Fine Art Made From Recycled Objects in Sonoma County
Some of the most imaginative artwork to be found in Sonoma County is made from discarded or recycled materials.
There is something so intriguing about taking old and familiar objects, and crafting them into something delightfully different and creative. Whether you call it trash art, folk art, or junk art, here's a quick roundup of where to view a few of these recycled wonders in Sonoma County.
Florence Avenue, Sebastopol
Head to the three-block-long Florence Avenue in Sebastopol for a free sculpture tour of "trashy works" jointly made by Patrick Amiot and his wife, Brigitte Laurent. Amiot creates the sculptures from found objects—old cars, cookware, discarded pipes, aluminum trash cans, and more—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 now sports at least one Amiot-Laurent sculpture. So do quite a few local businesses.
To explore other displays of outdoor sculpture that include several pieces made with recycled materials, take Highway 101 to the communities of Cloverdale and Geyserville in northern Sonoma County. You'll find artwork scattered throughout these two towns.
Hosted by the Geyserville Community Foundation, the Geyserville Sculpture Trail includes more than 25 pieces; some are on permanent display, and others will rotate. The foundation posts a gallery of the sculptures, in order from south to north, and a downloadable sculpture trail map.
Run by the Cloverdale Historical Society, the Cloverdale Sculpture Trail is an annual juried display; 12 artworks are selected each year, with awards for Best of Show, Honorable Mention, and People's Choice. An audio, self-guided tour by Octocast includes an interactive map of the Cloverdale Sculpture Trail, with descriptions and directions for wherever you are. The historical society also offers an online overview of the current sculptures on display and a trail map.
Other Artists, Countywide
Of course, these permanent exhibitions in Sebastopol and along the Highway 101 Sculpture Trail are just a sampling of the creative recycling efforts by Sonoma County artists.
Many work with "found" or "junk" materials, and display their pieces in seasonal shows, festivals, or other events (with upcoming dates and other details listed on the artists' websites). Here are a few:
Monty Monty (Santa Rosa) transforms cast-off objects into complex assemblage pieces.
Josef Szuecs (Occidental) creates figures and other works from obsolete materials and reclaimed wood.
Jan Schultz (Petaluma) repurposes vintage and welded-metal objects into striking and sometimes whimsical figures and structures.
While the items at Swede's Feeds garden, pet, and feed store in Kenwood may be more artisan than fine art, they are also one-of-a-kind, useful, and attractive. The eye-catching metal statues out front typically might include a 10-foot dinosaur, an eight-foot rooster, a raging stallion, and all kinds of metal chickens, goats, sheep, and more.
Be sure to check out 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. Or, 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.