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One Man's Trash: Turning discarded materials into works of art 

Customers stopping into Pakit Liquidators this past weekend, hoping to quietly pick up a replacement door handle or storm window, got a surprise.

click to enlarge culture_trashformations.jpg

Customers stopping into Pakit Liquidators this past weekend, hoping to quietly pick up a replacement door handle or storm window, got a surprise. Giant metal and, well, trash sculptures were displayed along Pakit's lawn and a purple hearse topped with a black ambulance siren welcomed customers and visitors. Inside Pakit, the near-eastside liquidator and all purpose secondhand/junk store, people of all ages and artistic abilities picked through piles of Pakit's inventory. But instead of a storm window, they were looking to find the perfect "finger" for a garbage gargoyle, or a wrench that best suggested a trumpet player's forearm.

For the past ten years, Central Oregonians have gathered at Pakit Liquidators to create artwork out of trash. Well, not trash exactly, but scrap metal, light fixtures, doors, and pipes - if you find it, you can use it. The perfectly named Trashformations event costs $25 for adults, $15 for students and this year's proceeds benefit the Bend's Community Center, the local non-porfit that provides a range of services to low-income Central Oregonians.

The owner of Pakit, Pat Korish, originally got the idea for Trashformations from the TLC TV show, Junkyard Wars. However, Korish's project has a much more communal atmosphere. "It sometimes surprises me how mellow people are," says Korish. "They're sharing and they're giving each other ideas and tools."

Korish, who runs the event with friend and artist, Buffalo Folsom, beams when he talks about the project, from which he receives no revenue. "Being in the business that I'm in, I get a bit like a fanatic, seeing how much goes to waste," he says. "[Trashformations] promotes reuse and rethinking and reducing what you use."

Korish set up a barbeque, fire pit and bought hamburgers and hotdogs for the participants, many who stayed until 11pm on Saturday and nearly as late on Sunday finishing their projects. Participants ranged from established artists and mechanics to teenagers and children with their parents. Projects included Folsom's wrench and scrap metal Horn Player, a giant letter block made from lattice fencing, a lifelike Bob Marley and an enormous nose with a broom brush for nose hair titled "Allergies."

"I'm making a giant paper airplane, says Blake Babb as he removes his protective ear muffs. Blake, a grade schooler, sifted through the giant bins of items corralled by Korish and Folsom before deciding to construct an airplane using duct tape, cardboard tubing and sheets of thick brown paper.

"Their creativity will blow you away," says Korish of the younger sculptors. "With adults, it seems that we build a form that we're familiar with. These kids don't - they go where they want to go, and they really turn out some pretty amazing stuff."

Charles Finn, a freelance writer, was participating in Trashformations for the second year in a row. Finn, who constructed a chess set out of doorstoppers, door handles and metal fixtures, returned for the creative opportunity as well as the crowd.

"It's one of the more honest, down-to-earth events in Bend," Finn says. "They're not your normal folks - they're kooky in a good way. I like the people you get to meet and you see some pretty interesting ideas."

On Friday, the sculptures created at Trashformations will be transported to The Old Mill, where they will be on display until May 8. Artists have the opportunity to keep or sell their works. "The spirit of [Trashformations] is not to destroy something that has value," says Korish. "It's to take something that needs a new use and create something out of it."

The Trashformations

art exhibition will be hosted by The Shops at the Old Mill from April 17 to May 8th, with an artists' reception on May 7th.


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