Oftentimes, it takes a group effort to install a 150-pound chandelier.
That’s what the working members of the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff discovered when they needed to install a massive, wood-and-metal chandelier sculpture made from tools and recycled metal parts.
“We were so lucky that the Flagstaff Mall was able to send their maintenance people in to get this piece installed,” said Mike Frankel, executive director of the Artists’ Coalition. “They helped us get the chandelier attached to a roof beam to get it installed safely.”
This work to help install the work is a demonstration of how the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff has found a sturdy partnership with the Flagstaff Mall. The Coalition’s gallery relocated to the mall as a tenant last year, and this is the first year the recycled art exhibit has taken place there. As one of the organization’s biggest shows, the mall has opened up its space to allow some of the larger pieces to display in the mall’s common areas.
The 14th Annual Recycled Art Exhibition runs through May 1. Gallery hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The exhibition also will feature six demonstrations, including three this week: printmaking from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. today; bamboo necklaces 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday; metal sculpture on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.; and magic with markers 3-6 p.m. next Sunday, April 10. Learn more about the show at www.flagstaff-arts.org.
As the annual event closes in on 15 years, Frankel noted that a key change has been opening up the geographic region of submitting artists. The Artists’ Coalition this time invited artists from Yavapai County to participate. This allowed Dennis Taylor of Chino Valley to submit his piece, “Chandelier,” this year. Other artists from Verde Valley, Sedona and beyond are also part of the collection, which includes around 100 pieces.
Along with a new cadre of artists, Frankel and other members of the Coalition expect to see a new and different audience.
“We’re still going to see the people who have come to shows in the past, but the mall and the traffic here is going to open up the exhibition to a whole other group of people,” he said. He noted that the Prelude exhibit, which displays artwork of participants in Flagstaff Open Studios, showed at the mall and was one of the most successful exhibits for sales and foot traffic.
The Artists’ Coalition also has formed a strong partnership with Hozhoni Foundation, an organization in town that assists developmentally disabled adults and has a strong arts program as well. The Recycled Art Exhibit displayed at its gallery last year.
In terms of style and themes of the recycled arts this year, Frankel noted that a lot of pieces have a notable “industrial quality” to them, some of them almost appearing inspired by steampunk — where anachronistic science fiction meets 19th century industrial aesthetics.
“We do have a number of pieces of art that carry strong political statements,” Frankel noted. “We have art that deals with pollution, global warming and gun control. We also have one piece about overpopulation. It’s a meld of political statements that are in there, but we also have several pieces of abstract work and art for art’s sake.”
One of the contributing artists to the show, Dudley Bacon of Flagstaff, submitted a piece called “Hearts and Flowers Ensemble.” It’s a prime example of how art with recycled materials can be rich and complex.
“I spend about 60 or 80 hours over three months making it,” Bacon said. “I used egg cartons and boxes from my Internet shopping habit. I also used magazines and catalogues and a wood burner to help create it.”
The detailed work is played to striking effect, with the texture of the cardboard and the tightly knotted magazine pages creating intricate flowers. The approach to art with the cardboard and paper products shows the blend of imagined reuse and artistic creativity.
“Quite a few people show up at Recycled Art and a light bulb goes off. They get an idea in their head and they show up with a piece next year,” Frankel said. “It really stimulates people in that way … You don’t have to be an artist to be a part of this. You just have to have a great idea.”