January 15-21, 2004
"Saving Philadelphia: The Art of the Dumpster Divers"
From their roots in fellow homeboy Leo Sewell's "Junk Sculptures" to their exposure with organizations as far-ranging as the Please Take Museum and the collections of Ripley's Believe It or Not museums, Philly's Dumpster Divers have had a formidable ride since their 1992 inception. Artists/designers/trashmen Len Davidson and Neil Benson, along with the likes of often-controversial sculptor Sewell, mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, metallurgist George Bilyk, archivist Jenna Dohrmann and more than 30 other locals, have taken "Dumpster diving" beyond the anarchist, sociopolitical rhetoric of radical nonconsumption into the pragmatic act of creation. "Our cause is salvage and resurrection of the quality of city and suburban life," Davidson has said about turning broken plates, appliances, fashion items and old signs into new signifiers. Take that, Julian Schnabel. So, there is, surely, the necessity of life's recycling involved within each artist's assemblage. But from Ellen Sall's tea-time creations (pictured) to Eva Preston's winsome Afro-tapestries to the fantasmagorical designs wrought (literally) by Warren Muller, one sees individual inventiveness as mother, with garbage as the stepdad of found-object art. For this exhibit of the DD collective and its 12-year history, an array of disarray based upon Philly's "broken relics" will be on display, with the artists themselves present on Thursdays through Sundays to discuss the pearl-diving behind their aesthetic gems.
"Saving Philadelphia: The Art of the Dumpster Divers," Jan. 16-March 14, opening reception Fri., Jan. 16, 5-9 p.m., Sedgwick Cultural Center, 7137 Germantown Ave., 215-248-9229. Leo Sewell demonstration, Thu., Jan. 22, 3:30 p.m.; Len Davidson-led panel discussion, Sun., Jan. 25, 1-5 p.m.; Isaiah Zagar slide presentation and "Meet the Artist" day, Sun., Feb. 15, 2 p.m.