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

Truth B Told art exhibit includes Marita Dingus

Ruby Re-Usable and Jane Junkton attended the opening of this show back in January, but there is still time to view the more than 160 paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed-media, video, and 3-dimensional installations by more than 50 Pacific Northwest artists of African descent in the ONYX Fine Arts Truth B Told art exhibit at the King Street Station gallery in Seattle — show runs until until February 18, 2017.

Marita Dingus with her piece, Gathering the Spirits, at Truth B Told ONYX Fine Arts Opening

There isn’t a whole lot of art from recycled materials in the exhibit, but we did get to see our friend and Recycle Art Goddess Marita Dingus‘ latest piece, Gathering the Spirits, an impressive trio of figures made mostly out of repurposed metal scraps that are embellished with various plastic pieces (including black plastic mesh scraps left over from our ill-fated McClure Middle School recycled art installation — more info about that HERE).  Marita first created a solitary figure similar to this trio for the Bellevue Art Museum’s 4th Biennial, Metalmorphosis, which focused on the medium of metal; we look forward to see more of these figures.  More info about Marita Dingus and Truth B Told exhibit HERE and HERE and HERE

Gathering the Spirits by Marita Dingus at ONYX Fine Arts exhibit Truth B Told 


Be Brave – Don’t Follow – Make Yourself Happy: Danny Mansmith


So I have fallen deeper down the rabbit-hole of vintage sewing machines: not only admiring the way these machines sew and were built to LAST (no planned obsolescence for these machines — there are antique & vintage sewing machines that are still being used to sew, 100 years later, AND you can still get parts for them), plus how cool they look, but also being intrigued by images created about vintage sewing machines.

Red Vintage Sewing Machine by Danny Mansmith
Red VSM by Danny Mansmith

While spending countless hours viewing photos and videos of vintage sewing machines, I came across the wonderful work of Danny Mansmith, who not only sews his own clothing, but uses a retro sewing machine to construct figures out of found objects and fabric scraps, creating joyful installations that make him happy. His motto is “Be Brave — Don’t Follow — Make Yourself Happy,” and I am sew so happy to have found him!

Danny Mansmith in his studio photo by Autumn Anglin
Danny Mansmith in his studio photo by Autumn Anglin

Danny Mansmith‘s work is part of the 35 Live: CoCA Member Show in Seattle; his work will be at CoCA PS35, opening reception 3/10/16.

More Danny Mansmith on Etsy and Flickr

Vintage Sewing Machine Doll by Danny Mansmith
Vintage Sewing Machine Doll by Danny Mansmith




Rubbish & Recycling artists: Marita Dingus and Joshua Sofaer

SO!  Olympia Dumpster Divers turned 9 years old this week; the official start date of this blog was July 13, which just happens to be our friend Marita’s birthday.  Marita Dingus remains the Queen of Art from Recycled Materials here in the Pacific Northwest, where she continues to exhilarate us with her unique ways of making art with the stuff other folks throw away.



Ruby's discarded venetian blind slats are incorporated into Marita's latest project
Ruby’s surplus venetian blind slats are incorporated into Marita’s latest project

Marita is also a docent for the Seattle Art Museum, currently leading tours of the Disguise: Masks and Global African Art exhibit.  This past Wednesday, Ruby, along with artist Kelly Lyles, had the privilege of being part of the public tour lead by Marita, which was an insightful and informative experience, since Marita is truly passionate about art and Africa. Unbeknownst to us all, there was another interesting artist in this tour — Kelly found out later when she attended his lecture at SAM that evening and recognized Joshua Sofaer as the Englishman who was asking questions during the tour that afternoon. Ruby totally regrets not being able to attend his talk, but is excited to learn more about his work.


work-in-progress: chicken coop with spheres by Marita Dingus
work-in-progress: chicken coop with spheres by Marita Dingus

Joshua Sofaer is a UK based artist involved in socially engaged art that includes elements of performance, collaboration, and public participation, often with an irreverent sense of humor.  He was in town to speak about his recent project, “The Rubbish Collection,” a one month long exhibit/exploration of the quantity, quality, and aesthetics of what was discarded by the Science Museum of London, questioning what we throw away verses what we keep.

The Rubbish Collection, Phase 1: Documentation by Joshua Sofaer
The Rubbish Collection, Phase 1: Documentation by Joshua Sofaer


“I want to use art to enable people to see the world as a place of potentiality and to become more active citizens.”         Joshua Sofaer

We look forward to reading more about Joshua Sofaer (and hope that our paths will cross again someday), seeing Marita Dingus’ next installation, (which will be at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art — stay tuned),  and, of course, posting more often about Ruby Re-Usable’s art from recycled materials and the myriad of art and artists that inspire Olympia Dumpster Divers to MAKE ART NOT WASTE!

Summer Shows in Seattle

Seattle has a lot of artists who work with recycled materials.  One of our all-time favorites,  Ross Palmer Beecher, has been making art out of recycled materials since 1980, yet she continues to inspire us with her ingenuity, craftsmanship, and wit.  Her ability to find new ways to reuse stuff other folks throw away was on display this summer at Greg Kucera Gallery.

My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009  23 x 16 x 2 inches
My Palette by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2009
23 x 16 x 2 inches

Two of our new favorite pieces from this recent show are “My Palette,” made out of tins, paint brushes, paint tubes, and enamel paint, and “My Palette #2.” The former takes the traditional shape of an artist palette and incorporates the traditional paints and brushes in a fresh, recycled-artist-kind-of-way, creating a sampler of some of her techniques and materials. “My Palette #2” is made out of spray cans, paint tubes, and foil, arranged in a traditional multi-pieced star quilt pattern.  It is this juxtaposition of the traditional images and the non-traditional/unexpected materials that never fails to excite us.  More Ross Palmer Beecher HERE and HERE

My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013 46 x 38 inches
My Palette #2 by Ross Palmer Beecher, 2013
46 x 38 inches

Another fabulous Seattle artist that works with tin is our friend Jenny Fillius, who had a solo show at Gallery4Culture back in the beginning of June.  The Stranger described her work as “energetic, wall-mountable tin sculpture pieced together from salvaged metal pieces (toys, religious iconography, advertisements). It sometimes looks like it was made by a junkyard savant in a delirium.”  We regret to admit that we managed to miss seeing this show in person, but we can attest to the fact that Jenny knows what she is doing, and she does it with craftsmanship, intelligence, and humor.  See more Jenny Fillus HERE and HERE

Jenny Fillius Stay On the Sunny Side

Lastly, while we are posting about shows in Seattle that we are sad to have missed, we need to tell you about our friend and mentor Barbara De Pirro, whose work was in “Vorfreude” with Katie Miller at Method Gallery this summer.  Barbara’s current medium is reclaimed plastic bottles, which she transforms into elegant, organic shapes.

Vorfreude is a German word meaning “the joyful anticipation of future pleasures.”
“Vorfreude” explores the anticipation of growth, transformation, and renewal in life through the installations of Katie Miller and Barbara De Pirro … De Pirro examines renewal through using reclaimed materials. The resulting relationship between each installation is the process of transformation, exploring the expected potential of materials, their lifespan, and connection to their environments. The audience is linked with the exhibition as they observe its transformation and await the final event.

Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014
Metamorphosis by Barbara De Pirro at Method Gallery, 2014

Our next chance to view Barbara De Pirro’s work will be September 5 – October 12, when it will be part of the group show “Ethnobotany: An Artists“™ Study of Plants“ at the Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma; this time, Olympia Dumpster Divers vow to be there!  More Barbara De Pirro HERE and 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


Seattle RE Store recycled art show 2014

The Seattle RE Store‘s 13th Annual Recycled Art Show is opening this Saturday, April 12, 6 pm – 9 pm at Blowing Sands Gallery in Ballard (show runs through May 7).  Ruby Re-Usable was once again one of the jurors (along with our friend in recycled art, Cheri Kopp, and gallery owner David Smith).  The range of materials artists reuse to create their work is always interesting; here are a few of our favorites from this year:
"Gimli" by Jennifer Kuhns salvaged stained glass on reused cupboard door
“Gimli” by Jennifer Kuhns                                                                                                salvaged stained glass on reused cupboard door
"Dick's Deluxe" by Brian Brenno recycled tins
“Dick’s Deluxe” by Brian Brenno         recycled soda and beer cans
"Cheerios Chair" by Sari Israel woven cardboard cereal boxes
“Cheerios Chair” by Sari Israel
woven cardboard cereal boxes, cans, old chair

We look forward to seeing this show and the art work in person!


SUSTAINING: group art show

We are so honored to be part of this environmentally-themed group art show:


Abmeyer Wood Sustaining group show

opening on April 3 for downtown Seattle’s First Thursday Art Walk, 6 pm – 8 pm, at Abmeyer + Wood (right across the street from Seattle Art Museum).

Some of the artists in this exhibit are names you should be familiar with: Marita Dingus, Steve Jensen, and Ruby Re-Usable, along with Alfredo Arreguin, Matthew Dennison, Karen Hackenberg, Gaylen Hansen, Meg Holgate, Holly Lyman, Lynda Lowe, Ann Mallory, William Morris, Annie Marie Musselman, Catherine Eaton Skinner, Raven Skyriver, Rob Snyder, Phil Stoiber, Jason Walker, Melissa Weinman, and Suze Woolf.  We are looking forward to meeting these artists/making new friends/seeing new ways to “Make Art Not Waste” and otherwise promote eco-art issues.

Wonder Baby by Ruby Re-Usable
Wonder Baby by Ruby Re-Usable

The Facebook invitation is HERE.  Speaking of Facebook, have you “liked” Ruby Re-Usable yet?  Find me on Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE 

And if you are ever in Olympia (Washington, USA), stop by and say hey at Matter Gallery (my studio is upstairs)!