At the hands of a skilled artisan with an eye for aesthetics, a hodgepodge of junk can become an intriguing work of art.
Local folks with a fondness and knack of working with castoffs, found items, and scraps are exhibiting their work in “Connections with Nature: Art-Eco in the Garden.”
The show focuses on art made of reclaimed or natural materials, according to curator Sara Egerer of Frame Works Gallery, which cosponsors the exhibit at the Botanical Garden. More than 50 works by 28 local artists are featured.
Some artists didn't exactly fudge, but all of their materials weren't specifically re-appropriated or natural materials.
“I don't really use recycled glass,” acknowledged Rod Baker of Los Osos who is exhibiting pots filled with blown-glass flowers. They are, however, natural enough to fool Mother Nature, as some pig-weed has sprouted in one of the containers.
But another of his entries, “Lifeline,” fused glass held by a hand-carved wood frame, fits the criteria.
“It's birch that I've had for 25 years,” said Baker, who salvaged the lumber from his scrap pile.
Janine Kirkpatrick, who became interested in folk art while serving in the Peace Corp in Ecuador, created a framed work containing an elaborate pattern she wove from secondhand neckties. For another wall hanging installation, “Sea Turtle,” Kirkpatrick, a the Templeton resident wove, sewed and painted fencing material, a plastic drop cloth, and window screening.
Rick Cohan of Pismo Beach assembled “Honor Guard for the Unborn” and “Unknown Soldiers Grave” from an army helmet, gun parts, and other military accoutrements. He partitioned them off with stanchions, each topped with an oversized black-and-white pool ball, intended to imply what many Vietnam veterans like Cohan feel: implying how many Vietnam veterans, which Cohan is, feel: behind the 8 ball.
Cambria's David Schieb kept it simple by fastening gray stones to represent clouds onto lightly etched sandpaper for a 3-D seascape.
Even lowly bottle caps, normally useless once removed, after they've served their intended purpose, are transformed by imaginative crafters. Cayucos scrap collector April Kluver strung them to form two snakes, one with red, black and white rings, another mufti-colored. Maggie Ragatz of Morro Bay smashed them, the caps, not the snakes, to decorate a mirror frame.
And beverage containers were the material for Rich Lasiewski of Arroyo Grande, who fused plastic cobalt-colored water bottles to create “Blue Star.”
Broken garden tools inspired Santa Margarita's Mike McNutt to weld “Bird 1,” whose beak and crest are the business ends of a pick ax, as a spade blade serves as back and wings, a portion of the handle its neck. The yard art is right at home in the display garden, along with McNutt's freestanding “Bell 1,” an oxygen container with a hidden clapper creating a deep rich sound.
An abundance of contributions by Stephen Plowman and Carol Paulsen of Los Osos and Jack Biesek of See Canyon are placed among the plants as well, ranging from sculptures of wood, stone, and metal to glass wind chimes.
Weather-sensitive works are safe inside the Oak Glen Pavilion.
A percentage of sales proceeds benefits the Botanical Garden.