"Use It Again, Sam," an exhibition of what's known as "recycled art," is currently on display at the Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air.
What's recycled art?
It's art the artist makes from knick-knacks and other materials that might otherwise end up in the trash.
The idea is catchy but one might wonder whether the value of such art is aesthetic or merely proportionate to the amount of waste kept out of landfills.
Not to worry. The assemblages, photographs, prints, and sculptures in the display are not just good examples of recycling waste.
They are compelling and original works of art.
For the show, the museum committee of the Liriodendron Foundation selected 29 Harford County artists known for using found objects and other materials
traditionally not used in art works.
The exhibition is uneven in quality. Some of the works are simply decorative; others suffer from cuteness.
However, several artists, including Pat Kazi, M. Gayle Snee, and Brent A.Crothers, have created works of art that are provocative and elegant. Kazi's assemblage, "Maids of Honor II" (1991) is based on the groupportrait, "Las Meninas," by the Spanish master, Velazquez.
Kazi juxtaposes a reproduction of Velazquez's painting with three doll-likefigures, who represent the royal "maids."
The faithful dog lounging in the foreground of the painting, however, is transformed by Kaziinto a monstrous beetle costumed with butterfly wings.
The physical space in the box, representing the illusionistic space of Velazquez's painting, and the fantastic space reflected in the mirror on the floor of the box seem to merge together as the viewer peers into thisbizarre world.
Kazi's works can be found in the permanent collection of the Delaware Museum of Art, the McDonough School in Baltimore,and numerous private collections. M. Gayle Snee, whose work is currently on display at the National Museum of Ceramic Art in Baltimore, also uses found materials.
Her sculpture, "Game" (1991), is a Lilliputian environment of sand and fragments of architecture. Originally made for a design class at Harford Community College, "Game" is now the first of a series of "Games."
Snee says she wants to offer people a "chance to reconnect . . . with the basic elements of the earth."
Viewer involvement is part of this work. Looking and making cometogether as the viewer arranges pieces of metal, glass, wood and paper on the floor of sand.
" 'Game' allows the viewer to become the artist. The joy is in the creation of the thing," Snee says.
BrentA. Crothers' sculpture, "Untitled" (1988), is a graceful arch of wood lath bound with grapevine. This abstract composition is a study of oppositions. The arch pushes outward but is contained by the twisted vine. The wood strips contrast with the vine's wiry tendrils. The measured lengths of lath are wrapped in a figure-eight of vine; the finite is enclosed by the infinite. Crothers is currently exhibiting workat the Park Royal Hats gallery in Baltimore. In 1990, he was selected by internationally known sculptor Martin Puryear to created an installation for the School 33 space in Baltimore. Crothers also has an outdoor installation at the Arlington Art Center in Virginia.
"Use It Again, Sam" will be on view through May 7 at the Liriodendron Foundation, 502 West Gordon Street, Bel Air. Hours are 1-4 Sundays. Groups may make appointments by calling 838-3942 for weekday visits. Admission is free.
On April 13, The Liriodendron Foundation will host the Whole Earth Ball, featuring music, door prizes, and a cash bar. Tickets are $10 per person.