Renewing the old

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By Nancy Coombs

When we see trash on a trail, whether we ignore this detritus of human existence or we pick it up, our perception of an otherwise pristine wilderness is altered.

Yet if the crushed V8 can and the bottle cap are arranged on an old wooden plank, we are presented with an alternate reality.

The current exhibit at the Art Center at Fuller Lodge, “Everything Old is New Again: Recycled and Experimental” provides a unique opportunity for contemplating this dynamic.

Kathleen Fraser’s photograph, “London Bridges” provides a thematic interpretation, capturing the interplay of moss covered stone pilings standing sentinel beside the metal spans of a more contemporary bridge on the Thames, backed by a modern high-rise. Katherine Gauntt’s experimental “No Rules” slashes slogans of rebellion across the canvas in an old medium (paint) with a newer style (graffiti).

Many artists focused on the recycled aspect of the theme, transforming trash to treasure. Patricia Stein’s unusual bricolage collects the V8 can with other bits of discard in a piece called “Roadkill.”

This presentation calls attention to the shapes and textures of things normally overlooked. Fused glass artist Trish Reed melted beverage bottles, collapsing them while creating a sense of softness in the material. Chris Judson took a contrasting approach, arranging sharp- edged bits of green glass in a tree-like mosaic on mirrored tile.

“Everything Old is New Again: Experimental and Recycled” literally defines Gilbert Candelaria’s artistic process.

Candelaria, a regular favorite at the Art Center, shows six pieces, which range from the whimsical to the disturbing. An oil can has become a cute elephant nightlight in “Beto Hears a ‘Que’!” Candelaria’s other pieces combine assorted metal pieces into social statements.

Leftover scraps of paper and cloth assume a large place in the collection, as seen in the collage work of Mary Carol Williams, Sue Ellen Hains, and Christine Brown and fabric pieces by Terelene Foxx, and Linda Benson Cox.

Melissa Alexander stated on her entry form that her scarf, “Good to the Last Drop,” is knitted from “bits of yarn too nice to throw away.” Ann Schafer took a slightly different approach, weaving her piece with silk yarn created in Tibet from recycled saris.

The many examples of assemblage in the show range from Glen Comtois’ striking wall pieces with cut wood bits puzzled together, to Mya Arnone’s experimental “External Magic,” a gnarled tree elbow transformed with neon and a dressed feather wand.

Maggie Tomei cobbled together a bewitching creature called “BE” from doll parts and a vacuum tube, alongside her shadowbox in which a glass plate negative is backed by an old music box that plays “Memories.”

Josephine Boyer built “The Nations United,” a stamp encrusted topographical globe, while working at the UN in Vienna. Julia Dougherty saw a new potential for spent ammunition shells - as wind chimes. In a different vein, her ghostly “Family – External View” showcases porcelain masks on a pebble covered tray.

Linsay Locke presents several pieces, gathering assorted cast-offs into interesting collections. Thelma Hahn’s “The Ghost Ranch Angel Sings” is encircled with a collapsed tail pipe.

Marcia Clasgens also used old wood for her canvas, featuring St. Francis and Don Quixote in a different light. Jennifer Moss, a jeweler, designed new work out of old, with her “Butterfly Belt” including copper butterflies straight out of the 1940s.

Stone slabs serve as a background for simple line drawings shaped out of metal in the pieces by Kathleen Mohar. A mother and her babies parade past in “Quail.”

Bernard Franz, a sculptor who works in metal, melted old lead pieces to form a man bending his legs in a might push for “Iron Man Door Stop.” In Virginia Westray’s works, enameled copper pieces are gracefully woven into symmetrical designs. Learning that the copper is recovered from LANL just sparks another layer of interest.

Poetry leads the way into the Portal Gallery, with “Visual Verse,” quilts created under the influence of haiku by the Art Quilt Study Group. Each quilt is accompanied by the Haiki which served as its inspiration.

Everything Old is New Again will exhibit at the Art Center at Fuller Lodge through Oct. 11. The Art Center is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Further information is available at www.artfulnm.org.

Editor’s Note: Coombs is the communications coordinator at the Art Center.