Buster Simpson at the Frye

Buster Simpson has a retrospective of his work at the Frye Art Museum.  We went to Seattle to see  Buster Simpson/Surveyor twice; if you can not make it to the Frye (hurry, the show closes October 13, but it is FREE), you can at least read what Jen Graves has to say about our hero: Everything to Know About Buster Simpson in One Place

Buster Simpson Frye Art Museum Crow IMGP8762

You should also know what Regina Hackett had to say about this awesome artist:

Simpson doesn’t just straddle the divide between the functional and the poetic; he makes it disappear. In so doing, he has given the Northwest a revitalized myth of itself.  Regina Hackett, Earth Day Salute, 4/20/08

(and you can see Ruby’s flickr pics from the Buster Simpson/Surveyor HERE)

This Re-Usable Life: New Jersey

Ruby Re-Usable made a pilgrimage back to her home state this summer, and while she did not get to check out all of the weird, wonderful, artsy and trashy sites of New Jersey, she did get to briefly visit the Jersey Shore, specifically, the Asbury Park area, where she was impressed by the art from salvaged materials of Roddy Wildeman.

Roddy Wildeman in his studio

Roddy Wildeman in his studio at Torche’ Galerie in Belmar, NJ

Roddy owns and manages Torche’ Galerie in Belmar, NJ.    For the past 15 years, he has also worked as a carpenter, renovating homes and reusing salvaged wood for his starburst assemblages:

During the renovation process I watched as building debris and other materials piled up to be discarded. I began to feel mixed emotions as I thought about the history associated with these items.

I decided to ask the residents if I could salvage this material-building debris, metal and furniture. I began to repurpose and use it to make art. Although I’m not formally trained as an artist, I worked under master carpenters and absorbed their craft. There is something about knowing these items have been cherished that inspires me. I feel an intimate connection working with materials knowing they have passed through the hands of others. They have sentimental value, because they have been part of homes and the families that lived, loved and died there.

Roddy Wildeman's studio at Torche' Galerie, Belmar, NJ

Roddy Wildeman’s studio at Torche’ Galerie, Belmar, NJ

Roddy Wildeman’s work took on a greater poignancy when he started using debris from the boardwalks demolished by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The artwork has become a way to memorialize the shore communities. Pieces include debris from a number of shore towns, including Ocean Grove’s fishing pier and Long Branch.

wood assemblage by Roddy Wildeman

wood assemblage by Roddy Wildeman

More about Roddy Wildeman HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE

Art from Food Scraps

One of the recycled materials that we don’t post about very often is food/food scraps.  According to American Wasteland author Jonathan Bloom, Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption.  Composting is one way to “recycle” food waste, but what about reusing scraps like grapefruit and cantaloupe peels:

Jan Hopkins' award-winning piece "Oh Eleanor" at BAM

Northwest Designer Craftsman Jan Hopkins‘ sculptural tea pot, Oh Eleanor, made from grapefruit peel, cantaloupe peel, ginkgo leaves, ostrich shell beads, cedar bark, and waxed linen, was voted the Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial 2012 Samuel and Patricia Smith People’s Choice Award winner.

Oh Eleanor by Jan Hopkins (detail)

Perhaps one of the most dynamic artists working today, Jan Hopkins is a master at creating sculptural baskets from unusual natural materials. She uses citrus peel, lotus pods, black bamboo, and silver dollar seed pods while simultaneously incorporating traditional basket materials like agave leaves and cedar bark. Each piece is a marriage of deep sensitivity and reverence to materials with heavy emphasis on innovation. Jan began studying basketry with traditional makers, learning the art of meticulous construction and the basics of how to gather and prepare materials. Many of her works contain small pieces that are puzzled together creating elements of amazement and surprise.

“I try to create baskets that preserve the beauty of the materials and create a renewal or continuance to the cycle of life.” via Jane Sauer Gallery

more Jan Hopkins HERE and HERE

Wonder Bread Bag Art

Wonder Babies by Ruby Re-Usable 2012

Ruby Re-Usable has reused Wonder Bread bags in her mixed recycled media dolls and sculptures since 2000, when her then ten year old son, who was raised on whole wheat and tofu, demanded red meat and white bread.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being series by Ruby Re-Usable 2000

While her son no longer eats Wonder Bread, Ruby continued to create art with the bags when she could.  Her Wonder Bread bag art has won awards and has been included in museum and gallery exhibits around the world (and is currently at Matter Gallery)

Bag Lady in the Alley by Ruby Re-Usable 2006

Alas, now Wonder Bread and its colorful bags will no longer be available.  What will she do now, you wonder?  Well,  Ruby Re-Usable will continue to Make Art, Not Waste, of course!

View all of Ruby’s repurposed Wonder Bread bag artwork HERE

Read more about The Life and Death of Wonder Bread

Wonder Bra and Slip by Ruby Re-Usable 2008


Trash Fashion Futures

Ruby Re-Usable and Lana Landfill (aka Stuart Gullstrand) were part of an outrageous trash fashion event in Seattle:  Trash Fashion Futures was a two evening showcase of the very best of the west coast trash fashion movement, where trashionistas were “Illuminating the Challenges and Imagining the Possibilities” of trash.  The stage set was created by our friend Barbara DePirro, the show included photo imagery from our hero Chris Jordan, and Ruby Re-Usable‘s Bag People hung out in the lobby, along with Steven Strang’s pods made from recycled materials.  Twenty designers presented over 40 new designs made from reused/repurposed/rescued/salvaged materials.  Among our favorites were Tinker’s Damn Studio’s ReMade Mermaid, Got What It Takes by Dress for the Revolution, Tsunami of Trash by Chako, and Bottle Cap Wave by Elvira Mental Works.

Put a Lid On It by Ruby Re-Usable and Lana Landfill (photo by John Cornicello)

Lana Landfill has been keeping lids from going into the landfill for years, collecting all those colorful plastic tops to use in her art, but now the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) states that plastic caps can be kept on plastic bottles at the point of recycling.  So why are we still removing them and only recycling the plastic bottles?  Put a lid on it, says designer Ruby Re-Usable!  Or better yet, let’s refrain from purchasing plastic containers to begin with and pledge to lead a more plastic-free lifestyle.  Plastic is so passé …

You can view the video of this event HERE

more pics on Ruby Re-Usable’s flickr, LegalAdmin’s flickr, JP Beck’s flickr, Michael_Cline’s flickr, and John Cornicello’s Photography

Wonderful Whirligig Workshop

Wondering what we here at Olympia Dumpster Divers have been up to?  Well, one of the wonderful things we did lately was venture up north to Hutch Studio in La Conner, WA, where we participated in Chris Theiss’ whirligig workshop, along with fellow trash artists Deborah Paul, Jenny Fillius, and Ross Palmer Beecher.  You can see the video from that workshop HERE and more pics HERE

Ross trying on her whirligig

Ruby has not placed her whirligig outside yet (because she still needs to add some finishing touches), but Jenny has; check out Whirligigs in Motion, and read more about whirligigs in Washington State HERE

Recycle Art Thieves in Olympia


We have been remiss in reporting what is happening in the world of art from recycled materials!  Here it is, 2012, The Year of the Dragon, and we have already broken all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions … like drinking less/posting more often … although we do have a good excuse this time: the weather here in Olympia (snow, ice, rain and wind, in that order) caused major power outages, and so we have been without internet for several days (as well as without electricity, phone, etc, but the liquor cabinet was well-stocked).  And while the city was crippled from this storm, some art lovers thieves took advantage of the situation to break into our beloved Matter! Gallery and make off with two pieces of art made from repurposed media:

Tribute To The Concussed Skier by Jud Turner (50″ diameter)

Horizons II by Jerry Williamson (56″ height x 40″ width)

Sometime late on Friday evening (1/20/12), the burglars (at least two) bashed in one of the skylights and rappelled themselves into the gallery.  The thieves took the artworks out the back door and were in the process of removing two additional works (Pat Tassoni‘s Space Needle Coat Rack and Ruby Re-Usable‘s Green Trash Gyre Baby) when they were apparently interrupted. Olympia Police recorded footprints on the skylight, floors, and walls.  There are still no suspects, but the media has been paying attention to this unusual art heist.

Read all about it: The Olympian, ArtLyst, the Huffington Post, and the Register-Guard; see some news clips on Q-13 FOX News and KOMO News

IF you have any info, contact Jo Gallaugher: jojo@matteroly.com

Space Needle by Pat Tassoni and Green Plastic Trash Gyre Baby by Ruby Re-Usable

all photos by Robert Snell


Upcycle Solstice/Happy Trashnukkah/Merry Trashmas

We here at Olympia Dumpster Divers would like to wish you an Upcycle Solstice, Happy Trashnukkah, Merry Trashmas and a Recycled Festivus for the Rest of Us!  This year, the eight days of Chanukkah coincide with the winter solstice and Christmas, so we are presenting a combo of trashtastic hanukiahs and X-mas trees all in one post:

Menorah made in Haiti out of recycled 55-gallon oil drums

Christmas tree made from plastic bottles in Haifa via Green Prophet

Go green with a recycled Sprite bottle X-mas tree in Lithuania

Make a glass bottle menorah with instructions on ReadyMade

Hubcap X-mas tree from Unconsumption

Peznorah (and 7 more awesome menorahs) found on geek.com

post consumer recycled plastic Christmas tree via Tikkun, more pics at ElvertBarnes

clothespins hanukiah by Gad Charny, more sustainable menorahs on Green Prophet

There are even more images of creative reuse Christmas trees on Unconsumption, Crisp Green, and Mother Nature Network.  We tried to find an image of the sun made from recycled materials, but couldn’t find one, so Ruby vows to create a sun for the NEXT upcycle solstice celebration.  Happy, Trash-free Holidays from Olympia Dumpster Divers!

This is a hanukiah that Ruby Re-Usable made for the" Twelve Days of Christmas" windows display in downtown Olympia in 2002. These festive, zoftiig ladies are made out of blue and white Hanukkah detritus, with a white candle on each of their heads.