Art Watch 4/8-4/15 | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Art Watch 4/8-4/15 

In case you didn't already know, upcycling is quite a thing right now. Theoretically, artists have been creatively reusing objects and turning them into art for decades—Marcel Duchamp and the Dadists were doing it when they created their "ready-made" art in the early 1900s, and Robert Rauschenberg was incorporating trash into his mid-century collages way before it was cool. But it seems that within the last decade or so, "upcycling" has taken over a good chunk of the art scene—a trend which I find both visually and politically pleasing.

This weekend, I'll be hitting the Northwest Crossing neighborhood's Spring Fest, which this year is showcasing upcycled art and the kind of "green living" that I assume has more to do with energy efficiency and less to do with Bend's cannabis connoisseurship.

Northwest Crossing is a neighborhood "committed to sustainability," a somewhat fuzzy concept brought more into focus at Sara Bella Upcycled, where owner Sara Wiener upcycles plastic bags and wrappers into wearable art—trashion, if you will.

"Our business model specifically revolves around using trash," said Wiener. "We make art for change and to educate, reusing hundreds of bags daily, saving them from the landfill."

This weekend, the neighborhood's "Fine Artist Promenade" will be plush with upcyled art from more than 30 local and regional artists. Bend artist Nicholas Vracin, whose Nomad Leather studio creates handmade leather accessories for the modern nomad (I'm eyeing that beer holster on his Etsy), uses vintage tools and upcycled leather to create functional art.

Portlander Kristin Spear of Mossy Root Designs will showcase her one-of-kind recycled sweater fashions. Also in the upcycled fibers game is Eugene artist Tylar Merrill, whose whimsical and wearable styles are cozy and environmentally conscious. Local jeweler Cynthia Brown-Grochowski will be selling her bicycle spoke and gemstone statement bracelets.

Two other must-see booths: One from Scott Allen, of Relic Workshop, who won first place in the High Desert Design Council's 2014 Design Competition in the Re-purpose/Up-cycle category; and, another from artist Scott Lundquist who is making the trip from Emmett, Idaho, to show his upcyled art, which he creates from reclaimed and salvaged materials from architectural, industrial, and automotive sources.

"We try to salvage as much material as possible before it goes to the landfill," said Lundquist. "We use old windows and doors, molding, glass, hardware, stove parts, bed frames, barn wood, railings, and many other materials that we incorporated into the design and assembly of our artwork."

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