'Art Reinvention': CAC watches the waste line

Visual Arts

  • "Scissors," a mixed-media and found objects sculpture by Donald Edwards, is among the items on display in "Art Reinvention," now at the Columbia Art Center.
"Scissors," a mixed-media and found objects sculpture… (Courtesy of Columbia Art…)
June 14, 2011|By Mike Giuliano

Artists are doing their part for recycling in the Columbia Art Center exhibit "Art Reinvention." Here the artworks are all made from recycled materials, found objects and raw materials. Seemingly nothing goes to waste here, including waste itself.

Rather than throwing things away, some of these artists treat trash as treasure. Amanda Mattos, for instance, makes that big point with one of the smallest works in the show. Her "Tin Flower" includes a soda can that has been carefully shredded in order to create the petals for a shiny metal flower. It has been placed in a tiny vase filled with beads from a broken necklace.

Creative recycling also characterizes several sculptures by Jesse Wieman that are made from salvaged pieces of metal. In "Max," a three-wheeled little cart supports a vehicle made from a Maxwell House coffee can. It's a literal-minded reminder that coffee keeps us on the go.

The trashiest artist, in a manner of speaking, is Donald Edwards. He has several wall-mounted mixed-medium sculptural assemblages comprised of tightly compacted objects. There's nothing messy about this trash, however, because most of these small objects prompt a smile of recognition.

In Edwards' densely bound assemblage titled "VW," for example, the objects include model railroad tracks, metal keys and colorful bits of plastic. The artfully organized objects take an anthropomorphic turn in "Watonga Eagles," in which the assembled buttons, marbles, beer caps and other items have been collectively shaped to resemble a human being.

Only a few artists in the exhibit are this blunt about re-using assorted items that most of us would either stockpile on a garage shelf or simply put out for trash collection. Most of the other artists are thinking about ways to imaginatively transform raw materials.

Dick D'Agostino has several sculptures that look like they might be made out of painted stone or wood. They're actually made from paper pulp that has been fitted over wire armatures. The resulting sculptural forms are covered with marbleized paper, which in turn is given a gleaming polyacrylic finish.

Look at D'Agostino's "Meditation Stone Green" and related works and you'll be reminded of such staples of Asian art as bonsai, ceramic vessels and contemplation-worthy shaped rocks, but these pieces actually are lightweight simulations of such things.

All of the above artists work with multiple materials in rather unorthodox ways, but the exhibit also contains a few artists who take a single material and craft it in such a way that you appreciate its material properties. Woodworkers in particular have an ability to transform wood into utilitarian objects with sleekly beautiful surfaces that accentuate the wood grain.

Lou Rudinski's "Box Elder Pepper and Salt Mills" have smoothly curving forms and wood grain-enhancing surfaces to gently spice up the exhibit. And Phil Brown's "Hickory Vessel" has a narrow base supporting a round bowl that's a feast for the eyes.

"Art Reinvention" runs through June 26 at the Columbia Art Center, at 6100 Foreland Garth, in the Long Reach Village Center, Columbia. There is a reception Tue., June 21, 5-7 p.m., with a gallery talk at 6 p.m. Call 410-730-0075 or go to http://www.ColumbiaArtCenter.org.

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