Went Dumpster Diving at WICA—found some C.R.A.P.…

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Visual Art

BY DONNA HOOD
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
March 2, 2016

…and so did nine Whidbey Island multi-genre artists who combined their talents, skills and treasures to put together the Creative Recycled Art Projects show happening at WICA’s Zech Hall. C.R.A.P. will be open to the public the first two Fridays and Saturdays of this month: March 4 – 5 and March 11 – 12. Friday hours are 5:30 to 7 p.m. and Saturday hours are 1 to 5 p.m. The first glass of wine is free at the Friday, March 4 opening night reception.

Lucky me—I got a sneak preview of a few of the pieces. As you can imagine, words cannot do justice to this eclectic and unique display of art; you’ll have to see it for yourself (if for no other reason than to totally agree with me).

First there’s the life-size “Kit the Caboodlenaut,” the poster child for the show. Kit is the creation of Janet Pheifer who told me she created the dazzling piece so Whidbey Islanders could see that “junk” in the right creative hands can turn into a showstopper. It certainly stopped me.

Pheifer was one of 25 artists selected to adorn an astronaut’s suit for the 50th anniversary of The Museum of Flight. She painstakingly covered the suit with thousands of wine foils and other fun stuff. “By itself, junk is just junk.” Pheiffer said. “But in collage, it becomes texture, context, shape and color.” (photo by Marsha Morgan)

Janet Pheifer was one of 25 artists selected to adorn an astronaut’s suit for the 50th anniversary of The Museum of Flight. She painstakingly covered the suit with thousands of wine foils and other fun stuff. “By itself, junk is just junk,” Pheiffer said. “But in collage, it becomes texture, context, shape and color.”  (photo by Marsha Morgan)

Next, my eyes are drawn to what just has to be a “Buffy Cribbs.” I’m no stranger to Cribb’s well-known and adventurous mixed-media work. The whimsical wood and metal sculpture has something to do with elephants – just what that is, is up to you.

Cribbs creates imaginative and whimsical 3-D pieces using collected objects from both found and manufactured sources. (photo by Buffy Cribbs)

Buffy Cribbs creates imaginative and whimsical 3-D pieces using collected objects from both found and manufactured sources. (photo by Buffy Cribbs)

Moving right along, I spy an intriguing handblown glass and metal sculpture. It’s by Katrina Hude who, according to the description card, has created this 2-foot long Red Truck to entice viewers into creating their own story about this cast-off piece of history. Hude hints that the truck may carry a payload or dispense with a burden. I’m grateful she helped me see some symbolism I might have missed.

Salvage, nostalgia, reclaimed treasure, off-cast and unwanted material excess are all opportunities for creative dialogue about social and cultural behavior. (photo by Katrina Hude)

Salvage, nostalgia, reclaimed treasure, off-cast and unwanted material excess are all opportunities for creative dialogue about social and cultural behavior.  (photo by Katrina Hude)

When last I spoke with Kim Kelzer, she told me she was taking a break from making her trademark furniture. “Do we really need more stuff in our world?” she said. “My goal is to both re-purpose and elevate what we throw away. Found objects intrinsically carry a history that they can imbue in new work.” Well, the collage she calls “Standard American” certainly accomplishes her new objective. I can see a lot of conversation happening around this one.

Found objects intrinsically carry a history and are often inspiration for new work. In this collage, Kelzer’s materials are more than decorative; they are also a comment on the world. (photo by Kim Kelzer)

Found objects intrinsically carry a history and are often inspiration for new work. In this collage, Kim Kelzer’s materials are more than decorative; they are also a comment on the world.  (photo by Kim Kelzer)

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a screen of jewelry. I gravitate quickly. Now we’re talking my kind of art—functional. Sarah Primrose’s Rust Revival jewelry creations will be one of my purchases at the show. Primrose told me she’s always looking for found items or “treasures,” many of which she finds when she and partner Russell Clepper, locally known as the singing duo “The Muse and Eye,” go on their troubadour travels.

A line of jewelry Primrose calls “Rust Revival” features one-of-a-kind pieces made from rusted (and some not-so-rusted) discarded bottle caps and other metals. (photo by Janet Pheifer)

A line of jewelry Sarah Primrose calls “Rust Revival” features one-of-a-kind pieces made from rusted (and some not-so-rusted) discarded bottle caps and other metals.  (photo by Janet Pheifer)

Moving on to Natalie Olsen’s art, a wry smile comes across my face. Loincloths. The last time I was in Olsen’s weaving studio, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why do you keep so much stuff besides yarn?” There were stacks of Diet Pepsi tabs, a box of wine foils, red onion skins, scraps, bark, used paper towels and some other things I didn’t recognize. Capacitors? Really? Loincloths? Really? (Wonder if Natalie’s husband, Earl, will be changing his wardrobe soon?)

Olsen used up some of her stash creating a few loincloths. This one incorporates soda tabs and wine foils. Another is made from used teabags and a flattened wire coil, decorated with capacitors. (photo by Earl Olsen)

Natalie Olsen used up some of her stash creating a few loincloths. This one incorporates soda tabs and wine foils. Another is made from used teabags and a flattened wire coil, decorated with capacitors.  (photo by Earl Olsen)

Looking at the creations of Sara Saltee was an education for the not-too-deep-into-meaning art person that I am. What is an “assemblage artist”? I’m not sure, but if Sara is any example, they certainly create some thought-provoking objects.

Sara’s webpage describes assemblage as something that is “deeply grounded in reverence for things that are cast-off or left behind.” (Sounds a little like a definition for “junk,” but in a good way.)

Saltee’s one-of-a-kind assemblages and collages use the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, often alongside snippets of text, to express a poetic sensibility and a fascination with themes of identity, nurturance, and freedom. (photo by Michael Stadler)

Sara Saltee’s one-of-a-kind assemblages and collages use the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, often alongside snippets of text, to express a poetic sensibility and a fascination with themes of identity, nurturance, and freedom.  (photo by Michael Stadler)

Also intriguing are the creations of Johanna Nitzke Marquis. An impressive bio, telling us that Marquis was the first Director of Public Art in Washington and, later, a Seattle gallerist, prepares me to understand how her work reflects what she calls her political, personal and professional epiphanies. I translate that to mean that what I see before me demonstrates how vintage objects, combined artistically, can have meaning far beyond the vintage parts that create the art. Classic book covers and an old leather belt are much more than they appear.

Compelled to pass on the design qualities of old book covers, Marquis makes books of just the covers, in collaboration with Suzanne Schlicke. (photo by Richard Marquis)

Compelled to pass on the design qualities of old book covers, Johanna Nitzke Marquis makes books of just the covers, in collaboration with Suzanne Schlicke.  (photo by Richard Marquis)

I didn’t get to see the works of Fritha Stand as she is madly completing them for the show. Guess you and I will just have to see them for the first time together.

Image at top: Janet Pheiffer and Kit the Caboodlenaut  (photo by Marsha Morgan)

Artists’ websites:

Buffy Cribbs: http://www.cribbs-morrow.com
Katrina Hude: http://katrinahude.weebly.com
Kim Kelzer: http://milkpaint.com
Sarah Primrose: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PrimordialPath
Natalie Olsen: http://www.natalieolsen.com
Sara Saltee: http://sarasaltee.com
Johanna Nitzke Marquis: http://jnmarquis.com

Donna Hood is a writer, not an artist. She hopes her words, however, have inspired you to attend the show.

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