Thursday, June 23, 2011

Salvaging Art

All of the items in Collective Upcycle were intended for a recycling center or, worse, a landfill. But thanks to crafty local artists, materials such as plastic bags, bicycle gears and seat belts have been salvaged and transformed into trendy purses, wind chimes and belts.

The shop, located at 6710 Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District, is open for a limited time, from June 11 to July 3. Late last year, to promote “reuse artists,” local artist Nicole McGee launched a pilot store, The Pop-up Gift Shop, in Trinity Commons for the holidays. It proved popular, so she’s back at it with the new name Collective Upcycle and 30 artists. Although the store is new, the name has been on her mind for 2 1/2 years. It represents the idea of coming together, she says, and “taking something else and giving it a new, creative life.”

McGee, who markets her own art under the name Plenty Underfoot, says the store represents Cleveland’s up-and-coming reuse economy.

“There’s this creative force of people who are not buying something new at the craft store,” she says. “For me, and I know for other people, there is something inherently creative about taking something leftover and saying ‘What do you want to be?’ and ‘I’m going to turn you into it.’”

One artist featured in the store converts wedding dresses into christening gowns. Another makes furniture out of wood from deconstructed Cleveland buildings. Anita Tucker of Wine2Wick repurposes wine, beer and liquor bottles into candleholders.

“It's extraordinary how many bottles go into a landfill that aren't recycled,” Tucker says.

She says the store has provided her with a community of artists. They help each other out by saving items others use for art. Friends say her art gives them a motive to drink wine so they can give her the bottle. She even sees customers bring in items for artists to use.

McGee doesn’t plan to operate the shop full time, but she assures customers that Collective Upcycle will pop up again somewhere in the city in time for the holidays. Stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of Collective Upcycle

1 comment:

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