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Earth-Saving Creations

ITINERARY: Ventura County | JAUNTS

Ventura's ArtWalk will display variety of designs that focus on ecology.

April 17, 1997|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You might feel pretty smug about your recycling efforts, but you haven't seen the chess set that artist Len Evans crafted from scrap cardboard.

Michele Chapin scrounges rock from abandoned quarries and gravestone makers for her hefty sculptures. Judy Suzuki created a huge likeness of the Shroud of Turin out of old newspaper, fabric remnants and twigs from a wreath she picked up at a thrift store.

You can see it all Saturday when Ventura hosts another of its ArtWalks. This one, called Eco-ArtWalk, focuses on art created from recycled or environmentally correct materials. It ties in with Earth Day, the annual nod to the environmental movement's birth, April 22, 1970.

Like the other ArtWalks, this one invites you to stroll downtown from 6 to 10 p.m., perusing artwork at some 40 galleries, artists studios, museums and businesses.

If you're not up for walking, buses will run every 15 minutes along two downtown loops. Entertainment--everything from sand art for kids to music from South America--will be ongoing at several spots.

With its ecology focus, the art runs the gamut--recycled thrift store furniture spruced up with bright colors, clouds and stars, to mirrors and picture frames crafted from shells, to oil paintings on wood. Some of it has a nature theme, like floral watercolors, and some is simply traditional art with no environmental message.

You'll find some wild stuff, like the edible tortilla prints by Charles Rush at Smith & Smith, or the Hale-Bopp comet-inspired UFO art at the Daily Grind.

You can stroll through the garden at Chapin's StoneWorks Studio and see "The Kitchen Lady," a life-size sculpture she and artist MB Hanrahan crafted out of discarded kitchenware and appliances they rounded up at a salvage yard.

"We were like sea gulls at the dump," Chapin said. Sticking out of the sculpture's wire-shaped body are such discards as a faucet, iron, ice cream scoop, spatula, cake pan and cheese grater. The head is graced with old hair curlers.

Chapin's studio itself is an environmental work of art. She and artist Tom Porter cleaned out mounds of trash from the lot off Ventura Avenue, planted a garden with plants recycled from other locations, built planters out of scrap wood, and fashioned work tables out of wood salvaged from Ventura's old pier.

During the ArtWalk, you can see the 20,000-pound rock sculpture they are working on: a huge granite ball that eventually will spin on a granite base.

Other artists, like Suzuki, work out of StoneWorks. For the ArtWalk, Laurie Pegg-Scott used the base of a lilac tree in the StoneWorks' garden to delicately intertwine a mass of twigs.

"It depicts the frailty of the environment, the branches resting on one another," she said.

Another stop on the ArtWalk is the Ventura Avenue Adult Center where Evans--the driving force behind the spiffed up Plaza Park nearby--is putting together a collection of recycled art, some of it his, and some from others. Called the "Avenue Un-Trashed," the show includes scrap lumber fashioned into a table, picture frames created from cardboard and animals shaped from scrap metal.

Evans' work embodies the idea that one man's junk is another's art. "I took a look at the prices in art stores and said that's not for me," he said.

The Ventura Avenue Adult Center is one of 11 stops along the art route that feature entertainment. From 3 to 10 p.m., music will be provided by the group Bak II Bazixand classical guitarist Robert Ramirez. During the evening, you can hear the South American music of San Francisco-based Markahuasi at the corner of Santa Clara and California Streets, see a theater dance group at the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, and hear poetry at the Livery.

Children can doodle some sidewalk chalk art at the Daily Grind, or at the park at Santa Clara and California streets they can make environmentally friendly crafts.

BE THERE

Eco-ArtWalk, presented by the city of Ventura, will be held downtown Sat., from 6-10 p.m. Pick up an ArtWalk map at City Hall and in some local newspapers. Free; for information, (805) 658-4726.

Earth Day. The city of Oxnard and Oxnard College will sponsor an Earth Day festival Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Oxnard College, in the 4000 block of South Rose Avenue. In addition to eco-education booths and entertainment, the event will feature hands-on activities for kids such as building a bird house and working on a mural. Free; for information, (805) 385-7928.

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