Trash is a pile of treasure for artists

Posted: Monday, July 05, 2010

KETCHIKAN - To most people, a rusted hunk of metal is junk that needs to go to the dump. To "Salvage Divas" Anne Fitzgerald and Rhonda Green, it's art.

Courtesy Of Rhonda Green
Courtesy Of Rhonda Green

At least, it will be once they're done with it.

The two women create art out of stuff they collect from a variety of places: the dump, the beach, the side of the road.

"Sometimes we stop and ask people if we can look in their junk pile," Fitzgerald said. "I'm always scrounging for anything that washes up" on the beach, such as boom chains.

From the items the women collect, they make a wide variety of objects, such as trivets, yard sculptures, benches, bird baths and lamps, some of which they have shown at the Blueberry Arts Festival and local galleries.

The two artists started working together about four years ago, said Fitzgerald. They are neighbors, and their sons were friends. Fitzgerald already had been making and selling trivets, and Green became interested in learning how.

Since then, they have expanded far beyond trivets, and named their business Salvage Divas.

"We let our imaginations run wild," Green said. "It's all one-of-a-kind. All different."

Fitzgerald said they have created some custom-order pieces recently, including a bench for a memorial, and she someday would like to make something really large as a public art project. The two also regularly create outfits for the annual Wearable Art Show.

Green said that often, the items they salvage are clearly meant to be a whale, a crab, an octopus, etc.

"Sometimes, we'll look at a piece of metal and see how it will work," she said. "Certain pieces of metal talk to you."

Not literally, she clarified.

They work with a lot of rusty metal, and Green said they try to clean it up a bit before spraying on a clear coat to help stop the deterioration. However, she said, the rust spots can add important texture or color to a piece.

"Sometimes the more beat up it is, the better it is," Fitzgerald said, adding that they both have fun recycling trash into treasure. "Some people's junk has some definite possibilities."

Recently, they have been scrambling to complete pieces, Green said, including "new stuff" made specifically for "Resurrected Radiance," an exhibit that opens Friday at the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council's Main Street Gallery.

One of the new pieces is a fountain they crafted using a large metal float and a rusty anchor, she said. Other items include wall hangings cut out of old oil barrels.

"Quite a lot of the stuff will be items that nobody's ever seen before," Green said.

"Resurrected Radiance" will be on display through July 30 at the Main Street Gallery.

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