From castoffs to art

The materials used for the annual Art Eco show seem endless.

Anne Gill Kellogg used a window screen she found next to her trash cans as her “canvas,” and Meryl Perloff incorporated Chinese newspapers.“I use them a lot in my work,” Perloff said. “It gives an added dimension.”

Reappropriation is the thrust for this “green design” show at Frame Works gallery. For many artists, such as Peg Grady, Carol Paulsen and Mary Ann Statler, working with found and recycled materials just comes natural, as they often turn trash into treasures.

For this exhibit of reclaimed materials, Maggie Ragatz stacked soiled Styrofoam cups for “Chain of Consciousness.” Sue Hogan formed a necklace of old watch faces for “It's Later Than You Think” and Stephen Plowman gave empty wine bottles a second chance as tree branches in “Second Growth.”

Glass artists Larry LeBrane, Richard Mortenson and George Jercich gave new life to glass scraps, fusing them in clever ways.

Exhibit coordinator Sara Egerer has again creatively transformed the Exacto knife blades she uses to cut mats for the frame shop.

The show has grown so much since its inception five years ago, Egerer said, that future exhibits will be held at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, which will receive 15 percent of proceeds from the current Art Eco show and sale.

Los Osos artist Kellogg was already busy with some projects that fit the exhibit's theme. She had cut up some of her life-drawing figures, “like big paper dolls,” and fabric scraps. “I hodgepodged them on the screen,” she said. Pleased with the results, she found 14 more window screens for $10 at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, and she's now on a roll.

The newly retired art therapist, teacher, and family counselor has personally benefitted from her art therapy for five years, since a daughter was killed in a bicycling accident. Kellogg snipped cloth from her daughter's clothes to use in her artwork, finding the process healing. “I feel that art's a guide to the inner self,” she said. Most of her work has to do with social justice, said Kellogg. “I guess I want my art to speak about things that are important.”

Books are important to Perloff, especially their form, which, through her book art, became a personal expression. About 10 years ago, someone showed her how to create a hand-made book. “I really responded to the materials and the technique,” she said, and she's been doing them since. A San Luis Obispo resident since 1976, the former interior decorator who also designed Dina P purses found a walnut case in an antique store which she's filled with tiny books she crafted. “They certainly can be written in, but that's not mandatory,” Perloff said. “They're pretty small, to start with.”

The work is time intensive, and she couldn't even begin to calculate how long it took to make her entry for the current exhibit. Perloff first used a wooden box to contain some of her book art after a friend gave her a leftover wooden gift box, figuring she could put it to creative use. “So, I got to work and filled it up,” Perloff said.