The value we assign to objects has a lot to do with a curious relationship between location and intention. If an old rocking chair is lying on top of a heap at the dump, it’s often considered junk. If the same chair is in an antique store somewhere in Vermont, it is a treasure. If that same chair is on the curb of a San Francisco city street – well, then, it could really be either.

What: The Artist in Residency Program at Recology
When: Fri 5/14 5-9PM, Sat 5/15 1-5 PM
Where: The dump! 503 Tunnel Ave.
Cost: Free

No matter where we might find an object, its location coupled with how we use it can influence the value placed upon it. Our hypothetical chair could become a family heirloom, or could just as easily be broken down to use the wood and materials in a new way. No matter the use or location of the thing, this connection between an object’s place and its intended use makes for some interesting considerations, which is just one of the reasons for the creation of the Artist in Residence program at the dump Recology San Francisco, (the newly renamed conglomeration of Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal).

The ultimate goal of the program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is to inspire people to pay better attention to the materials in their everyday life. This kind of extra attention might inspire artists to use found materials to create new work, or might also inspire the rest of us to recycle and reuse more of the stuff we already have.

Recology, which boasts an emboldened, employee driven history on it’s website, provides artists in their AIR program not only with a stipend but with unfettered access to the company’s material, (better known as our junk), as well as a 2000-square-foot art studio. In turn, artists make themselves available to class tours and other visiting groups to use whatever projects they are working on to reveal how these materials can be used for good, not just evil.

The AIR program is really a win/win for everyone. Artists get every imaginable type of materials at their fingertips as well as time, space and financial support to make a substantial body of work, all of which can be seen at public receptions held during the closing days of their time at AIR. This is literally a one-of-a-kind program in the country and yet for us, it’s merely another community based program that makes San Francisco the special place that it is.

This weekend might be one of the best times for you to experience this phenomenon. Bay Area artists Josh Short and Ben Burke will be on hand for receptions for the projects they completed during their time at AIR, Break in Case of Emergency by Josh Short and The Uncanny Valley Orphanage by Ben Burke.

Recology might seem as if it is somewhere far, far away but it is only a few blocks from the T Line, just be careful when riding Muni people, in fact be careful when anywhere remotely near Muni. (Geesh!)

No matter how you get to the AIR receptions and events this weekend, it will be a quintessential San Francisco experience to attend a BBQ at the foothills of your culture’s trash while looking out at the permanent sculpture garden, discussing site-specific installations and considering your own personal value.

Photo from Recology’s Sculpture Garden: “Earth Tear,” Marta Thoma 1993

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