgh Artist and his website and work.   Bil

Ruby responds:  Dearest Bil “the Flesterer” Fleming, Thank you for sending us an interesting link to share with our fellow dumpster divers!  Of particular note is this thoughtful art review from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, describing aforementioned artist Bob Johnson’s river cubes:  this detritus of industrial consumer society [is arranged] in ways that suspend between happenstance and formal elegance (read entire review HERE).

The word “flester,” though, is troubling me.  I can not find a definition of it outside of Johnson’s own site, which leads me to the conclusion that he invented the term, which of course, is fascinating in its own right.  But flester sounds too much like “fester” to me, and flesterer does not exactly roll off the tongue.  Also, the word is obviously obtuse and does not add to our understanding of your work.  So we will refer to you as Bil “the Flesterer” Fleming if you insist, but please note that the lack of poetry and clarity in this new moniker, coupled with the unconventional “Bil with one L,” is causing us some discomfort.  Gentle Readers, what do you think of the word flester?  love, etc Ruby

ps for more pics of painted dumpsters, check out Ruby’s flickr

Public Art in Olympia Summer 2008


Our own Olympia Dumpster Diver Bil “Landfill” Fleming did his Here Today Performance Dishwashing at the Olympia Farmers Market on Friday, and Ruby Re-Usable was there to admire Bil’s zero-waste zeal and his commitment to embracing the community through entertainment, public participation and public edification. You can see pics HERE and then read more by John Dodge in the Olympian HERE

ODD George the Junkileptic Kurzman got a great review for his salvaged wooden boat sculpture turned temporary monument; read Alec Clayton’s column in the Volcano HERE


And our friend Trudes Tango, who tells us that working in clay is reclaiming the earth and therefore is eligible for ODD status, got a shout out from Regina Hackett of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. We have not personally found any of her birds during our forays around downtown, but tricyrtis.hirta did

See more of Ruby’s pics of public art around Oly HERE and HERE

Here Today 2008 Kick Off

Bil Fleming Performance Dishwashing

The City of 0 kicks off Here Today 2008 in downtown Olympia on Saturday, August 2 at the Olympia Farmers Market with public participation plate decorating by Olympia Dumpster Diver Bil Fleming from 10 a.m. to noon; plates will be used in his Performance Dishwashing project on August 15 at the Olympia Farmers Market

At 11 a.m., the Waterfront Public Art Tour leaves from the market and ODD George Kurzman will be there to discuss his temporary recycled art installation entitled Would It Be

More info about Here Today 2008 HERE and HERE

Happy Earth Day 2008

Since there are no official Earth Day events happening here in Olympia, WA, USA, Olympia Dumpster Divers will simply give a shout out to some of our favorite artists who do their recycled/upcycle/sustainable eco-art thing not just for Earth Day but all year long:

Buster Simpson Bird HouseRegina Hackett beat Ruby Re-Usable to it when she posted an Earth Day Salute that included two of her heroes, Buster Simpson and Marita Dingus

Ruby would also like to include Ross Palmer Beecher and the late Meng Huang to that list of inspiring Pacific Northwest artists.

ODD Bil Fleming has constructed a large human powered kinetic sculpture from salvaged bike wheels, lumber, and plastic grocery bags. Entitled “What Goes Around, Comes Around,” it is the centerpiece of the Seattle Re-Store’s 6th Annual Recycled Art and Fashion Show at the New York Fashion Academy. Video of a similar but smaller project by Landfill Bil HERE

Wonder Bra and slip by Ruby Re-Usable

Speaking of the recycled art and fashion show, you can see more pics of the show HERE and HERE ; the Haute Trash Fashion Show this past Friday was, of course, TRASHTASTIC! There will be a closing party for the art show on Saturday, May 10, in conjunction with Ballard Art Walk.

The Bellingham Herald did a nice write up about one of the artists from this year’s ReStore show; read how Kuros Zahedi creates art from the trash he collects on the streets HERE

The Olympia spring Arts Walk is happening this Friday and Saturday, April 25 & 26, so ODD George the Junkileptic Kurzman, Steve “Second-hand Sid” Suski and Ruby Re-Usable aka Diane Kurzyna have art work at Olympia Salvage (George and Diane also have work in the ReStore show; more info about George HERE)

Check out Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Leo Sewell‘s found object assemblage sculptures

The Tree Hugger ProjectSt. Louis artists Wiktor Szostalo and Agnieszka Gradzik do The Tree Hugger Project: ongoing environmental art designed to help us re-discover our relationship with nature at a very personal and intimate level

and remember, love your Mother: Make Earth Day Every Day!

love, etc Ruby


Altruism Generator (detail) by Bil Fleming

“Altruism Generator: What Goes Around Comes Around” is a kinetic recycled art installation by Olympia Dumpster Diver Bil Fleming. He worked with a class of 4th and 5th graders from Lincoln School, along with some Evergreen State College students, to create this engaging and interactive piece for the Global and Local Visions Art Show 2008 in the TESC library building. It reminded Ruby Re-Usable of prayer wheels for fervent recycling; we look forward to seeing more of this series. See more pics of it HERE and read more about artist Bil Fleming HERE.

Olympia Dumspter Diver Bil “Land Fill” Fleming at TESC

Bil Fleming in the daily 0

Olympia Dumpster Divers is proud to read about our own Bil Fleming in the pages of the Olympian; we have reprinted the article here so as to spare you from having to view those hideous ads about varicose veins. (ps Bil was born with two “L’s” in his first name, but in his effort to reduce waste, he has voluntarily given up one of those “L’s.”)


Interact with kinetic sculptures created from salvaged itemsat historic Capitol Theater

Reused objects are more than artist Bil Fleming’s media – they’re his message.

Fleming, who created the installations on view in the niches (known as gardens) that flank the stage of Capitol Theater, works in a variety of forms – creating lamps, sculptures, drawings and picture frames – but it’s rare for him to use materials other people haven’t discarded.

One of the installations, “The Projectionists’ Gardens,” is an assemblage of flowers/gears made from bicycle wheels, 2-by-4s and other cultural artifacts such as a satellite dish, a clock, a trash-can lid and a child’s plastic hard hat. Strips of plastic shopping bags form a belt connecting the bicycle-wheel gears. Gears turn when the viewer pulls a lever at the front of the piece.

The other, “Reverse Psychology,” masks the niche and bears signs warning the viewer not to look or touch. The idea, of course, is to find out what happens when people disobey, as they so clearly will.

“The brilliant concept of the pieces is that the audience has to participate, be a part of the art, make it come to life,” said Audrey Henley, the theater’s manager. “At a recent show with Jason Webley and a performance by Brothers from Different Mothers, the reaction of the audience put a smile on my face. People would laugh, clap and play with both pieces right up until it was show time.”

All of the materials Fleming used for “The Projectionists’ Gardens” were salvaged, except the lock nut that ensures the lever stays belted on.

There’s nothing new about recycled art – not on a broad scale, and not for the artist himself.

“Art from reused materials is probably older than art from new materials,” he said. “Even before tramp art, aboriginal peoples would go back to the junk pile when they needed something. They could go back and use their trash like a library.”

And finding the value in what’s been cast off runs in the family.

“I remember my mother stopping on the way to take us to school because she saw a stereo amplifier in someone’s garbage,” he said. “Mom was way into music and didn’t have a very modern stereo. She pulled it out of the trash to see if it would work and it did. It worked great. That made a big impression on me.”

Fleming’s passion for reusing rather than buying helped inspire “Garden,” which makes a statement about the fruits of consumerism – and another about the challenges of working with salvaged materials.

“A lot of materials are leftovers from construction projects,” he said. “I had 2-by-4s, but they were ratty. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and found a dozen 2-by-4s by the side of the road, all brand new.”

He installed them as the stems of the flowers, but then rethought it.

“I said, ‘No one’s going to believe those are salvaged,’ so I didn’t use them,” he said. “I wanted it to come through that what was being used was waste.”

“Reverse Psychology,” which is much simpler and starker, tempts the viewer to peek through a hole and turn a crank – by forbidding those very things.

“It scares a lot of people. You fall for the concept, not realizing the consequences,” Henley said. “You really have to experience it yourself to understand it.”

The sculptures are interactive and include sound, motion and light – fitting because Fleming is best known for his lamps, made of reused and salvaged materials, including kitchen utensils, car parts and plumbing parts. A tin lantern that casts patterns on the theater wall is a part of “Reverse Psychology.”

“I put them together into assemblage sculpture that usually has an interactive on-off switch – a lever or a funky dial, some sort of curious means of turning it off and on,” Fleming said. “I try to play around with the light they create.”

He also creates collages, does digital photography – which doesn’t involve a lot of reuse or recycling but does promote his philosophy of finding beauty in the old and imperfect – and makes practical objects such as shopping bags, cutting boards and picture frames.

“They aren’t art frames,” he said. “They look like you could have bought them at Target. I started making them as a response to someone’s criticism that my lamps were too expensive. They said recycled stuff should be available to everybody.”

Besides Capitol Theater, where his installations will be on view through Dec. 28, Fleming’s work can be found at the Black Front Gallery, Radiance, Harmony Antiques and Whirligig. And at Duck the Malls, an alternative shopping event Dec. 9 at Capitol Theater, he’ll offer wreaths made of ivy he’s been pulling out of his yard.

Art is Fleming’s primary occupation, although he also does some maintenance on an apartment building he owns. And he’s a stay-at-home dad to Haidn, 12, in sixth-grade at Washington Middle School, and Teal, 8, a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary.

“With the kids both in school full time, I have more discretionary time to put toward just working on art,” he said. “But then there are the errands and doctors’ appointments and everything else that goes along with having kids.

“So it’s great that my schedule is flexible. That’s a big benefit of being an artist.” installations

What: “The Projectionists’ Gardens” and “Reverse Psychology,” interactive site-specific installations by Olympia artist Bil Fleming, provide more entertainment in historic Capitol Theater before and after movies and shows.

When: Through Dec. 28

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia

Tickets: There is no charge to see the installations, but they are on view primarily when the theater is open for events.

Information: For theater information, call 360- 754-5378 or go to For details on Fleming and his art, go to

U p next: Diane Kurzyna will be the next artist to display her work in the spaces that flank the stage.