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Visual Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May 17, 2017 3 years ago

Collaborative art exhibition MASHterpieces returns to Sarasota

New format, same mission. MASHterpieces returns, blending art, creativity and recycling.
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

Missed deadlines. Bombed presentations. The dreaded realization you’ve forgotten your pants. For most people, work-related dreams aren’t exactly a positive experience. But for Christina Fraser, events manager at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, they’re one of her biggest sources of creative inspiration.

She keeps a notepad near her bed to ensure her next big idea doesn’t slip away.

Christina Fraser

Most recently, she dreamed that the statue of David, in The Ringling courtyard, was beaming with colorful light. As the light emanated from the statue, a cornucopia of objects that represent the museum poured from its chest.

Aside from making for interesting water-cooler banter, the dream served another purpose. Fraser had found her concept for this year’s MASHterpieces exhibition.

The dream was even kind enough to provide her with a title: “More Than David.”

“We’re so much more than the statue of David,” she says. “People have these preconceived ideas of what the museum is, or they only associate it with one thing. I’m always shocked at how many people have lived here for years and have never come. So when we were putting together our concept for MASHterpieces, I wanted to use objects that represent the museum and show that there’s something for everyone.”

Veronica Brandon Miller, of Goodwill Manasota and Lisa Berger, of Art Center Sarasota

MASHterpieces, an annual art exhibit designed to promote reuse and recycling, is entering its fourth year. This year, however, the collaboration between Goodwill Manasota and Art Center Sarasota is taking a new approach. For the past three years, the exhibition has tasked local artists with repurposing a Goodwill-donated work of art to demonstrate the nonprofit’s mission to reduce, reuse and recycle.

This year, however, instead of artists, 10 local businesses will participate. For an entry fee of $500, which is split between the two host organizations, each business is given a voucher for five items at a Goodwill Bargain Barn, where employees pick out their materials they must use to create an original work of art.

“As the event was approaching this year, the idea came to me,” says Veronica Brandon Miller, Goodwill Manasota vice president. “We try to keep everything out of the landfill, but there are certain things that just can’t go to our salvage unit. I thought, ‘What if we could create sculptures from these items? What if we got companies to start thinking more about reuse before throw something out?’”

Participants will use salvaged materials, such as this film case The Ringling discovered at Goodwill, to create art.

This year’s participating businesses include The Ringling, iHeart Media, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Rapid Security Solutions, Canada Med Services, Manatee Surgical Center, Universal North America, Children’s World, Goodwill Manasota and Adams and Reese LLP.

Among the submissions are a baby mobile, three sculptures and six pieces of wall art. The exhibition will run May 25 through June 30 at Art Center Sarasota, and visitors can bid on the works at the auction reception June 8.

Participating businesses are encouraged to supplement their art with materials from their workplace that might otherwise be thrown away. Recycled newspapers, out-of-date law books and other office supplies will make the transition from clutter to creativity.

Samantha Hobbs, of Canada Med Services, has been a supporter of Goodwill Manasota for years. She says the decision to participate was an easy one.

“Goodwill is near and dear to me,” she says. “Art Center Sarasota is incredible, too. They’re a huge creative force to have in our community, letting not only fine artists but also people in the community come in and explore their talents. So for us, there was no question.”

To start the creative process, Hobbs and her coworkers went to a Goodwill Bargain Barn, an outlet where customers can purchase donated items in bulk, by weight. Amidst the donated items, she says a Schwinn tricycle caught her eye. It was old and beat up, but she saw a creative challenge in restoring it for the exhibition.

In preparing for MASHterpieces, Fraser and The Ringling employees discovered historic items in storage, including pieces of broken ceramic tile.

“The whole mission of Goodwill and of MASHterpieces is something that’s important to me,” says Hobbs. “You’re giving something a life beyond where it might have been thrown out; it gets to continue on. It makes you feel good. There’s a thrill in finding something and bringing it back to life.”

Fraser and her team of fellow Ringling Museum employees will work to make her dream a reality. They plan to secure a miniature concrete statue of David and decorate it with a selection of items that represent the variety of attractions available at the museum — old show fliers, circus museum memorabilia, even extra ribbon from Anne Patterson’s “Pathless Woods” installation.

“I hope it inspires people to make MASHterpieces of their own,” says Fraser. “This shows we’re all part of our arts community. These 10 organizations now have a chance to display their creativity and show what they stand for. We’re not trained artists, but we have something to give.”

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