More Marita in March

Olympia Dumpster Divers blog was originally started in July 2006 as a way to document Ruby Re-Usable’s HERE TODAY temporary art installation, although lately it seems like all Marita Dingus all the time, but I am sure you don’t mind, because Marita is so inspiring in the fearless way she recombines a myriad of recycled materials to create figures that resonate with cultural, historical, political and environmental issues.  So this month, we  will be posting about Marita once again.

The Gathering by Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery

Marita Dingus’ show “The Gathering” is at Traver Gallery, March 2- April 1, 2017 (more pics HERE and HERE).

“In her mixed media figurative sculptures, Dingus, to communicate her narratives, uses almost exclusively, recovered and found material as the medium for her sculptures, creating harmonious results from shattered pieces and discarded materials.

In her exhibition, Marita Dingus commemorates how humans continue to call upon the spirit world for help and guidance in conducting their affairs, especially in times of elevated threat and uncertainty. This show is inspired by Marita’s love of the nkondi sculptures of the Kongo people, which were used as spiritual enforcers of conflict resolutions. The Gathering represents the duality of people seeking spiritual support outside themselves when in fact the spiritual strength comes from within. Gathering is also a process of passing along to the next generation the skill to draw upon our inner strengths.” via Traver Gallery

This past Saturday Marita invited me to hang out with her and Lynn Di Nino at their wearable art sale at Dan Fear’s art studio in Tacoma, so I brought along my Singer 201k hand crank sewing machine for Marita to try out — she has several electric Singer 201 sewing machines and was skeptical about hand cranks, but was so impressed by the smoothness of the crank, the well-designed case, the portability and the practicality of it (when the power goes out, as it tends to do here in our part of the Pacific Northwest, a hand crank &/or a treadle is a useful sewing machine to have) — she totally fell in love with it and wants one now!

ps Marita introduced me to the glue gun back in 1986; more recently she is one of the people who has sparked my passion for vintage sewing machines.

Marita test sews with Ruby's 201k hand crank sewing machine

Last Chance to See Two Trashtastic Art Shows

There are two excellent group exhibits here in the Pacific Northwest that showcase art from recycled materials, and both are ending soon:

Saving the Environment: Sustainable Art exhibit at the Schack Art Center in Everett (April 23 – May 30, 2015) is an ambitious group show that spans a wide range of ways that artists work with recycled materials.

Ruby Re-Usable sitting next to her plastic bag and tape sculpture, Mother and Child/Plastic Is Not Healthy for Babies and Other Living Things
artist Ruby Re-Usable sitting next to her plastic bag and tape sculpture entitled “Mother and Child/Plastic Is Not Healthy for Babies and Other Living Things” in Saving the Environment: Sustainable Art at Schack Art Center

The list of participating artists includes lots of our favorite artist who work with recycled materials: Staci Adman, Sarah Allen, Dona Anderson, Jules Anslow, Jim Arrabito, Ross Palmer Beecher, Aline Bloch, Mary Ellen Bowers, Eric Brown, Susan Brendon, Jody Cain, Alana Coleman, Barbara De Pirro, Lynn DiNino, Marita Dingus, Amy Duncan, Claire Farabee, Roxy Gesler, Stuart Gullstrand, Julia Haack, Karen Hackenberg, Terra Holcomb, Katherine Holzknecht, Jan Hopkins, Susie Howell, Wendy Huhn, Peggy Hunt, Gay Jensen, Gale Johansen, Kristol Jones, Diane Kurzyna aka Ruby Re-Usable, Alice Larson, Stephen Lestat, Lucy Mae Martin, Danny Mangold, Lin McJunkin, Russ Morgan, Randy Morris, Thor Myhre, Keith Pace, Evan Peterson, Stan Price, Rainere Rainere, Lisa Rhoades, Joe Rossanno, Graham Schodda, Britni Jade Smith, Victoria & Ron Smith, Denise Snyder, Christine Stoll, Pat Tassoni, Joe Walker, Sylvia White, Laurie Williams, Heather Wilson, Tonnie Wolfe, Monica Ann Guerrero Yocom, and more

More pics HERE

Also check out this installation by Barbara De Pirro and Joe Walker at the show:

The other show that is happening right now is Cut & Bent: Group Exhibition at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, an awesome tin/metal art group show with Ross Palmer BeecherJenny FilliusNia MichaelsDeborah PaulKathy RossLoran Scruggs, and Nan Wonderly — ends June 7, 2015.

artist Jenny Fillius in Cut and Bent at BIMA
artist Jenny Fillius in Cut and Bent at BIMA

Jenny Fillius with BIMA’s curator Greg Robinson podcast

More pics 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             

More Marita Dingus at Northwest African American Museum

Teacups and friends photo by Spike Mafford
Teacups and Friends from Marita Dingus: At Home  photo by Spike Mafford

We went up to Seattle the other week with our friend and idol, the Queen of the recycled art scene, Marita Dingus, to see her latest exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum.  The exhibition, entitled Marita Dingus: At Home, includes the baskets, quilts, and dolls made from a myriad of recycled materials that were once formerly shown at Francine Seders Gallery, with photos by Spike Mafford of how these objects look in Marita’s home studio, where they are casually combined with her doll collection, outside in her goat pen, or being utilized to hold art supplies.  The show is up until May 26, 2014.  More Marita Dingus HERE and HERE and HERE, more pics of this show HERE

Marita at NWAM 2014-04-30 11.53.23


Have a Trash-free New Year

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

Still our favorite art from recycled materials blog: Art for Housewives

And still our favorite trash blog: everydaytrash

Our wish for 2014: Good Luck (by Jenny Fillius)
Our wish for 2014: Good Luck (by Jenny Fillius)

More Favorites: Lady Bug Circus (tin assemblage), Barbara De Pirro, Pat-Works (heavy metal with light), Matter! Gallery (art and sustainability), Visible Trash, Marita Dingus, Haute Trash, Patti Shaw, Recycle Runway, Holly SennEarth911

New favorites: Inspiration to feed your recycling mind: RecyclartReuse, reclaim, reimagine: Haute NatureArtist self portrait from recycled bottle caps (via Great Green Goods), Toys from Trash

Things we were going to post about and never got around to it until now:  25 Ways to Reuse Cans (thanks, Urban Woodswalker); Sculptor John T Young: Turning Swords into PlowsharesTrash RapQ & A with Fashion and Jewelry Designer Baby Steinberg100 Trashy Transformations


Have a Trash-free New Year!
Have a Trash-free New Year! via Ecouterre


Marita Dingus: Trash Fashion, Trash Art, and Trashed Art

Remember back in May when we posted about the mavericks made from recycled materials that the McClure Middle School 7th graders created with Marita Dingus and Ruby Re-Usable?  We promised an update when they were installed.  Well … it never happened.  The finished art work, the artists’ examples and some leftover materials, were all stored in a school portable over the summer, along with surplus computer equipment and other junk.  Right before the installation was slated to occur, the unthinkable happened: the rush to transform the portable into a classroom to accommodate the increased enrollment led to the accidental disposal of our horses.  Gone.  Trashed.  While we are disappointed about this unfortunate incident (we were devastated for a while, which is why it took us almost 3 months to post this),  we will continue to Make Art, Not Waste!  Only now we will be more careful in how it is stored and displayed.

Marita Dingus has not only been busy making art, not waste, she has had 2 exhibitions of her work in Seattle this fall:

Marita Dingus at the NW African American Museum: Fashion-Free-For-All exhibit
Marita Dingus at the NW African American Museum: Fashion-Free-For-All exhibit

At the Northwest African American Museum, you can see Marita Dingus: Fashion Free-For-All (8/17/13 – 1/5/14) in the PACCAR Gallery, and Buddha as an African Enslaved (10/12/13 – 1/12/14) in the Northwest Gallery (more pics HERE).

Beaded Flower Child 1 and 2 Francine Seders Gallery Marita Dingus art opening  IMGP9709
Beaded Flower Child 1 and 2 by Marita Dingus at Francine Seders Gallery

The soon-to-be-retired Francine Seders Gallery had a 4 person show this past month (it closes today), with Jacqueline Barnett, Elizabeth Sandvig, Laura Thorne, and Marita Dingus.  We went to the reception on November 10 and took a few pics (more HERE)

The Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection includes a piece by Marita Dingus

Marita was part of the Inside Art/Why Do We Make Things panel (9/10/13) at Town Hall

Marita will be part of a group show, Equipollent: The Artists of Inside Art 2013, 12/5/13 -12/21/13, at Standing Visits Project

Marita Dingus's exhibit Fashion-Free-For-All at Northwest African Art Museum
Marita Dingus’s exhibit Fashion-Free-For-All at Northwest African Art Museum



‘Opala Art in Hawai’i

Aloha!  While on vacation on the Big Island of Hawai’i, Ruby Re-Usable saw some art made from ‘opala (Hawaiian for trash):

We went to Studio 7 Fine Arts Gallery and got a tour of Donkey Mill Art Center in Holualoa, which offers art classes for adults and youth

collaborative installation by Kathleen Dunphy and Melany Kerver at Donkey Mill
youth recycled art at Donkey Mill Art Center

In Volcano, we visited the Volcano Art Center and Volcano Garden Arts, where we saw art work by Ira Ono and an artsy ukulele by Patrick Inouye

Ira Ono art at Volcano Garden Arts

We were over a month late for the 24 Annual Trash Art and Fashion Show  in Hilo and missed meeting Ira Ono (the coordinator and founder of the Trash Art Show), but we did get to have macadamia nut pancakes (with passion and guava syrup) at Ken’s House of Pancakes with Rayona Visqueen (Hilo’s head trashionista)

More Hawaiian Trash Art HERE & Here & HERE & Here & HERE & Here & HERE

Primo beer can ukulele by Patrick Inouye at Volcano Art Center

Recycle Art: Marita Dingus and Mar Goman and ODD 6th BD!

The 6th birthday of Olympia Dumpster Divers is this Friday, July 13.  We started the blog as a way to tell the story of “Ephemeral Folks,” Ruby Re-Usable’s HERE TODAY temporary art installation project for the City of Olympia in the summer of 2006.  After the project was over, we realized that we wanted to keep on posting about our own work, as well as the work of  our friends/fellow artists who create art from recycled materials, here in Olympia, the Pacific Northwest, the USA, and around the world.  We were and continue to be inspired by Cynthia K’s Art for Housewives, which we think of as the OG of recycle art blogs.  Two other trashy blogs that we love started up in the summer of 2006: Everyday Trash and The Visible Trash Society

Marita Dingus hanging figures at Francine Seders Gallery photo by Liesel Lund

This blog was started on the birthday of our favorite recycle artist, who just had a show at Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle (June 8 – July 8, 2012):

For more than twenty-five years Marita Dingus has chosen to make art from castoff materials, and this choice and the reason behind it has largely shaped her work. In a 2008 statement she wrote: “I use discarded materials because I see people of African descent as being used during the institution of slavery and then discarded“¦The goal of my art remains to show people“™s ability not only to survive but to prosper under dire circumstances.“ Limiting her materials in this way has been a valuable constraint for Dingus. She has an unparalleled ability to select and combine unusual materials in unexpected and thought-provoking ways. Marita Dingus presents an eclectic body of work in her upcoming show. Her emphasis is on the figure“”painted faces, “fence people“ (figures set into architectural frameworks), and small freestanding or hanging figures“”but she continues to make fences and baskets as well. For several years Dingus incorporated glass elements into her work, but in this show she returns to her original mix of re-purposed fabric, leather, plastic, and found objects.

Marita and her beloved at Francine Seders Gallery

Showing with Marita in the main gallery was a Portland artist that we admire:

Mar Goman works in several art forms and with a variety of materials; nevertheless, there is a distinctive feel to her work that comes from its made-by-hand aesthetic and thematic grounding in spiritual traditions. The current show will include both two- and three-dimensional pieces. Goman“™s small collages, made from found vintage papers and objects as well as other media, often combine text with images. They are carefully composed and crafted but have the immediacy of diary pages. Her sculpture often consists of grouped multiple objects or figures that she has made and embellished with text, found objects, and other ephemera. Small in size and simply made of mundane materials, these works carry considerable spiritual weight.

Mar Goman at Francine Seders Gallery

Liesel Lund’s posts with lots of great pics of the show HERE and HERE

more about Marita Dingus HERE and HERE

more Mar Goman HERE and HERE and HERE

PS if you want to send ODD birthday wishes via post, mail them to:                          Ruby Re-Usable, Diva of the Olympia Dumpster Divers                                          416 Washington St SE #201A                                                                                     Olympia, WA 98501 USA

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

Recycled Artist: Patti Shaw


Seattle artist Patti Shaw has been making and exhibiting her art quilts since 1999, but it was the Seattle RE Store’s 5th Annual Recycled Art Show that inspired her to create art from recycled materials, specifically the leftover votive candle wick tabs.  Ruby Re-Usable recently visited Patti Shaw in her Ballard studio, where Patti relayed the following story about how she got started:

In December 2003 I had a show of icon imagery in the chapel of St. James Cathedral, Seattle. When taking down the show, I noticed a sacristan changing out the burned down votive candles, replacing them with new ones. When I saw him doing that I realized that each piece of aluminum represented someone’s prayer so I asked if he would mind saving them for me. A couple of months later, in 2004, they called and told me they had a box for me to pick up. I wasn’t sure what to do with them so I put them in the attic where they sat for a couple of years. In 2006 I saw a call for entries for the Seattle RE Store’s Recycled Art Show. I thought of my recycled prayers in the attic, hauled them out and starting playing with them trying to come up with ideas on how to use them. I finished my piece and entered it in the RE Store’s juried show. It was accepted and turned out to be a great success for me. I later sold the piece and since then have made over 40 works using the recycled prayer wick tabs.

more pics from Ruby’s visit to Patti Shaw’s studio HERE