What a Journey

As the manager of the Zero Waste McMinnville Facebook page I see the issues that resonate with people.  I shared a story about a recycled arts festival about 18 months ago and there was some mild interest with maybe 20 likes. Four months later a similar story came to me and when I shared it again, the response was similar. Then a few months later I posted a third story and it went “viral” with over 100 likes.

So, after talking to a friend of mine who has been presenting her work at crafts and art fairs for years and hearing her response (“We should do this here!”) I popped over to a Facebook page for artists and artisans in the Northwest and posted a query. “We’re not planning this yet….I just want to know if any artists out there would participate if we did.”  Within a week I had the names of 60 artists.

So I decided my friend was right and together we got a small working committee together: Aundrea Harris, John “Sam” Houston, and my husband Graham and myself, Beth Rankin. We sat down the first time December 4th and started brainstorming ideas. We met almost weekly for at least 2 hours and each of us had lots of homework assignments.

One task that I took on was to identify more artists to issue direct invitations and not rely on posters and Facebook postings that we wanted artists to apply. In the course of a week, reading through numerous Facebook craft and art show pages and then on to Etsy searching for recycled arts and then on to Instagram, I identified another 90. We visited galleries in the area and got a lot of advice.

We set a response date and we formed a jury to review all the applications. The four of us on the planning committee were reading the applications as they came in, but the outside jury participant had no idea and came to the meeting with ideas of his own in case the work presented did not meet the quality we hoped for. He was blown away.

Participating as a jury member is interesting because you have to analyze  the work that it takes to produce something while suspending your own reaction to the art. That is one reason why there is a committee-to balance that “personal preference” factor.

The other reason the jury is made up of people from different artistic mediums is because the viewpoints of the general public has to be considered. However, as artists who sell to the public, we know there are  people who do not do that kind of work and thereby do not appreciate the effort to use creative ability and accumulated experience to produce the work. Many of us have heard “oh, I could make that” many times.  We also know few people actually take the time to learn and better that craft.  The artists who have built their craft into art are people whose work should be respected.

neckpiece Carla FoxMost people, we know, will be amazed at the offerings that the inaugural McMinnville Recycled Arts Festival will present. The concept of “trash to treasures” interests many, amuses some, but there are still people who are not convinced. For example, when I saw the neckpieces that Carla Fox will be offering, I knew the white one might appeal to a bride. I imagined a less expensive simple white sheath as a dress with this neckpiece as embellishment and believe some bride would feel gorgeous while keeping their dress budget more reasonable. So I contacted about eight wedding consultants. Seven never responded. One was offended I would think her clients would wear garbage. She obviously doesn’t understand and it was not worth the time to educate her with her anger so apparent. I had a festival to organize.

But you understand. You know that we can always increase our own personal sustainable practices. You appreciate learning of ways others reduce what goes to the landfill.

The community has responded in amazing ways. For example, I mentioned to one of the management at Recology that we wanted to put a street banner up over McMinnville’s NE 3rd Street, and he offered to pay for it. street banner bThat freed up money from our marketing budget and when I was contacted by That Oregon Life (in response to our press release) to see if they could help and I told them about Zero Waste McMinnville, they immediately reduced their fee for the services they would provide. Howie Harkema was happy to have us on his community access tv program, Speaking Frankly: and How We Doin?  . Then his camera person offered to come and take video. Other media have responded that they will come as well.

We can see the metrics of some of our advertising so we know we have reached a lot of people. We’re amused and excited by the number of people who have “purchased” free tickets on Eventbrite because we can see that Friday has a strong appeal to many.  When I started posting the artist spotlights on this blog and thereby on Facebook readership on both increased dramatically.  We know we have your attention. LOGO jpeg

My latest nightmare is that there was a traffic jam a la Field of Dreams……..bring it on!

Artist Spotlight: Carla Fox and Carla Fox Designs

 

neck 2

Carla Fox has been making stuff from cast offs, scraps and found materials since she started fashioning doll clothes from her mother’s sewing scraps as a child.  Both sets of grandparents, and my parents, lived with the notion of “use it up, wear it out, make do or do without”.  She comes by it naturally.

So, over the past ten or so years, it seemed like a natural progression from making “regular” jewelry from beads to using found items, broken jewelry bits and pieces,  and vintage jewelry.  “I love working this way, and I had so many more avenues to explore in making adornments and wearable art.  Why not go back to the fabric scraps?  I have saved so many designer samples from my previous profession, and had finally lit upon a use for them:  textile jewelry.”Image may contain: flower and plant

Now Carla almost exclusively experiments with repurposed or upcycled textiles, embellishing these pendants, brooches and collars with a multitude of items.  If she can sew or stitch it on by hand, she will use it.  If not, she figures out a way.  Carla says, “Each piece is unique, hand stitched and I never know where the process will lead me.  Or what the outcome might be. ”

neck e  neck h       Well,  as one of the members of the jury, I know exactly what I thought when I saw THIS piece. It screamed “BRIDE!!!!” to me. Immediately I envisioned someone on a budget buying a simple white sheath and then dressing it up with this.  neckpiece Carla Fox

 

I reached out to some wedding planners to let them know about our festival. Afterall, Carla’s neckpieces are amazing adornments, and so many of the other artists have items that would work as wedding presents or favors. And only one replied to me: “MY clients don’t wear garbage!” Her tone was so angry that I had even emailed her in the first place that I dropped it, but it sure was obvious she did not understand…..we are not presenting trash to the public with this Recycled Arts Festival, we are introducing the treasures that most people miss.  And YOU understand this….thank you!

Carla Fox and Carla Fox Designs are located at Table #22.