The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden offers some strange fruits.
A large-mouth bass dangles from a branch, a metal sculpture sways in the breeze, colorful rings tinkle and glass flowers sprout from a gravel bed.
They are all made from reclaimed materials as part of the Eco-Art in the Garden exhibit coordinated by Frame Works Gallery.
Among the professional artists and craftsmen in the show is one newcomer, Stacey Kolegraff. Her “Garden Angel” and “Rusty Rooster” are assembled with a tractor drive sprocket, a small old jack, a plow tooth, gate hinge and garden cultivator.
“My dad kind of has been collecting old pieces for as long as I can remember,” Kolegraff said, and she periodically rummages through his findings. This is the first time she’s done an art project. Her father, George Melvin, welded the parts together following her design. Melvin’s work, a firepit fashioned from a wooden wagon wheel part, is also on view.
Other objets d’art are scattered about the grounds among the Mediterranean-climate plants. Some offerings that need sheltering from the elements are inside the Oak Pavilion, such as Sara Egerer’s silk tapestry, Carol Paulsen’s giant insects, Brian Robertson’s cedar table, and Don Pimentel’s glorified chessboard.
Many of the artists have exhibited at the annual Eco-Art show at Frame Works where Egerer is gallery director.
The most profuse offerings are those of glassblower George Jercich. His “Vitreous Desert” includes dozens of containers, flowers and creatures, in myriad hues.
When it comes to the variety of art offered, Paulsen and her partner Stephen Plowman receive the winning bouquet. Plowman’s metal art pops up throughout the landscape, and includes a teapot and spoon gate, serving its purpose on a walkway. The couple fused talents in creating some of the work, such as “The Sapling,” of recycled steel, copper, a farm disc, glass and plastic bags.
Another team that sprouted up among the artists is Fred and Donnell Pasion, whose “Garden Mushrooms” are made of sand-cast concrete and glass.
Larry Le Brane bestowed botanical-sounding titles to his work of fused glass and found objects such as “Glassicus Cacticus Castoffula” and “Glassicus Cacticus Discardarubia.”
Gerry Bradford created an interactive piece, a gong. “Wild Flowers” is a large freestanding frame of eucalyptus, with a suspended iron oxygen tank into which Bradford cut a flower design. Hanging from the frame’s post is a covered item that visitors may clang against the tank to hear the tones and feel the deep vibration.
Egerer once again shows her talent with a different medium, with two lamps and the geometric patterned tapestry, assembled from remnants of materials used in the framing studio.
Jack Biesek’s carved stones mounted on wood augment the Zen-like serenity of the garden setting.
To some artists, there is no such thing as junk. It’s all material for their creative projects. Just as compost begins as garbage and becomes plant-nurturing mulch, castoffs, through the artists’ imagination and skills, have become art.