High trashy

Most of the work at Grovewood Gallery has a conservative, high-craft feel. Not so with the flamboyant new show Trashformations.

Susan Hayden’s chairs are made from discarded tools.

Not that the work isn’t crafty. Continuing a tradition more than a century old, Trashformations brings together the work of five regional artists who create art from recycled and found materials.

“I grew up moderately poor, and I used to make stuff from junk when I was just a kid,” says artist John Richards, a Burnsville resident and the exhibit’s organizer. “I got to be the leader of the gang at 7; I could make better guns than anyone else. World War II was still going on.”

Richards, a Burnsville resident and member of the Toe River Arts Council, organized the exhibit. His colorful and intricately textured pieces range from surrealist, wire-knotted sculptures to kitschy home décor items, such as decorated sculptural lamps, mirrors and loosely functional ornaments.

Richards is a member of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City.

All of the artists use their own style and method of reassembling recycled material, resulting in the dramatic rebirth of the objects into trash-art constructions. Here’s a look at the other participants:

Frame of mine: Rolf Holmquist’s bottlecap frame.

Susan Hayden’s work settles in between aesthetics and function, as many of her recycled constructions double as furniture or other useful items. She also creates animal lawn sculptures.

In the Trashformations exhibit, Hayden will display one of her chairs constructed from discarded tools. She describes herself as an avid collector of unused, unwanted and forgotten items, as she rummages through flea markets, yard sales and trash piles from Tennessee to South Carolina.

“I’ll find stuff on the railroad tracks, and it’ll make my day. I’ll see something lying in the road, and we’ll have to stop and get it,” she says.

Hayden is a frequent participant in the Grove Park Inn’s annual birdhouse competition (she won first place in 2003) and will be featured on HGTV’s Offbeat America.

Rolf Holmquist is another veteran visual artist. He has widely exhibited his diverse work in several media for more than four decades. He has explored his artistic energy in the form of aesthetic medical embossings to finely crafted birdhouses. Holmquist is also a member of the Toe River Arts Council, and recycled constructions are some of his favorites.

“I have a lot of recycled materials that people give me,” he notes. “The Biltmore Iron & Metal Company is my favorite place.” He manifests his talent through precise drawing techniques and carefully balanced structural compilations, like a circular, all-black, metal-and-wood piece partially formed from used tools that will be included in the Trashformations exhibit.

Julia Masaoka primarily creates iconic and shrine-based works focused on the Virgin Mary, made from a colorful array of pull tabs, bottle caps and mosaics. Her art uses the halo as a central aesthetic around her goddess-centered pieces. Masaoka studied with Elaine de Kooning before exhibiting nationally and abroad.

Robert Seven is perhaps one of Asheville’s most noticeable eccentric art figures. From his award-winning mobile-art experiment, the Emerge-N-See art ambulance, to his prints, sculptures and poetry, he continues in his position as a person of intrigue.

[Alexandra Minor studies print media and art history at UNCA.]

who: Artists Susan Hayden, Rolf Holmquist, Julia Masaoka, John Richards and Robert Seven
what: Trashformations, an art exhibit using recycled and found materials
where: Grovewood Gallery (on the grounds of the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa)
when: Opening Saturday, Nov. 8, 3 to 5 p.m. (Show runs through January. Additional artist meet-and-greets scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 29 and Dec. 13. www.grovewood.com or 253-7651)

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