Beach trash turned into artwork

Matt DeYoung • Jun 14, 2019 at 4:00 PM

For years, Barbara Carlson has wanted to do a project transforming beach trash into works of art.

This spring, Carlson — who runs the Armory Art Center in downtown Grand Haven — found her chance. The art center shares space in the Armory Building with Aldea Coffee, which organized a beach cleanup on April 20.

“I stole the idea from the Red Lotus Gallery in Muskegon,” Carlson said. “They partner with a group and they do a beach cleanup project every year. When I found out Aldea was doing a beach cleanup, we’re in the same building and we talk all the time, so I told them I’ve really wanted to do this project.”

After the cleanup, Carlson and others sorted through the bags of trash and plucked out items they felt could be used to create works of art.

“We went through all the junk people were bringing in, and we pulled out things we thought was interesting or useable,” she said. “I didn’t know how much interest we were going to have. We only had 1-2 people who had said yes. Then, all of a sudden, I had a flood of interest.”

Carlson ended up putting 16 boxes of beach trash together. Each artist who signed up then took that box of trash and incorporated what they found into their artwork.

“We had shoes, balls, a lot of little cigarillo tips, along with some wire that was pretty cool,” Carlson said. “We had a lot of plastic pop bottle caps, caution tape. There were some gross things, too, but we didn’t include that. A lot of bits of glass, rope and some big plastic mesh piece. I’m curious to see what that turned into.”

The artwork is now on display at the Armory Art Center, 17 S. Second St. Carlson said the building's tenants — Righteous BBQ, Grand Armory Brewing, Aldea Coffee and the Armory Art Center — will each choose their favorite piece of artwork.

A reception is set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, where the winning artwork will be recognized.

Young Artist Program

The Armory Art Center is hosting a program for young artists this summer.

The Young Artist Program will take place Tuesdays. Ages 5-8 will meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon, while ages 9-12 will meet from 1-4 p.m.

The program focuses on drawing and painting through fun, age-appropriate activities.

Children are encouraged to wear old clothes and bring water and a snack. Some events will take place outdoors.

For more information, contact Barbara Carlson at 616-638-0873 or email armoryartcentergh@gmail.com.

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