It's been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and in this case that's true. REart: A Recycled Art Exhibition has been gracing the storefronts and galleries of three Bellingham locations during the month of October. These art exhibits were created by artists ranging from children to professionals and include conceptual pieces, wearable art, photography, paintings, decorative lights, metal sculpture, and many pieces that sometimes defy description.
The show was the idea of The RE-Store, a Bellingham non-profit that salvages used building materials to be sold and reused, said Jason Darling, RE-Store outreach and marketing manager. The RE-Store wanted to give their customers a chance to display their building projects, Darling said. This grew to include recycled art, and is now the REart show, he said.
“A big part of our mission is to get people to reuse things and be creative- whether that is to refurbish a house or make art,” Darling said. Darling also has a mobile art station- a truck which he fills with wood, wire, paint, and other tools- which he takes to festivals around the area, including Western's earth day celebration.
“It's fun to see what people come up with,” Darling said.
The festivities kicked off at 7pm, Oct. 5. in the Allied Arts Gallery in downtown Bellingham. This gallery featured works by professional artists, said Rebecca Hutchins, director of Allied Arts. The gallery is a non-profit whose goal is to create and foster an environment in which the arts are an integral part of the community, said Hutchins. The gallery has more freedom to display non-commercial artwork such as installation pieces and to give exposure to emerging artists, said Hutchins.
The gallery has featured two Western students previously, one showcasing the work of senior art students, and the other featuring recent alum, Susan Rotondo, in her first gallery showing, Hutchins said. The gallery is always interested in collaborating with students, Hutchins said.
Although the show was originally only showcasing local artists it attracted candidates from all over, namely North Carolina and Indiana, probably due to a growing interest in recycled art, Hutchins said.
Hutchins sees this show as an “opportunity to educate the public on consumerism and waste.”
On one of Allied Arts walls hangs a photograph entitled "Recycling Yard #5," by Chris Jordan, whose work focuses on consumption and consumerism. (Jordan was also featured recently on an episode of The Colbert Report.) The image shows massive, multicolored stacks of crushed metal recyclables, impressing upon the viewer the immense amounts of goods consumed.
The RE-Store hosted its artist reception Oct. 6, mainly featuring art from school age people, Darling said. The event also featured live music and Darling's recycled art station.
“There was a pretty steady stream of people,” Darling said. “It was great to see people get so lost in their art that they forgot the time.”
On Oct. 11, Western's VU Gallery held its artist reception for the university's REart exhibit, which focused on college and facility art, said Heidi Norgaard, VU Gallery coordinator. The exhibit opened Oct. 8 and will continue until Oct. 27.
“Western's campus is a community interested in being sustainable and the REart show brings that idea from the environmental community into the art community,” Norgaard said.
The showing included work by Indiana State University student Kenton Bradley. His work was recently shown at the Bare-Mont Gunory Gallery at Indiana State University. This show, entitled “Put a Lid on It,” featured box lids collected at his local recycling center and dump, Bradley said. The lids are either turned into frames and showcase his photography or, like the piece included at Western, are painted with a technique called action-painting, used by Jackson Pollock, Bradley said.
“The idea is more in the movement and is all about the action that isn't there,” Bradley said.
David Wall's piece, “Retain,” was a construction of scrap metal welded into an intricate pentagon frame. This frame held an elaborate arrangement of various sized clear glass containers, each filled with water.
This piece did not originate from a sketch but instead was an “organic growth” which focused on the idea of creative collaboration between himself and another artist, Wall said.
“What's the difference between recycled art and new art?” Wall asked. “There are a lot of materials to be used that just need a little attention.”
The VU Gallery is located on the fifth floor of the Viking Union, next to the Student Life Office. There will be another free recycled art workshop 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 20 at the RE-Store.