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Artists turn trash into sculpture

Milwaukie artist Owen Premore explores questions about found objects and “the burden of nostalgia,” in GLEAN, an environmental art exhibit at Disjecta in Portland. An opening reception is at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, and the show will be up through Sunday, Sept. 8.

He’s not the only one vying for the chance to pick through a heap of trash to find unexpected inspiration for accidental art. The goal of the GLEAN show is to prompt people to think about their consumption habits, inspire new ways of conserving resources, and support the arts and environment.

“I also don’t feel comfortable buying new materials like plastics and metals with such a plentiful supply of salvageable materials available that I can make use of,” Premore said. “Repurposed objects have evidence of their original function, which I enjoy exploiting in juxtaposition to the new role I assign to the object.”

by: PHOTO COURTESY: GLEAN - Visitors (right) enjoy Milwaukie artist Owen Premore's 'Freewheelophone' (left, detail) at a recent exhibition.Residents and businesses in the Portland area generate more than 2.1 million tons of waste and recyclables each year — enough to fill the Rose Garden arena 15 times over. Tapping into the creative genius of local artists, GLEAN shows people how to repurpose their “trash.”

The project is a public, private, nonprofit partnership. Metro, the regional government that guides the region’s garbage and recycling system teamed up with Recology, an employee-owned company that manages resource recovery facilities, and Cracked Pots, a nonprofit environmental arts group that manages the program.

GLEAN takes its inspiration from Recology San Francisco’s artist-in-residence program. Se (detail, right) lect pieces from that program are on exhibit at the San Francisco International Airport through October.

Earlier this year, a jury of arts and environmental professionals selected five local artists to participate in the 2013 show. They are given a stipend, six months of scavenging privileges, and access to the region’s discards dropped off at the Metro Central Transfer Station in Northwest Portland. This year’s GLEAN artists include Kim Lakin, Eric Rosewall, Christopher Wagner and Vicki Wilson.

The group includes an instructor at area schools, the apprentice of a Japanese master carver, and a former designer with Michael Curry’s company who creates live-performance oriented characters and productions seen by worldwide audiences. GLEAN artists have been in solo and group shows — locally, nationally and internationally.

Their media and styles range from fiber and textile art to graphic design and architecture, wood carvings and metal sculpture to cast figures in brick, cement, broken auto glass and more. They use two- and three-dimensional forms for works and environments that are interactive, kinetic and auditory.

Fellow artist Chris Wagner expresses surprise about the number of nails he removes from a pile of old-growth Douglas fir boards. Nearly giving up on bright orange construction fencing that sat idle in her studio for weeks, creativity kicks in for Kim Lakin who learns “not to be too quick to discard anything. It takes time for materials to become familiar enough for me to start working with them.”



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