valentine's day trip to the dump, san francisco 2003
it was actually the day after valentine's day when we went to the dump to take the monthly free tour of their sculpture garden and hear about their artist in residence program.  sanitary fill company (sunset scavenger, golden gate disposal, norcal waste systems), right next to candlestick park, has this cool program where they offer access to materials (pretty much first pick of everything that comes into the station, which handles all of san francisco's garbage and recycling pickups), an expansive work space with almost every tool and implement you can think of, including a room-size glass kiln, a monthly stipend, and other resources at the fine facility known affectionately as the dump.  there are three or four residencies per year, and sometimes artists share a residency and the stipend.  be sure to check out the official norcal site for all the artists in the program.

the tour began in the education center with a quick visual presentation about trash and recycling, and a description of the artist in residence program.  the night before, there had been well-attended and well-received show and reception for the previous artist and her work.  that meant that this day was the first for the new artists, isis rodriguez and nicole repack, a comic book artist and graffiti artist who were sharing their residency.  they were bright-eyed and eager to meet their first visitors, looking over the facilites they now had at their disposal (little trash joke).

we walked through a huge spooky room filled with trash and another giant room with trash trucks dumping into a big central pit.  there was a bulldozer partially submerged in the pit to push the trash around with.  it was all chaotic, weirdly-lit and large, although not too noisy or smelly. 

then we walked up into the area where people are unloading and sorting non-trash type recyclables - items good enough to go to saint vincent de paul thrift store, furniture snatched out by antique-savvy trash guys, and a lot of just plain discarded stuff.  the workers have made their own art installation around the crest of the hill overlooking this part of the operation - the first thing you notice is the seemingly endless line of toy construction vehicles snaking around the hilltop.  you start thinking about all the little kids whose toy trucks ended up here in this parade...  there's an enormous fuzzy tiger of some asian persuasion, and a lot of other animals too...  this is a fine installation and very cheerful.

next we went out across the grounds and up the steep curving drive to the art studio.  inside we got to see nicole and isis again and some of the studio space and tools and the glass kiln, and a convoluted shadowy storage space for the work of previous artists and lots of interesting stuff on its way to or from being incorporated into art.  there was a boat made of books with maps for sails, mysterious-looking faux musical instruments and machinery, and a lot of other great wacky stuff.  if I had an attic, it would be filled with stuff like this.  a previous artist had found a camel saddle in the trash, and so of course had to build a camel to wear it.

from here, we head outside again and up the steep stairs to the top of the sculpture garden.  the three-acre garden is filled with cool sculpture and installations made by previous artists.  the garden itself is california native plants that take little care on this wind-swept hilltop and look great together.  be sure to see the professional presentation too.

as we walked back to the education center, I found this thing on the ground.  what is it?  it is very heavy for its size (about 1 inch by 2 inches); the hinge is at the top of the relief of the city on terraces, so it's not a belt buckle.  could it be a drawer pull?  recognize the city, or the constellation?  got an idea?

we passed by the saturday morning line of pickups waiting to leave their yard trimmings or house clearings or whatever at the dump and recycling center.  back where we started, mark got a cd of music made by a previous artist on stuff he selected from the dump, and we walked out under the rainbow arch of colored plastic bottles.  what a dump!

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spring 2004: rick carpenter's art at the dump

please check out the official norcal site for all the artists in the program

we really liked the rick carpenter artworks, and he was a friendly guy, too (that's him in the porkpie hat).  his work had a sort of mandala thing going on with circular forms made of repeating shapes and really showed where it came from - no disguising any materials here.  here's a piece called "skaters" - one of a group of two or three - made from the brass supports that held a bannister on the wall by the stairs at a school, til the workmen ripped them off the wall, deforming them.  there was one medium-sized piece made from an entire dinette set - somehow I don't have a photo of that one, but here are some others - one   two    three    detail of three    four    five.  

the art shows at the dump have a fantastic feature - there's always a lot of stuff sitting around the area right outside the gallery - things that the artist/s snagged to work with but didn't get around to using.  the gallery guests are free to scavenge whatever they want from these piles.  some people even skip the wine and food table and go right to the free stuff, but we try to be polite and look at the art first.  anyway, we got a treasure that night.  it's out in the backyard right now - it's a beautiful old brass and glass oil-burning lantern.

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early 2005 art at the dump
by viviana paredes
and mark faigenbaum

here are just a few of the pieces at the first dump art show of 2005.  there were lots of wonderful things - I really mean Wonderful, they were just the kind of thing I like best, assemblages of old odd stuff with words and pictures and actual objects.  there were so many people at this show that it was very difficult to take photos - it was even a little hard to get close enough to look carefully at a lot of things, but here are a few, mostly details of larger works -  one    two    three    four   for a little better look, please check out the official norcal site for all the artists in the program.

our scavenged treasures this time included this ornate interlocking thai food container (15  inches tall), a box full of ancient sewing notions (sew-on jammie snaps, hooks and eyes), a beautiful deck of swiss tarot cards and the fabulous Webcor Lark - 3 speeds and works fine (needs a stylus).

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