In early 2010 I got wind of Appliance Depot's upcoming exhibition of appliance-related art that kick-started my creative inclinations, after having resisted them for the previous four years.
In 2007 we moved to Bellingham from Denver, where I had run a successful business designing and building one-of-a-kind steel furniture and sculpture. For me, few things are more rewarding than the creative process - from the flicker of an idea through the fabrication process to the sale of the piece - it was a great way to earn a living.
Our move to Bellingham took me in other, less creative, directions for the first few years, but art gradually bubbled back into my consciousness. I found myself collecting odd but interesting items and combining them into found-object assemblages - primarily ray guns, robots and race cars. The search for parts was and remains the most challenging and rewarding part of my day.
A single piece of "junk" is often all it takes to inspire a project. Most of the components in the finished sculpture are recognizable and invoke curiosity, pleasure and wonder for the viewer, which to my mind is part of the purpose and beauty of art.
The rules of that 2010 Appliance Art Revival were to use at least 50 percent appliance parts in the creation of the art. This was right up my alley, so I entered and ended up selling every piece.
I have been madly making these odd, eclectic sculptures ever since.
One of the most appealing things about this show is that a portion of the money raised goes toward providing job training for low-income individuals.
Appliance Depot's non-profit program has existed since 2005, and last year 40 people were aided in their return to the workforce. Old appliances are donated by the public, refurbished and cleaned up by the trainees, then sold again to fund the program.
In this organization, I found an opportunity to get involved in the Bellingham community, continue with my artistic pursuits and help to reduce our impact on the earth. I guess you could say that while the Appliance Depot gets people back to the workplace, it got me back to making artwork - something I love and didn't realize I missed until I started creating again.
This year's appliance art is currently on display at Boundary Bay Brewery. There are about 40 art pieces being shown by many of Bellingham's best artisans. Pieces can be bought right off the wall or at the main event's silent auction.
The Appliance Art Revival culminates on Saturday, June 2, at 5 p.m. with a big derby-style race. There will be nearly a dozen brave and inventive souls racing their derby carts made from recycled appliances down the hill on Maple Street, next to the downtown Farmer's Market. Visitors can preview the carts prior to the race at the market and vote for their favorite throughout the day. The derby is guaranteed excitement for the entire family. You'll surely see plenty of thrills and spills. Last year there were nearly 2,000 onlookers viewing the spectacle.
The big party and silent auction follows the race in the Boundary Bay Brewery beer garden, where the remaining unsold art pieces will be sold to the highest bidder. Yogoman Burning Band is the featured entertainment this year.
It's amazing to see what people can do with old appliance parts. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize where the pieces actually came from and it's a fun surprise when you do.
The process of taking junk - discarded items that are headed to the landfill - and turning them into an outstanding object of art (or racecar) is very difficult. The challenge for us as artists is for the finished product not to look like a bigger pile of junk than when we started, and this show accomplishes that.
I believe this is the only event of its kind in the country, so save the date. It is great fun and is sure to make you smile. It may even motivate you to enter an art piece or build a derby cart for next year's event.
You can reach Graham Schodda at email@example.com or go to gschodda.com.
ABOUT WINDOW ON MY WORLD
Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.