13th Duck the Malls at the Capitol Theater

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.

Duck the Malls

 

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

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

Oly Arts Walk: recycle art review

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:

"Rise Above Plastics: the Butterfly Effect" by Carrie Ziegler and Jennifer Johnson and 700 students out of reused juice pouches, at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts
“Rise Above Plastics: the Butterfly Effect” by Carrie Ziegler, Jennifer Johnson, and 700 students, made with reused juice pouches, at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts

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).

detail of "The Butterfly Effect"
detail of “The Butterfly Effect”
Carrie Ziegler wearing Ruby Re-Usable's upcycled pink plastic bag flower fascintor
Carrie Ziegler wearing Ruby Re-Usable’s upcycled pink plastic bag flower fascintor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

"Salvage" nest by Cynthia Salazar and Joe Batt
“Salvage” nest by Cynthia Salazar and Joe Batt

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:

Gizmo at Matter Gallery in aluminum pop tops chain mail
Gizmo at Matter Gallery in aluminum pop tops chain mail

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

Olympia Earth Day Arts Walk

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:

"Rise Above Plastics: the Butterfly Effect" photo by Steve Bloom/The 0lympian
“Rise Above Plastics: the Butterfly Effect” photo by Steve Bloom/The 0lympian

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

"Blue Moon" mosaic by Jennifer Kuhns
“Blue Moon” mosaic by Jennifer Kuhns

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).

Oly TRL librarian Sarah P wearing an original Ruby Re-Usable repurposed plastic bag flower fascinator
Oly TRL librarian Sarah P wearing an original Ruby Re-Usable repurposed plastic bag flower fascinator

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).

Three Bad Seeds wool pillow cat
Three Bad Seeds wool pillow cat

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)

Ruby Re-Usable (w/friend Linda C) and her shopping cart of repurposed plastic bag flower fascinators
Ruby Re-Usable (w/friend Linda C) and her shopping cart of repurposed plastic bag flower fascinators

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.

We will have more pics and a review after the event (Olympia Spring Arts Walk: 4/25, 5 pm – 9 pm and 4/26, noon – 9 pm, PotS parade at 4:30 pm, downtown Olympia, WA USA)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair

Springtide Dancers by Diane Kurzyna

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.

detail of degrading Wonder Bread pants

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

Springtide Dancers at Olympia Center (without plexiglass cover)

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

Earth Day Recycled Art Dolls

student at work on Earth Day art project using recycled materials

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.

2 mermaids made from recycled materials

Introducing Three Bad Seeds

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.

Amanda and Ruby at Make Olympia Street Market

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).

 

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