Taking Found Art to the Highest Level: Diverted Destruction 10 – The Alumni Show at Loft at Liz’s

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Above, gallerist Liz Gordon in her give-away installation room.

Through September 6th at Loft at Liz’s, the 10th annual Diverted Destruction exhibition is the perfect example that one person’s detritus is another’s – art treasure. Curated by gallery owner Liz Gordon, the show features the work of a number of renowned Liz’s exhibition alums: Aaron Kramer, Charles Dickson, Dale Brockman Davis, Dani Dodge, Dave Lovejoy, Doug Pearsall, Joe Davidson, Joe Sims, June Diamond, Mike Saijo, Pamela Grau, Rosalyn Myles, Ruben Acosta, Steve Olson, Teresa Tolliver and Terri Hartman.

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Over 60 artists have participated in the show over the years, whose mission it’s been to inspire people to be creative with items that would otherwise be thrown away. This year’s show asked participating artists to create works with the waste of items they personally use and customarily discard. Another change in this year’s show: while giveaway tables filled with found-art items Gordon collects have always been a part of the show, this year, Gordon installed a Projects Room Giveaway Installation as a part of the exhibition space. 

“I love doing installations. This year instead of throwing all the items out on tables, I decided to create an installation that resembles a store with all the items that I am responsible for disposing of. Everyday it is replenished because box lots come to the store everyday.When the show ends I find teachers to give all that is left.
The collection for the following year starts immediately, piling up in my garage or in The Artist Boxes until the last Saturday of June when there is the Diverted Destruction Opening Reception for that year,” Gordon asserts.

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Discussing what led her to start a found materials show and give away in the first place, Gordon explains “I’m passionate about this show. I believe it is important to be aware of how much garbage each one of us creates.  It is vital that we as consumers do the best we can to minimize the amount of landfill material we create.”

As the owner of Liz’s Antique Hardware as well as the gallery, Gordon has access to backlots with items that would otherwise be tossed; these are items she offers as part of the giveaway collection. “Many items that come in are broken, too new or not relevant to the store.  There is a section in the back alley of the store that we have always called The Artist Boxes.  That is where these types of items accumulate throughout the year,” she relates. “The first year I did Diverted Deconstruction, I thought to put those items on tables and give it away to anyone that may want to create Found Object Assemblage. A couple examples of the type of items that come in frequently are half hinges which are incomplete, another are damaged vintage glass doorknobs.”

Gordon says she decided to make her found art show an annual event immediately after holding the first one.

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“I saw the positive response to the works that were created and everyone had a great time picking through the heaps of giveaway finds.   By the third year, a free Assemblage Workshop was added.  Artists from the show are asked to come to guide those in attendance. This year we have had four workshops.”

Upcoming on August 19th from 2 to 4 p.m., artist Dani Dodge instructs.

“I also collect throughout the year my personal refuse to put in the giveaway.   Corks, bottle caps, magazines and much much more.  I often find items in the garbage.   The fabric stores in the area give me their sample books.. After I saw one of the stores throwing them in the dumpster I went around asking the stores for them instead of throwing them away.  They are delighted to have a place that they will be
used instead of being thrown away.  Artists need materials!” she enthuses.

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While Gordon is thrilled with each work in the current show, she says her favorites are Aaron Kramer’s kinetic toys and Charles Dickson’s feet.  “They are so clever and so much fun,” she says.

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Dickson’s mixed media left and right foot “Carbon Footprint” features a wide variety of colorful ephemera incased in plastic.

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Kramer’s toys include “Differential” which utilizes Pelegrino bottles to create a gravity-assisted fascinating motion sculpture. His “Intense Wood” is an artistic pinball machine.

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Dani Dodge’s “The Last Lamenting Kiss” utilizes items left over from her room-size installation “Personal Territories at Lancaster MOAH gallery, including mattress skin, stencils, fabric, thread, and even some of the boxes from the frozen meals she consumed while creating her work.

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Frozen food boxes, wedding dress tulle, and battery operated holiday lights are her medium in “I love you until the end of plastic.” Her glowing, dimensional wall sculptures are like celestial orbs in the gallery space.

The mixed media “All Lives/Black Lives Matter” offers Braille inscription on an otherworldly LP; Michael Hayden offers a series of encaustic and mixed media works that shimmer with blues and copper and aquamarine.

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June Diamond’s recycled glass, paint, and steel sculptures have an ethereal look; contrastingly, the pieces also evoke anchors as art form, utilizing chains and design angles that feel rooted.

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Pamela Grau’s sculptural works utilize tennis nets and metallic patina as well as other found objects, creating works that like her “Nubia” feel like icons from an ancient time.

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Ruben Acosta’s “At the Cross” and “Bits and Pieces” focus on wood among its found objects, the pieces feel burnished and ancient.

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Terri Hartman’s large scale chicken wire, newspaper, paper, and organdy thread “And Women Weep” resembles a suspended Egyptian sarcophagus.

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Indeed, there is a sense of reverence and elegy – as well as playfulness, an interesting and complementary dichotomy – in each of these works.

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In short, go for the art exhibited, attend a workshop, and stay for the long term in an awakened awareness of human wastefulness – and how we can utilize that waste to create something beautiful.

  • Genie Davis; photos courtesy of the gallery and Genie Davis