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Art Renewed: CCA exhibit celebrates reuse, recycle, recreate

GALLERY manager Carolyn Smith stands with Carlos Cobos’ salmon sculpture, Mabel 16 (detail of the fish’s mouth).

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
GALLERY manager Carolyn Smith stands with Carlos Cobos’ salmon sculpture, Mabel 16 (detail of the fish’s mouth).

From gossamer dryer sheets to metal refuse rescued from local rivers, cast-off objects that imbue the spirit of reuse and recreate give shape to a dynamic exhibit that runs through Feb. 25 at Columbia Center for the Arts.

“Back Talk: Recycled Art” features jewelry, photography, small and large metal sculpture, mosaics, and drawings, all made using materials that had once been something else: cast-off pencils, old shovels, glass shards, building materials, bottle caps, paint sticks, plywood, and more.


‘WARRIOR Woman,’ mixed media by Rene Westbrook, breastplate of found objects.

Recycled art challenges the artist to use materials at hand to express their vision, in both two- and three-dimensional work.

In the lobby gallery are lamps made of reused materials, by students of Matthew Gerlick at Hood River Valley High School. They form a creative bridge to the exhibition of Scholastic Art Award nominees’ work by young artists taught by Amirra Malak, Gabe Iverson, Carol Birdsell and Gerlick.

As a result, the center has seen numerous families come through the gallery this month, noted gallery manager Carolyn Smith.

She purchased a table, made by Gerlick, and donated it back to the center. Recycled textbooks and other childrens’ books form the surface of the spinning table, mounted on the leg apparatus of a discard wheeled chair from the school. (With four legs, the chair is one short of the five required by federal safety code.)

Look in the lobby for Mabel 16 (it’s hard to miss), one of the largest art pieces ever seen in the CCA gallery. The 12-foot salmon, created from found objects and trash, is by artist Carlos Cobos, of Scottsdale, Ariz., an annual summer resident of the Gorge.

The name is taken from a rusted pot belly stove Cobos pulled from the Hood River. The pieces form the belly of the salmon, and the jaw and other body parts. Mabel 16’s body and skeleton are made from metal scrap found in the rivers or purchased at Red’s Trading Post in The Dalles and Gorge Re-Build It Center in Hood River. The footing is made of a wheeled cart Cobos pulled from the river and wrapped by a volleyball net (from Re-Build It) Cobos added to invoke river fishing nets.

Other pieces include glass transformers for eyes, an anchor serving as a hook in the fish’s mouth, and metal straps from the old water flume along the Hood River, which had become submerged and were hazards to fish as well as to swimmers. Cobos said he gained permission from the Port of Hood River to salvage many of the straps.

Inside the fish belly are a numerous discarded objects including glass and metal bottles and cans, a Capri sun package, a flip-flop (“you wouldn’t believe how many of those you can find”), fishing lures and line, a piece of an old boat, lumber, and — mostly rusted — tools.

Cobos said his goal is to find a permanent Gorge home for Mabel 16 (listed at $4,500).

Using materials including more of the flume straps, Cobos said, “I’m going to do more awareness type pieces” starting this summer.


The Columbia Art Gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participating artists are Debora Lorang, Joann Lundberg, Scott MacDonald, Tracy Klass, Joyce Kelly, Sandra Choate, Jinx Griswold, Rodney Stuart, Kathleen

O'Hern, Matthew Gerlick, HRVHS students, Peggy Dills Kelter, Doug Burke, Nancy Houfek Brown, Les Lively, Brad

Lorang, Maureen Lauran, Michelle Thompson and Alan Root. Meanwhile, in the Oak Street lobby of two exhibitco-sponsors host art exhibits through early March:

• Windermere Real Estate Gallery: the quilts of fiber artist Rhonda Harris are display.

• Cathedral Ridge Winery Gallery: works by local quilt artist Linda Reichenbach.

‘Activism’ exhibition comes to CCA in March

March’s exhibition in the Columbia Center for the Arts Gallery, March 1 to April 1, explores art activism and its effect on social change, in “Raising Our Voices: Art as Activism.”

The exhibition looks at how artists bring about social awareness, lead others to a broader understanding of issues and perspectives, and motivate people to act for change and move the dial of cultural transformation.

March 2 — Artists’ reception: 6 to 8 p.m., CCA, 213 Cascade Ave.

Through visuals arts this show looks at how we can better talk with each other about issues that sometimes divide us, but are important to us all. Art as Activism also looks look at ways of using the effect of activism and the affect of art to create emotionally resonant experiences that can lead to measurable shifts in power and thought.

Art installations by eight key artists, and individual artworks by others, share the impact of art on political, personal, and environmental aspects of our lives.

March 13 — In keeping with the Art as Activism theme, CCA will also present Oregon Humanities Conversation Project event “Beyond Fake News: How We Find Accurate Information about the World,“ a free conversation with Kelly McElroy, at 6 p.m.


LAMPS made from reused and repurposed items — crates, plastic bottle caps, paper, aluminum cans, paper clips, yarn, and more — made by HRVHS students, in the Lobby gallery.


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