Call it what you will – trash art, folk art, or junk art – some of the most imaginative artwork to be found in Sonoma County is made from discarded or recycled material.
Head to Sebastopol’s three-block-long Florence Avenue for a free sculpture tour of “trashy works” jointly made by Patrick Amiot and his wife, Brigitte Laurent. Amiot creates the sculptures and Laurent bestows their bright-hued paint jobs.
Back in 2001, Amiot placed a large sculptural piece that he’d made for fun – an outsize fisherman fashioned from an old water heater – on his front lawn. Neighbors loved it, and nearly every Florence Avenue front yard sports at least one Amiot-Laurent sculpture. So do quite a few local businesses. Map for a Patrick Amiot Sculpture Tour in Sebastopol.
Sebastopol’s Renga Arts carries not only Amiot-Laurent sculptures, but works by other artists who specialize in using reclaimed, salvaged and recycled materials. Among them are Santa Rosa’s Monty Monty, who transforms cast-off objects into complex assemblage pieces; Occidental’s Josef Szuecs, who transforms reclaimed wood into furniture; and Rio Vista’s Jim Bauer, a creator of robot sculptures made form vintage metal objects such as coffee pots.
Another good destination for junk art: Swede’s Feeds, located on Highway 12 in Kenwood (between Sonoma and Santa Rosa). The works here, more artisan than art, are one-of-a-kind, useful, and attractive additions to gardens and homes.
Consider, for example, the metal multi-story bird houses, fountains, and garden stakes. They’re fashioned by artisans in Mexico and made from old cars, oil barrels, signs, machinery gears and other discards.
And then there’s the selection of beautifully made items crafted from wine barrel staves: wine racks, chairs, tables, and more. “They’re made by two guys who work at a winery,” said owner Mike Scheffer. “They do excellent work.”
And if you’re joining the growing ranks of backyard chicken farmers, you might like Swede’s nearly-indestructible coops made from reclaimed redwood, or the recycled redwood line of bluebird, bat, owl, and other avian-specific boxes.