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MAY 2007

San Francisco displays garbage art

Colorful aprons made from plastic bags and tarps. Furniture and sculpture shaped from discarded wood and metal. Paintings created with recycled paint and other found objects from the city dump.

You can view these uncommon pieces at “The Art of Recycling Returns,” an exhibit in the lobby of the Mills Building at 220 Montgomery Street in the heart of the city’s Financial District.

The exhibit includes 52 works by 20 artists who participated in the Artist in Residence program at SF Recycling & Disposal, the city dump.

“The exhibit gives our tenants a compelling image of how recycling affects us all,” said Chris Wong of The Swig Company, LLC, which owns and manages the Mills Building. “I think these pieces make us much more aware of the environment and what we throw out.”

Getting people to think about garbage and recycling is just what San Francisco waste haulers had in mind when they began the Artist In Residence program in 1990. Since then, more than 60 artists have completed residencies.

Artists living in the Bay Area apply to the unique program; those offered residencies are given 24-hour access to a studio at the dump, tools and equipment, and permission to scavenge through 80 tons of material a day.

Artists employ wood, metal, rubber, packing foam, recycled paint, fabric and even toys salvaged from garbage piles to create their pieces.

“The pieces displayed represent a cross-section of works from the program,” said Kerri Hurtado of Artsource, the San Francisco company curating the Mills Building exhibit.

This exhibit is open to the public through June 1.

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