Dumpster Divers RECLAIM Show at Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

 Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

After years of neglect, the 4600 block of Paul Street in Frankford is beginning a new life. Destination Frankford is transforming a formerly vacant storefront into an energetic art venue. The temporary pop-up art gallery will accelerate the process of neighborhood revitalization in Frankford.

Saturday, April 19 | 2:00 – 5:00pm
@ the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street
MFL to Margaret-Orthodox

Three separate exhibitions will each focus on one part of the theme:

RECLAIM will feature members of Philadelphia’s
Dumpster Divers. Saturdays from April 19 to May 17, 2014, the Dumpster Divers will RECLAIM discarded materials and transform them into new art forms. Seventeen artists who see the possibilities in trash and other under-utilized resources will bring a new awareness to the concept of “upcycling “to Frankford.

Participating Dumpster Divers include:
Sara Benowitz, Ellen Benson, Neil Benson, Carol Cole, Randy Dalton, Dan Enright, Joanne Hoffman, Linda Lou Horn, Ann Keech, Susan Moloney, Eva Preston, Susan Richards, Ellen Sall, Joel Spivak, Jim Ulrich, Sally Willowbee, Burnell Yow!


Destination Frankford is an arts-based initiative using MARKETING and CREATIVE PLACEMAKING to enhance and expand the resources of the Frankford’s growing ARTS, ARTISANAL INDUSTRY, and CREATIVE BUSINESS economy.

Destination Frankford is a project of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Local partners include the Frankford Community Development Corporation, Globe Development Group, and Philadelphia Sculptors.


Destination Frankford Supported By Art Place Destination Frankford is supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US.


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Archives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers Update

Part One of the exhibit ends April 24
Part Two of the Exhibit is Extended to July 22, 2014

Event Image

Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
Entrance: 917 Chestnut, between 9th and 10th Streets

Opening Reception for Part 2: May 2, 5:00 – 7:30 pm

Gallery Hours of Operation:
M-F:  8:30 am – 4:45 pm.
Second Saturday of each month: 8 am – 4 pm

A Photo ID is required to enter Federal Buildings.


Home Movies by Susan Richards

Home Movies by Susan Richards

The National Archives had miles of microfilm and piles of debris from moving records and renovations, doomed for the dumpster. “Call the Dumpster Divers!”  Who? The Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia are a group of over 40 found object artists, their artwork as diverse as the group and materials used. They were officially recognized with a 2012 City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Tribute for “helping to raise the consciousness of art lovers and heightened awareness of taking a creative approach to support a more sustainable city, country and world.”

This show is an unusual collaboration between two very different Philadelphia institutions and demonstrates the infinite possibilities available when we think outside the dumpster. Leslie Simon, Director, Research Services, the National Archives at Philadelphia said, “I challenged the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers to create art out of the debris from our moves and renovations. Materials included decommissioned ladders and carts, miles of microfilm and readers, aged leather book bindings, as well as decommissioned electronics and displays, posters, photographs, and lots of red tape.”

Archives Commemorative  by Ann Keech

Archives Commemorative by Ann Keech

As a loosely bound collective of classically trained and self-taught artists the Dumpster Divers’ unique found object artwork has been exhibited at the American Visionary Art Museum, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Art Center, Please Touch Museum, the Garbage Museum and many other regional and national exhibitions. They are featured in books such as FOUND OBJECT ART, books 1 and 2.  They established South Street galleries that have entranced more than fifty thousand people, while recycling these abandoned storefronts into viable neighborhood businesses. In the words of their founder, Neil Benson, “Trash is simply a failure of the imagination.”

Thus, in a new kind of alchemy, this partnership between the National Archives at Philadelphia and the Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia preserves, conveys and interprets stories of our pasts hidden in words and objects.

The National Archives at Philadelphia
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the record keeper of the Federal government. About 2% of all records created are preserved permanently and are available to the public, whether exploring family history, proving a veteran’s military service, or researching an historical topic. The National Archives at Philadelphia, one of 15 research facilities across the country, holds records of federal courts and agencies operating in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The records range from hand written 18th century customs manifests to 20th century scientific data.

Contact Gretchen Altabef about the Archives Alchemy Show:
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Dumpster Divers Workshop at the National Archives at Philadelphia

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Please join Dumpster Divers Gretchen Altabef, Joel Spivak, Neil Benson, Ann Keech, Sara Benowitz & Dan Enright in a workshop to transform discarded items from the National Archives at Philadelphia into works of art.

This is a wonderful opportunity for adults, children and families to create art using microfilm from Civil War tax assessments; reproductions from past exhibits; marketing collateral including: bookmarks, flyers, booklets, images & words; paper of various colors, sizes, weights and much more.


Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
Entrance: 917 Chestnut, between 9th and 10th Streets

Workshop: April 12, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

A Photo ID is required to enter Federal Buildings.


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FiberNext at Delaware Art Museum

Visit my blog for more articles like this: http://www.susanrichardsartist.blogspot.com/


This startling sculpture radiates a powerful presence.  I was immediately drawn to it as soon as we entered the Contemporary gallery at the Delaware Art Museum last Thursday.  Then I read the wall plaque about it.  It is called Cauda Equina, by Keith Bently (b. 1973).  “The artist drew on Victorian funeral rites to create a memorial to the thousands of horses killed each year in rendering plants.  Made over a 12-year period, the sculpture incorporates approximately 1.4 million strands of hand-knotted horsehair collected from more than 250 slaughtered horses that function as a mourning veil.”

I later looked at his website and saw that he has done other work using horse hair, this one using a tire as well:

The irony is that my friend and I were there to see FiberNext, an outstanding exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, co-curated by Carol Cole, one of our Dumpster Diver Divas.  Cole’s work is also in the exhibit, as well as work by Ellen Sall, another Dumpster Diver Diva, along with ten other regional fiber artists.  Photography was not allowed in the FiberNext gallery, but Ellen Sall’s compelling piece is on the museum’s website:

It is called Where is normal anyway?  and includes vintage fabric scraps, embroidery floss, gel pens, plastic veggie bags, and seed beads.  (2012, 13 x 13 1/2 inches).  Seen in person, it glows like a jewel, and draws the eye into its myriad details until one has entered an alternate world. 

Seeing FiberNext sensitized me to the tremendous range of what can be considered fiber-based materials.  As the exhibit’s write-up says, “Fiber art typically refers to works of art that incorporate fabric or yarn and favors aesthetic value over utility. Broadening the boundaries of this medium, the artists featured in FiberNext have branched out to incorporate an eclectic array of materials and techniques, including metal, digital embroidery, plastic, paper, clay, photography, wood, and recycled materials. Their works encompass a range of color, texture, and materials, and concepts such as community, gender, and upcycling.”

In the next gallery, seeing a sculpture made from 1.4 million hand-knotted  strands of horsehair, I thought “what an unusual form of fiber art!”  One of the unexpected residual benefits of having seen FiberNext is greater awareness of the many fibers all around us in our everyday lives, not to be taken for granted.

It was also fun to be at this museum for the first time.  I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area three years now, and this was my first visit to The Delaware Art Museum.  A permanent installation of Dale Chihuly’s glass flowers covers the two story glass wall entrance. It casts different light depending on the time of day and the season, a moving play of light.  You can see the sculpture garden through the windows.  There is a labyrinth on the grounds as well.  At the Autumn Equinox they have a labyrinth walk at dusk with luminarias lighting the way.  I’m tempted to go…


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Sally Willowbee at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore

Sally WillowbeeJoin Dumpster Diver and Outsider Artist Sally Willowbee at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore as she shares her travels seeking out found artists on the back roads of New Jersey and her own passion for work with recycled materials.

Sally is a self-taught furniture/cabinet/carpenter maker. She writes and designs books, many about artists who work with recycled materials and grassroots art environments. Her own story connects different parts of her life: politics, spirituality, concern for the environment, feminism, an interest in culture and class, creativity, and humor.




Big Blue Marble Bookstore My Life as a Trashy Woman & the Art of Finding Artists
with Sally Willowbee

3:00 pm on Saturday, March 22
551 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119


Contact Sally Willowbee:
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