In anticipation of the annual Earth Day observance/celebration, which takes place each April 22, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity ReStore hosts its ninth annual Recycled Art Contest, with 116 recycled and repurposed works in what is surely the city’s most eco-minded annual art show.
The works, all of which are created with second-hand materials from ReStore as the primary materials, are on view at ReStore East, 420 S. 1st St., in Walker’s Point in conjunction with the Historic Third Ward’s Gallery Night & Day, April 20-21.
The public is invited to vote online and in the store for its favorite works and the five highest vote-getters will win shopping sprees at Habitat’s ReStore.
"I started this art show nine years ago as an AmeriCorps member with Habitat," says Jake Brandt, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity director of marketing and communications.
"At the time I was working in our ReStore and I always liked talking to customers about what they were going to do with the treasures they'd find. This exhibition is a way to shine a light on these amazingly talented and creative individuals, and give them a platform show off their work."
ReStore sold more than $2 million worth of product last year – you can read about how it obtains some of its materials here – helping to fund Habitat’s work around Milwaukee, including the Midtown 100 plan.
"This contest is meant to bring attention to the importance of reuse and recycling," says Brandt.
"Last year alone, Milwaukee's ReStores prevented more than 6 million pounds of usable materials from ending up in local landfills. Think about just a kitchen remodel and the waste that can go along with that. We can take those cabinets, those appliances, and give them a second life. The best part is, instead of ending up in a landfill, the sale of those cabinets funds Habitat's work in our community to help families in need of safe, affordable housing."
One of this year’s entries is 150 pounds of home goods, tools and toys welded into a weighty orb, made by Mark Winter.
"It’s like a big puzzle with no correct answer," Winter says of "Ball-O-Junk."
"It’s more a lesson in patience than anything. There tends to be more failure than success. It's about finding the right piece that fits next and then its heat and molding it to the ball."
Winter – who will exhibit "Ball-O-Junk" and a pair of smaller companion pieces in New York – says he’s a regular at ReStores.
"I'm always in the ReStores looking for stuff. Sometimes you find nothing and sometimes you're just like 'oh yeah!'"
The exhibition is open now. Hours during gallery night are 5-7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday. Voting ends Thursday, April 19 at 6 p.m. and the winners will be announced in the store and live on Facebook on Friday at 5 p.m.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.