The Year in Recyled Art

One man's trash is an artist's pile of gold.

By Brangien Davis and Bond Huberman December 2, 2011


This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Best Reason to Skip the Recycling Bin: Scott Fife’s Corrugated Sculptures

Local sculptor Scott Fife, who manipulates old cardboard as if it were fresh clay, left little corrugated lines on our hearts when he displayed his gorgeous, life-size bear-head sculptures at Platform Gallery last May through July. Rowr!

Best Use of Grandma’s Bric-a-brac: Nick Cave’s Soundsuits

Last spring, Chicago-based artist, fashion designer and creative genius Nick Cave filled the Seattle Art Museum with larger-than-life “Soundsuits” made out of doilies, Beanie Babies, plastic birds, crocheted hot pads and other detritus he found at junk shops. The clever, ebullient show may have been solely responsible for getting us through that steely gray weather.

Best Way to Get the Public to Stumble Upon Art: Mad Homes

Local art project Mad Homes gave five Capitol Hill houses slated for demolition a thrilling swan song last summer, selecting 14 local artists (including Luke Haynes, Allan Packer and Seattle mag Spotlight Award winner Troy Gua) to amplify the edifices however they chose. A few of their neat tricks: upholstering walls in used clothing, wrapping exteriors in plastic and/or red webbing, and cutting through the floors and installing mechanical sculptures. In the process, they turned the structures into modern-art mandalas, where passersby and walkers-through could experience the transformative potential of art.

Best New Use for a Telephone Booth: Gallery (206)

Packed with works by 206 (get it?) Seattle writers and artists, Todd Jannausch’s diminutive Gallery (206)—an old telephone booth installed in Occidental Park—probably boasted the highest capacity of art per square foot of any other venue in Seattle. (It also gave new meaning to the phrase “phone reception.”) Bonus: Despite fears, it was never vandalized during its three-month long summer installation.

Best Spin on a Bad Situation: Storefronts Seattle

The nonprofit Storefronts Seattle project continues to enliven empty windows in Pioneer Square and the International District by awarding local artists temporary (three- to six-month) stays in vacant retail spaces. Artists can use the spaces as either working studios or art venues. Either way, storefronts are full of art, art makers and art appreciators, all of which gives a boost to blocks hit hard by the economic downturn.


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