Found artistry

Art from recycled materials powers lively opening for group show at The Artistry

The Railflowers (from left, Ellen and Beth Knight) lead the show at The Artistry’s <i>Spare Parts</i> exhibit.

The Railflowers (from left, Ellen and Beth Knight) lead the show at The Artistry’s Spare Parts exhibit.

Photo By Kyle delmar

Review: Spare Parts: Reclaimed Art Show 2010, with guest artist Dave Lawton, now showing at The Artistry through May 8.
The Artistry 830 Broadway 894-5227

Last Saturday evening’s opening at The Artistry was packed. All evening long, spectators gathered in little mobs before each of the many works that together make up Spare Parts, an ongoing (through May 8) show of pieces made from recycled materials. The art work was created by a slew of local artists, including mosaicist Cooie Grey-Lavin, woodworker Ken McCall, ceramicist Janice Hofmann and paper artist Darcy Lawson.

Some of the crowd also milled happily around the makeshift window-area stage, where two-thirds of local Americana group The Railflowers—singer/guitarist/mandolinist Beth Knight and her sister, vocalist Ellen Knight—entertained gallery-goers with their sweet vocal harmonies.

Popular local artist Dave Lawton, who owns The Art House sculpture garden and gallery with his wife, fellow artist Jana Lawton, was the featured guest artist. A number of his authoritative metal pieces are featured in the Spare Parts show. His graceful metal sculpture “Leda and the Swan” is notable for its simplicity and ability to make rusted metal and a rock look so beautiful together. Likewise for “3 Bolt Day,” made of metal and brass bolts (no rocks).

Lawton’s “Katrina”—a sculpture made of recycled components including rebar and what looks like an old T-shirt covered in cement—is interesting for its ability to suggest movement. One guesses that the name refers to the disastrous 2005 Hurricane Katrina—the sculpture seems to suggest that a piece of someone’s shirt is being pulled by a water-current at the same time that it is caught on a piece of a demolished building.

Another of Lawton’s pieces, “Stones Throw,” captivates even more than “Katrina” for its suggestion of movement. Comprised of a precariously tilted piece of I-beam supporting a rebar “cage” full of rounded stones from which one of the stones seems to be escaping, “Stones Throw” seems like a Pixar short waiting to happen. Lawton at his most whimsical. Love it.

Dave Lawton’s “Leda and the Swan”

Photo By Kyle delmar

Vanessa Church’s “Reclaim Your Style”—a kimono-like dress in greens and browns with matching headgear—is another show-stealer. Church, who works at Women’s Health Specialists, made the eye-catching ensemble from the heavy-duty, recycled bags used to ship condoms to the clinic and material salvaged from the Dumpster at local sewing shop Woof N Poof.

“While working at Women’s Health Specialists,” wrote Church in her artist’s statement, “I discovered strong plastic bags used in the shipping of condoms being thrown away by the staff. At first I was taking them home for trash can liners. … I was working with a wonderful woman, Doctor Eva, who was a quilter. The joy of seeing her creative art quilts inspired me to ‘quilt’ on my treadle sewing machine.”

Don Bravo’s “The Bell” is a lovely, stately piece featuring a “decommissioned oxygen cylinder,” as he describes it, made into a long “bell” suspended from a frame constructed in part from a fallen oak branch, pieces from old farm equipment and a thrown-aside tractor disc. The end of the striker is a used roller-blade wheel—and the deep, sustaining sound of the bell when struck rivals the mellifluous tone of the loveliest wind chime or Buddhist bell.

Woodworker David Widlund’s two three-legged chairs are exquisite. One, called “Bundle Chair,” was created partly from an alderwood “divider to allow a forklift to get under stacked lumber,” and the other was made from walnut wood left over from the making of gun stocks. The Sam Maloof-inspired seat of “Bundle Chair” makes the piece remarkable for its comfort as well as its beauty.

One of Jason Roye’s dragonflies.

Photo By Kyle delmar

Jason Roye’s three impressive recycled-metal pieces cannot go without being mentioned. Roye’s “Phaya Naga (Water Dragon)” demanded—and deserved—to be seen as it stood impressively behind the heads of The Railflowers women as they sang.

Mixed-media artist Bree Schmidt’s colorful recycled-paper-on-textured-canvas pieces were striking, as were Sunset Regall’s recycled animal skulls adorned with old beads and seashells. And Doug Rathbun’s giant, recycled-metal “chandelier” called “DevilFish” suspended over the hors d’oeuvres area was truly amazing.

A great show, well worth checking out.