Trash gets a makeover at annual Recycled Arts Festival

Event returns with more artists, complementary Green Living Showcase

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator



If you go

What: The eighth annual Recycled Arts Festival will feature 120 artists, information booths about recycling programs, music and entertainment, and activities by OMSI and SCRAP. New this year is the Green Living Showcase of environmental ideas for the home.

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 30.

Where: Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.

Admission: Free.

Telephone: 360-397-2121 ext. 4352.


The genre of recycled or found art could be defined by the prompt, "This looks like a …" And thanks to the Recycled Arts Festival, 120 artists can showcase their talents for transforming rusty refuse into objects that delight or challenge viewers to see trash differently.

"I'm a bit ADD and I always say, 'we have to try out something new,'"said Sally Fisher, sustainability specialist for Clark County's Department of Environmental Services. Being boring is not an option, Fisher added with a laugh.

Luckily, the community of artists that has grown around the festival is up to the challenge.

"We have 20 new artists this year, and even the people who come back year after year come up with something new and clever," she said. "That's the nature of found art." In addition to the artists' booths, the Sculpture Garden will feature 14 pieces vying for the People's Choice Award.

This will be Faron Evans' first time at the Recycled Arts Festival.

"I'm a bug person," said the Kelso artist said, who creates beetles from spoons and crickets from cheese knives. "I like each piece to be its own individual."

Evans takes most of his inspiration from nature, while adding his own humorous touches. But it's the micro scale of his art and attention to detail that helps his work stand out at such recycled art shows as Crackpots, held at McMenamins Edgefield In Troutdale, Ore., in July.

"It's funny what you can make stuff out of, and how much people appreciate it, and how they start to think about it," Evans said.

"The purpose of the festival is to heighten awareness of reduce, reuse and recycle in Clark County, and that mission never leaves our minds," Fisher said.

"There's quiet a bit of education. We try to sneak that in between the artists," Fisher said. "It still needs to be fun."

The Watershed Stewards of Clark County, Clark County Habitat for Humanity Store and the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association will provide local information booths.

This year's main stage lineup includes performances by Jugglemania, two marimba bands, and storyteller Will Hornyak. Activities range from learning circus tricks to face painting with Eartha the Ecological Clown.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will be hosting many activities on Saturday, including live bugs and reptiles, chemistry experiments and renewable energy demonstrations. The nonprofit group SCRAP will host a craft creation station on Sunday, using donated and unusual materials.

Education was also the driving purpose behind the Green Living Showcase, running concurrently on Block 10, cater-corner northeast of the park.

"The two events really complement each other," said Fisher.

The brainchild of Troy Johns, founder of Urban NW Homes, the space will feature 25 curated companies who want to embody green building practices. A team from Radio Disney will be on hand with a variety of sustainable activities for children.

For Johns, choosing to use solar panels, a green contractor or the right paint is just like knowing where your food comes from.

"You simply choose differently, you know you're getting a certain product," he said.

Each vendor will demonstrate new practices or products that match up with the ideals Johns helped implement with the Green Building Council.

"Eight-thousand pounds of garbage go into a landfill every time a house is built," said Johns, "but some builders recycle 85 percent of that, and the stuff that isn't, you can find across the park as furniture." Johns is already making plans for next year to include more vendors.

It's a familiar path for the Recycled Arts Festival.

"It takes a few years for an event to get into its groove," Fisher said, "and I think we've finally reached that point."