We are all for buying less and having trash-free holidays, but Olympia Dumpster Divers also strongly believes in buying local and handmade, and supporting artists by buying their quality crafts. Thus, Duck the Malls was started, as a venue for artists to sell their work during the height of shopping season, and as a way to raise money for the the Olympia Film Society.
Now in its 13th year, the annual Duck the Malls is happening at the Capitol Theater on December 12, 11 am – 4 pm. An awesome craft sale, it has grown to over 50 local artists offering hand crafted wares, plus a particularly delicious bake sale — all of the artists also donate a homemade baked goodie. So support our local artists, our local independent theater, and our downtown, by coming on down to Duck the Malls! Many of your favorite Olympia Dumpster Divers will be there, including, of course, Ruby Re-Usable, along with Christine Malek, Pat Tassoni, Jennifer Kuhns, Nora Walsh, Shari Trnka, Will Eikleberry, and Mike Cummins (who designed this year’s poster), and others.
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.
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 Kurzman; Micki Shampang-Voorhies‘ “kinky shoes” made from scrap metal and old tools; rustic reclaimed metal sculpture by Pattie Young; Loran Scruggs‘ bottle cap whistles and tin assemblages; Jennifer Kuhns’ mosaics; Stu 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
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.
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.
Second-hand Sid and Ruby Re-Usable finally figured out wherethese 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
Well, the weather for the Spring Olympia Arts Walk weekend was cold and damp mixed with rain and a little hail and then some rainbows, the usual Northwest fickle spring … not very conducive for wandering around admiring art. However, since we did promise to follow up on our Earth Day Arts Walk preview, Ruby pulled on some rubber boots and managed to leave Cast Off Art Lab long enough to take a few pictures of art from recycled materials on display:
We were delighted to see this installation in person and to meet Carrie and Jennifer. Carrie even purchased one of Ruby’s repurposed pink plastic bag flower fascinators! The installation will be up at the Washington Center for awhile (not sure how long).
Next we went to Capitol Florist, where proprietor Cynthia Salazar collaborated with Joe Batt to create large nests made from natural materials and found trash:
There were also artists and craftspeople set up on the streets. We ran into Jeanne McCarthy, who makes funky jewelry from thrift store finds, and a couple who makes birdhouses out of salvaged barn boards. At Matter Gallery, the entire place is always filled with art from green/sustainable/recycled materials; we especially admired this canine visitor wearing doggie trash fashion:
Ruby did not take to the streets with her shopping cart full of colorful heads wearing colorful repurposed plastic bag flower fascinators; instead, she hung out at the Capitol Theater Building studios with Three Bad Seeds, Steven Suski, and Arrington de Dionyso. See more pics HERE
ps it was too rainy for Ruby to take any pics of the parade: view it on YouTube
Happy Oly Arts Walk! Olympia Arts Walk brings out the creativity in our citizens, and every year more folks are working with trash/recycled materials to make amazing art. Here is a preview:
Thurston County solid waste educator Carrie Ziegler and environmental health educator Jennifer Johnson worked with more than 700 students to create “Rise Above Plastics: The Butterfly Effect,” an installation made from reused juice pouches, which is on display in the lobby of The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. (#81 on the Arts Walk map) More info HERE
Jennifer Kuhns will once again have her mosaics made from salvaged stain glass and other materials in the window of Hot Toddy (#95 on Arts Walk map).
The Olympia Timberland Regional Library has Peeps Art Dioramas, Lincoln Elementary School youth art, and recycled materials sculptures made by youths with Tinkertopia (#70 on Arts Walk map).
Ruby’s studio mate, Amanda Weiss of Three Bad Seeds, transforms old wool sweaters and blankets into not-quite-toys-but-not-quite-traditional pillows (#107 on Arts Walk map).
Matter Gallery always has art from green/sustainable/recycled materials on display (#109 on the Arts Walk map), plus daily comic strips by Chelsea Baker (who utilized cardboard packaging to mount her strips)
And of course, Ruby Re-Usable will also be around for Arts Walk, either at the studio (416 Washington St SE, which is #107 on the Arts Walk map) or, weather permitting, wandering the streets with her shopping cart full of fabulous repurposed plastic bag flower fascinators for sale.
Ruby Re-Usable has been reusing plastic bags in her art work since 1999 (Wonder Bread bags since 2000). In 2004 she was commissioned by the City of Olympia to create a piece of art that would be used as the cover image for the spring Arts Walk map, and also become part of the city’s public art collection. Using shopping bags from local businesses, in combination with other stuff (including decorative plastic sushi “grass,” foil from sparkling apple cider bottles, plastic film canisters, pony beads, soda straws, thrift store Xmas garland, reused chenille stems, a gum wrapper chain, ribbon scraps, plastic bread tags, an empty plastic cap ring, and a pop top), Ruby created Springtide Dancers: three doll-like figures with plastic bottles and cardboard tubes for an armature, covered with old socks and dressed in those colorful plastic bags.
Fast forward 9 years later, when Ruby notices that the Wonder Bread bag pants of one of the figures have seriously faded and are also photodegrading. While Wonder Bread is no longer available, Ruby did have a small stash of Wonder Bread bags still available for the necessary repair work. More pics of the before and after work HERE
Maybe the City of Olympia will allow Ruby Re-Usable to include an informational tag on her piece about the dangers of plastic bags; or maybe she will just have to create a new piece of reused plastic bag art that has the information integrated into the art work!
Read more about the problems with plastic bags and how photodegradation creates smaller, more toxic petro-polymers HERE and HERE and HERE
ps Nine years later, we are happy to report that some of those shops are still in business AND have stopped using plastic shopping bags; the City of Olympia/Thurston County are considering banning plastic bags
April seems to be one of the busiest months for Olympia Dumpster Divers. We, of course, believe that every day is Earth Day, but it is still nice to have special events that celebrate reducing, reusing, recycling, et al. The Olympia Timberland Regional Library, in conjunction with Olympia Spring Arts Walk, is joining in on the celebration: art from recycled materials, created by students in workshops with Nora Walsh and Ruby Re-Usable, will be on display this weekend at the downtown Olympia library. Nora worked with younger students to sew sock kitties, and Ruby showed students in grades 4 – 12 how to make fantastical flora and fauna figurines out of plastic bottles and old socks and other junk. More pics HERE and HERE.
We here at Olympia Dumpster Divers are excited to introduce another ODD: Amanda Weiss/Three Bad Seeds, who is now sharing Cast Off Art Lab with Ruby Re-Usable. Amanda upcycles old wool sweaters and wool blanket scraps into sweet little stuffies and pillows with hip motifs, such as pugs, foxes, hedgehogs, mountains, and our fave, sugar skulls.
We are having an Open Studio + Art Sale this Saturday, September 22, from noon until 6 pm, 416 Washington St SE #201 (above Matter Gallery), so if you are in the Olympia area, we hope that you will come on downtown and check us out (there will be cookies. and red vines. and beer).
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:
Art from Scrap runs February 3 – 28; see more pics HERE and HERE, read what Molly Gilmore wrote about this show in the Olympianand 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