Recology San Francisco, Art at the Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure and Hannah Quinn
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure, and student artist Hannah Quinn on Friday, May 17, from 5-9pm and Saturday, May 18, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 5-7pm. Please note the new Saturday hours and additional Tuesday viewing time. Music will be provided Friday night by dj Joshua Pieper and on Saturday The Insufferables will perform. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.
Benjamin Cowden: Lunar Cassowaries
The cassowary, a large flightless bird, serves as a point of reference for Benjamin Cowden’s series of kinetic sculptures. Cowden’s works explore motion, flight, and wind-propulsion via unlikely combinations of found materials. Cowden has modified kites, umbrellas, and wind sails to make wing-like forms, but much like the cassowary, these winged creatures don’t leave the ground. They do, however, move or respond to human interaction—often in surprising ways. Cowden has harvested motion sensors from outdoor lights and novelty candles, and in combination with windshield wiper motors, tent poles, fishing reel gears and his own skillfully designed circuits, has created works that not only use, but generate energy.
Cowden explains, “In a society so focused on energy consumption, it seems especially fitting to re-purpose the detritus of that consumption not only into works of art, but into devices which in turn create their own energy.” Cowden’s sculptures also prompt us to think about our relationship to the natural world. The crafting of bird-like forms from the waste stream in turn poses questions about the waste stream’s effects on actual birds and other animals. Assembled together his sculptures appear like residents of a sanctuary for the rarest and most unusual of creatures. But unlike the cassowaries which are truly endangered and whose future is uncertain, these mechanical beings made with objects from the waste stream are here to stay.
Cowden received his MFA in metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondate. He is an instructor at the Crucible in Oakland and has been an artist-in-residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Cookeville, Tennessee and at Monochrom in Vienna, Austria.
Ian Treasure: Road to Nowhere
Commonplace symbols and objects so ubiquitous in our lives that we hardly give them a second thought are the subject of Ian Treasure’s work. In his sculptures and installations he employs repetitive forms and modern mechanics in tandem with the playful use of time and duration. Works have an anthropomorphic quality, demanding our attention with sounds and movements filled with personality. Humor and surprise are key components, but works also have an element of poignancy and provide space for reflection on the complexities, as well as absurdities, of life.
In Treasure’s Road to Nowhere a small toy taxicab travels on a never-ending journey. Less a feel good road trip than an existential expedition, the taxi rides along a conveyer belt highway, following an infinite dotted line. Unlike a car, symbolic of individual exploration and freedom, the taxicab speaks to relinquishing or losing control of the journey—be it in our own lives or on a larger, societal level. When placed against the backdrop of the dump, it can serve as a metaphor for loss of control over our consumption and its environmental implications. Treasure’s other works include a group of trouble-maker school desks and a liberated drum snare.
Treasure received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been an artist-in-residence at the Djarassi Residency Artist Program in Woodside, California. He has participated in exhibitions in London, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, California.
Hannah Quinn: Beyond the Bower
During her residency Hannah Quinn has created functional works that reference the traditions of craftspeople and home hobbyists, while also exploring utilitarian forms. Quinn has scavenged wood of all kinds—from a skateboard maker’s scraps to legs pulled from old tables and chairs—to play with the shapes of benches, stools, ladders and other simple, yet versatile objects.
A homemade stool has served as the model for Quinn’s own series of stools. Years of wear and repair visible in the old stool point to a time when furniture and household items were not disposable commodities, and illustrate how this basic object functioned within the life of those who used it. Quinn’s stools—50 identical forms out of construction-grade lumber scraps— illustrate the abundances of modern life and pose questions about mass-production vs. the homemade. Her stools also pay tribute to the original object’s maker and caretakers, and act as blank canvases for future lifetimes of use and repair.
Quinn, who is an undergraduate studying furniture design at the California College of the Arts, identifies one of the motivations behind her work as the desire to create objects that promote human interaction. Quinn will also exhibit small found items as scientific specimens, highlighting beloved tools and oddball objects found in the discards from home and professional workshops.
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over ninety-five professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.
Reception-Friday, May 17, 2013, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 5-7pm
Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA
Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.
Guest blogger, Risa Buck, Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Ashland celebrates art made from what would have been landfilled.
Last Wednesday, April 17th Ashland, Oregon celebrated the grand dedication of its first 100% recycled content mosaic. This mosaic resulted from the joint inspiration of Recology and City of Ashland’s North Mountain Park personnel, who recognized the need to upgrade and revitalize the trash and recycling collection station, while at the same time finding a unique way to reinforce the importance of reusing items once destined for the landfill.
Mosaic materials, including glass, metal and plastics were all sourced locally and recovered from local businesses, homes and the Valley View Transfer Station. Among the many items found within the mosaic are bike chains and sprockets, liquor bottle bottoms, plastic and metal lids, bricks, keys, and jewelry. Local artist Sue Springer, of Illahe Studios and Gallery, was commissioned by Recology to create a nontraditional mosaic of recycled materials, creating this beautiful rendering of the “three R’s”. The goal was to create a colorful, permanent and surprising assemblage of materials, to change thinking about trash and recycling. Remember, “it’s only trash if that’s how you treat it”.
The community, both young and old, has responded with delight.
Following the mosaic dedication, Marinel Baker, Recycling Attendant at Recology Ashland, and me, gave a presentation that led participants on the trail of trash and recycling collected in Ashland & Talent, including an interactive activity to learn “what goes where and why” .
Go Zero Waste with Recology for Earth Day!
As part of our continued work to move the communities we serve closer to sending nothing to the landfill, Recology would like to invite people around the world to join us in going zero waste for Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd.
What does zero waste on Earth Day mean?
On Earth Day, many Recology staff will try to not sending anything to the landfill for one day – meaning only using and discarding items that are recyclable or compostable. Take your lunch in reusable containers instead of single use packaging, or only buy lunch in containers that are compostable and recyclable.
Document your experience.
As part of going Zero Waste for Earth Day, we’d like to hear about your experience in trying to send nothing to landfill for a day. Document your day with photos, videos, a blog post, or any other way you’d like! After Earth Day, we’ll compile all of the thoughts and media we received into a blog post, to be posted at blog.recology.com.
Some ideas for what to document:
- What was difficult about going for zero waste?
- What did you find yourself having to avoid that you normally would have taken or bought?
- Did trying to go zero waste for a day change how you think about purchases, waste, or recycling?
Any and all thoughts and ideas are welcome – we’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Students of teachers Sandra Sperow and Dawn Tesarowski from Audubon School in Foster City were awarded first place. The fifth grade class was rewarded with $500 by RethinkWaste for their “The U.S.A. Just Got Recycled Map”.
Second place went to Shelly Jones’ fourth grade students at Fiesta Gardens International School for “Young Shadows: Homage to Louise Nevelson”.
Third place went to Kathie Strafaci’s sixth grade class at St. Charles School in San Carols for “Tiger,” a representation of their school mascot.
Winners will receive their awards on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM-2PM at the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos.
For more information, visit www.rethinkwaste.org.
The Great Compost Giveaway
5 Gallons Free
Saturday, April 6, 2013
8am – Noon
Bring Your Own Bucket!
THANKS FOR MAKING SAN FRANCISCO A LITTLE GREENER.
San Francisco is now 80 percent of the way to Zero Waste thanks to the recycling and composting you do every day.
In appreciation of your efforts, Recology is giving away 5 to 10 gallons of a gourmet planting mix made from food scraps and plant trimmings composted by San Franciscans.
Join us at one of the following locations to pick up your free compost!
— Amphitheater Parking Lot
John F. Shelley Dr. at Mansell St.
850 Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Fulton St.
900 7th Street at Berry St. (enter on Berry St.)
To register, visit: recology.eventbrite.com.
THIS IS A BRING YOUR OWN BUCKET EVENT!
The Great Compost Giveaway is an annual event hosted by Recology, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Department of the Environment all working towards Zero Waste by 2020.
Guest Blogger Robert Reed is the public relations manager for the Recology operating companies in San Francisco. Robert lives in San Francisco with his daughter August and their Boston Terrier Peanut, a.k.a. Cacahuète. This article appeared in Waste & Recycling News as a Guest View on March 4, 2013.
It is just as easy to put your coffee grounds in a compost collection bin, if your city permits, as it is to throw them in the trash. This simple act benefits the environment in multiple ways, is literally changing our industry, and, most importantly, supports the good health of you and your family members.
I know a bit about nutrition, but I cannot name one food that offers 10 health benefits. Yet I can easily list 10 benefits achieved through composting. Here are just a few: Compost returns nutrients and carbon to the soil, gives farmers a viable alternative to using liquid (or chemical) fertilizers, retains rainwater allowing farms to reduce irrigation and energy usage, and softens soil so plant’ roots can travel further and reach more nutrients.
Compost, particularly compost made from food scraps, is rich in nutrients because it is made from a diverse feedstock. In San Francisco’s urban compost collection program that feedstock includes leftover takeout from Chinese restaurants, pasta from North Beach, and, yes, coffee grounds from the many coffee shops across the city.
Compost made from food scraps stimulates microbial activity, which brings new life to soil. To help people better understand why that is important we publish an ad showing an apple core falling into a compost collection (green) bin. The headline on the ad says “Feed the soil. It feeds us.”
Recology, San Francisco’s homegrown recycling company, started collecting food scraps for composting in 1996. The city instructed us to roll the program out citywide in 2001. Customer participation was voluntary. In 2009 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring “all properties” to participate, and today Recology collects 600 tons of food scraps and plants a day for composting.
Many cities and hundreds of universities have added food scrap compost collection programs, and the movement, for the reasons stated above and others, is gaining great momentum. The Washington Post told the story within the story on Feb. 3rd in their report titled “Composting efforts gain traction across the United States.”
Writer Juliet Eilperlin reported:
Environmentally minded city leaders have adopted “zero-waste” pledges, noting that traditional trash disposal not only wastes material that can enrich soil but accelerates climate change. Organic matter decomposing in landfills accounts for 16.2 percent of the nation’s emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts are all phasing in bans on putting commercial food waste in landfills.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and really get after it. The EPA reports that Americans generate approximately 35 million tons of food scraps annually and of that total only 3 percent makes it back to the farm. The vast majority goes to landfills or incinerators.
Eilperlin insightfully noted these points: Major trash industry operators have sometimes fought government requirements to divert waste because they operate landfills. Many communities have contracts with waste incineration sites, making it harder to develop organic recycling sites. And the nation’s trash disposal system lacks the ability to process food waste on a large scale.
We need to permit more compost facilities and we need to utilize modern technology at those facilities. When we do that, more cities will be able to establish curbside compost collection programs and we will continue turning a negative (landfill emissions) into a positive (returning nutrients and carbon to local farms.)
Are people across the country really going to do this? On Feb. 13th, in his final state-of-the-city address, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, announced “This spring we’ll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island for composting. If it succeeds, we’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.”
This represents a major shift.
Some of the best minds in American agriculture sounded a call, in a book published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking large cities to establish food scrap compost collection programs to send nutrients back to farms. When was the book published? 1938.
It has taken 75 years, but cities are responding, and people like it. We are becoming keenly aware of our environmental challenges. Composting at the curb gives us a way to participate in a program every day that makes a positive difference.
Waste engineers report that typically between 40% and 60% of the material cities send to landfill could instead be composted.
“Trashed,” a new film hosted by Jeremy Irons, visits landfills around the world, discusses nano ash that escapes from incinerators, and highlights San Francisco’s compost collection program.
In December “Trashed” received a lot of attention from the New York media, and Irons was asked “What can we do?” His response: “Find out where your garbage goes.”
That’s what the French call “une bonne idée” (a good idea.) Here’s another one: If you are not already doing it, start today. Compost.
San Francisco Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Michael Damm, Julia Goodman and Jeff Hantman
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Michael Damm, Julia Goodman, and Jeff Hantman on Friday, January 25, from 5-9pm and Saturday, January 26, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, January 29, from 5-7pm. An artist panel discussion will follow at 7pm at 401 Tunnel Avenue. Please note the new Saturday hours and additional Tuesday viewing time. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.
Michael Damm: Incidental Films for an Accidental Audience, On Tunnel
During his residency Michael Damm has created a new video installation for his ongoing series, Incidental Films for an Accidental Audience. In these projects, Damm uses rear projection to present site-specific videos at night in large windows or doorways along transit corridors. Geared to an audience of commuters or others who may serendipitously find the work, the installations present fleeting glimpses of familiar, yet nonspecific scenes of urban life, and reflect back the viewer’s own lived experience. Works serve as sites for cognitive disruption, momentarily shaking viewers from their mental routines and leaving fragments of images for the viewer to take away and puzzle out. At Recology, Damm will use a series of windows in the Environmental Learning Center at 401 Tunnel Avenue as his projection screen. The installation will be viewable throughout the month of January (excluding Wednesdays) from dusk to midnight.
Damm’s second installation work, viewable only during exhibition hours, uses images from a scavenged collection of slides taken by a photojournalist. Damm has layered multiple shots of specific scenes to create complex readings of past events and explore perceptions of time, history, and representation. The majority of photographs were taken at political events in the 1980s that have long receded from public memory. Deprived of their temporal context and documentary underpinnings these scenes of public diplomacy and governmental machinations become generically enigmatic instead of historically significant. Through the overlayering of multiple shots—each minutely different, yet of the same scene—Damm has created images that move into one-another and then quickly slip out of reach. Work captures the banality that surrounds the pursuit of the photographic “decisive moment,” while also speaking to the slippery nature of documentation in general, and how some events are historicized while others are relegated to the landfill.
Damm received an MFA from Mills College. He has exhibited widely in the Bay Area including at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, and has exhibited in venues internationally including in Brazil, Germany, England, and Macedonia.
Julia Goodman: Rag Sorters and Star Gazers
Though Julia Goodman’s primary medium is paper which she makes by hand and uses to create sculptural forms, the vast offerings of the dump have inspired her to venture from this predominantly muted, monochromatic world and explore new materials and vivid colors. A found collection of water-damaged glass photographic slides, in combination with a personal interest in astronomy, has resulted in a body of work that references the power of the night sky. Resulting images are dreamy views of terrestrial scenes merged with celestial forces. Other works address ideas of navigation, and the role of the stars as literal and figurative guides.
In a separate body of work, Goodman returns to her paper-making practice and looks at the intertwined relationship women have had with rag paper over centuries—both as procurers and providers of the fabrics used in its production. Bringing a San Francisco focus to this history, Goodman interviewed a former Recology employee and learned that it was not until compactor trucks were widely used in 1964 that the city’s garbage collectors stopped gathering rags for recycling. Prior to this date, collected fabrics were brought to a room where female employees sorted them, doing dirty and difficult work. Having learned the names of several of these women, Goodman set out to honor them in her own papermaking practice. She replicated their process by sorting fabrics she had scavenged and then pulped the material. Using pre-1964 elegant fonts found in ephemeral materials such as Metropolitan Opera programs, Goodman recreated the women’s names in carved molds. She then pressed the pulped rags into her carvings to create her tributes. Elevated from their humble employment, Rita Bianchi, Maria Tringale, and Josephine Grosso’s names appear in grand style in Goodman’s paper relief works.
Goodman has an MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts and a BA in International Relations and Peace and Justice Studies from Tufts University. She has exhibited widely in the Bay Area and has participated in residencies at J.B. Blunk Residency in Inverness, California, and at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Kona, Hawaii.
Jeff Hantman: Unassigned
Jeff Hantman combines a range of techniques and materials to create three-dimensional paintings that bow and bulge out from the wall. Hantman’s background as a woodworker informs his process which requires bending and shaping found materials, especially plywood, to create the rounded forms he uses as his canvases. Works are covered with materials chosen for their graphic or textual quality and then layered with his silkscreened and painted imagery. Signs of wear, stains, paint, and other remnants of the material’s previous use are incorporated into the pieces that are influence by deteriorating structures such as old barns or water towers, as well as personal memories of places and events.
While at Recology, Hantman has expanded his practice to include free-standing sculptural works. Now viewers can walk around his forms and view the frameworks that underlie his characteristic curved shapes, seeing interiors which are as visually compelling as their exteriors. Some works include a mechanical element, and the combination of this with Hantman’s weatherworn iconography results in sculptures that appear like obsolete contraptions or mysterious machines from a bygone era. Hantman describes these new pieces as the manifestation of childhood daydreams—fantasy objects built from the unlimited contents of the toy box that is the Public Disposal and Recycling Area. Much like his three-dimensional wall works that defy easy categorization, these free-standing assemblages provide space for interpretation rooted in imagination and memory.
Hantman received a BFA in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has participated in residency programs at Kala Institute in Berkeley and the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California. His work is in the collection of the Alameda County Arts Commission.
Reception-Friday, January 25, 2013, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, January 26, 2013, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 5-7pm
Artist panel discussion-Tuesday, January 29, 7pm at 401 Tunnel Ave.
Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA
Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible. http://www.recologysf.com/AIR
Last week, Time Magazine published an article that asked “What If the World’s Soil Runs Out?” The article highlighted the growing shortage of topsoil around the world due to unsustainable agricultural practices.
Topsoil is a living thing—it is the top 2 to 8 inches of soil where most of the microorganisms live and where plants put the majority of their roots. These microorganisms transform and recycle the topsoil material that they eat. We need them to make soil usable and livable for other organisms higher up on the food chain. They also are the tiny architects that structure soil so that it can retain moisture.
The article suggests that we have only about 60 years-worth of topsoil left. The reason is that most agricultural practices, even the ones practiced in European countries, strip the soil of carbon and nutrients. Soil is primarily eroded in three ways:
1. We take more carbon than we put back. Some fields are burnt after a harvest to clear them. Others are stripped to feed animals. In both cases, carbon is moved out of the growing cycle.
2. We misuse fertilizers. They provide nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and because plants will grow when these nutrients are available, we think that is all they need.
3. We also over-work the land through over-ploughing and over-grazing.
Through composting yard debris and food scraps, we add carbon and other key nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, back to the soil. Our efforts to return valuable nutrients and carbon to the soil are among the best examples of how to address the world’s soil nutrient shortage. You can learn more about the good things compost does for farmers, the environment and consumers in the WASTE ZERO section of Recology.com.