Thursday, April 7, 2011


What's a reality show, an art competition, and a lesson in green ecology all rolled into one? The answer is "Junk Art Scramble," a new locally-grown, direct-to-web video series in which two teams of local artists are given ten days to create a piece of artwork entirely out of found scrap materials. It's all the brainchild of Ed Martinez, artist, entrepreneur, and environmental activist, who has two self-appointed missions in life: funding art in public schools, and making people aware of just "how much crap this society generates."

The project was launched last Friday evening with the taping of the first half of the initial episode at the vast and amazing Digital Media Factory, upstairs in the old Wrigley Building. This unbelievably enormous, open warehouse space, directly behind the R. Blitzer Gallery, is so huge, sections all around the periphery have been rented out for storage. But in the center of all the Costco-like shelves crammed with boxes, crates, equipment of dubious purpose, and god-knows-what-all else, you'll find the thriving DMF, a highly professional sound, video, film, and recording studio operated by veteran director/cinematographer Marty Collins and musician/ performer/producer Ginny Mitchell.

It was hurry up and wait on Friday as a half dozen technicians scurried on and off the soundstage, adjusting the three-camera set-up, mikes, teleprompters, and props. Then Martinez introduced the show to a small but enthusiastic audience, along with guest co-host, Kathleen Crocetti, multi-media art teacher extraordinaire, seamstress, and public art facilitator, who wore one of her signature gowns festooned with hundreds of shiny, cut-up and recycled CD discs, layered on like fish scales. (Similar to the one opposite; photo by Kyer Whilshire.) They explained the concept of the show, proclaimed their mantra ("Art is core curriculum!"), and put in a good word for the "reuse, recycle, re-purpose" (or "upcycle") movement as a means of saving our throw-away culture from its own junk.

Then it was time to bring out the contestants for this opening show. Team Cabrillo includes art instructors Jamie Abbott, Diane Patracuola, Geoff Caras, Oscar Netsil (aka Ron Baldwin), and student Brandon Burgess. Team Tannery consists of resident artists Kirby Scudder , Stephen Lynch, Art Pitts, Gayle Pitts and the single-named Maha. According to Martinez, their mission is modern-day "alchemy," not turning lead into gold, but turning scrap material into art, "trash into treasure." But, as in most reality TV shows, the competitors aren't allowed to just go do whatever they want. There's a theme challenge involved, and this week it was to visualize in junk art a poem by the late Morton Marcus, selected and read aloud by Mort's wife, Donna. The teams have 10 days to scavenge materials, design and create their art works. Next Sunday, the second half of the show will be taped, when the teams bring in their art pieces to be judged by Wallace Baine, Greg Archer and Chip.

With "Junk Art Scramble," Martinez hopes to put both the DMF and the Santa Cruz arts scene on the virtual map. Stay tuned for info on when the first episode will air online, and how you, too, can be a contestant on a future show.

(Ahead of his time, as usual, Art Boy made this wall piece in the Junk Art spirit a couple of years ago, from a well-used, discarded house-painter's brush we found on one of our walks. He added Sculpey, acrylic paint, five metal cork caps from champagne bottles, one champagne cork, and voila! Behold "Pops." He calls it a self-portrait.)

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