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Recycled re-ART

Recycled art show at Gallery Madera

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Art from recycled materials is nothing new. Picasso and Braque were doing it before most of us were born. But today it is done with a more direct emphasis on environmental stewardship. Gallery Madera has jumped on this bandwagon with re-ART ’08, a juried exhibition of art from recycled materials that opens Saturday, Oct. 18, with an opening gala from 3 to 7 p.m.

“We received 130 individual entries of art from recycled materials from nearly 30 different artists in a great variety of mediums,” says gallery owner Carlos Taylor-Swanson. “Our jurors did a great job bringing the overall number down to a manageable amount while keeping the show interesting and fun.”


Taylor-Swanson was kind enough to spread the works out for me to preview a week prior to the opening. A few of the participating artists had not yet delivered their works, but I saw enough to know that this is going to be a fun show. 


On the downside, a lot of the art is not only recycled material-wise but warmed up from well-worn artistic traditions. On the upside are some inventive and skillfully executed works of art from the likes of Blue Hesikx, Alice Di Certo, Chris Wooten, and an amazing American flag made by Ms. Seberson’s 2008 3rd-grade class at Washington-Hoyt Elementary. The flag was among a few works that had not yet been delivered when I saw the show, but an image of it is used on the announcement card, and it can be seen on the gallery’s Web site. With its rich surface textures and bright colors, it looks like a cross between Jasper Johns’ encaustic flags and flag paintings by Peter Max. Johns’, by the way, are great art, and Max’s are slick and corny knockoffs. The 3rd-graders’ flag has more in common with Johns.


Another artist whose work I didn’t get to see is Diane Kurzyna. But I have seen her work many times before, and she e-mailed me images of her works in this show — a group of playful dolls and one very dark and menacing doll made from recycled plastic bags.


Speaking of playful yet menacing, De Certo’s piece in this show is both, and it is one of the most striking pieces in the show. Surrealistic in nature, it is two heads joined at the back and consuming wine glasses. Depending on which direction you view it from, the glasses either go into one of the head’s mouth whole and is spit out the other in broken shards, or one head devours the broken glass and recycles it as intact stemware. The heads, by the way, are made from re-cast scrap iron from old radiators.


Interesting but uneven are Tim Mulligan’s four relief sculptures made from scrap building materials — wood moldings and frames. Mulligan puts the pieces of framing together in abstract patterns, primarily in bands of various colors. I’m told that he repaints some of the pieces but that many are left the colors he finds them. The best of these is one with a series of vertical bands with a small, square picture frame in the middle.


I think the most inventive and most skillfully executed pieces in the show are Brett R. Carlson’s tin art collages. Carefully planned, various colored pieces of tin are cut and assembled like jigsaw puzzles to create pictures. There are landscapes and cityscapes, one with the Incredible Hulk, and a beautifully prismatic copy of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. 


In addition to making good use of some of the trash that litters our planet, sales of art from the show will be invested back into the community as 30 percent of gross sales will go to help the Tacoma Food Co-op get up and running as well as support the Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee. 

[Gallery Madera, re-ART ‘08, through Nov. 29, 2210 Court A, downtown Tacoma, 253.572.1218, www.]

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