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Garbage can art raises funds for South Park's gazebo
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Garbage can art raises funds for South Park's gazebo

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Surrounded by the mesh screen, wires wrap like vines around a galvanized metal trash can. The wire mesh screen and long-leafed blades of scrap steel create a cage around the can. A cone-shaped top rises above the trash can lid.

Last week, metal sculptor Sherri Cornett wove stiff copper wire and silver-colored wire into a bird’s nest set in a framework of quarter-inch steel rods.

Her piece is one of a dozen ordinary metal trash cans transformed by artists in a Garbage Can Art fundraiser to help support efforts to rebuild the gazebo in South Park.

The artists intend to finish their trash can creations during Magic City Blues at South Park, an all-ages daytime concert in the park Saturday and Sunday.

At South Park, the artists will paint, weave and glue their creations, finishing them in time for a silent auction. Bidding on the silent auction closes at 4:30 p.m. each day during the concert.

The plan calls for six artists each day to complete their creations during the concert. Six trash cans will be auctioned Saturday, and another six on Sunday.

Last week, while Cornett worked on the garbage can in her studio on Minnesota Avenue, she described the piece as having an “Alice in Wonderland” feel.

The can was painted a copper color and the mesh screen woven with strands of copper wire to add sparkle.

“It has more of a green, environmental feeling of recycling,” she said. “When you’re going to throw something away, you might think about recycling if you saw it.”

She started by drawing a rough sketch of a trash can on paper.

“Then I just started drawing vines around it,” she said.

Much of her work revolves around the concept of nesting or the cocoon-like feel of the chrysalis stage of a butterfly’s development.

The nesting idea is linked to creating protected spaces, she said.

She got involved in the garbage can fundraiser because her husband, Dr. Steven Kriner, is a blues fan and plays in a blues band made up of physicians.

Nancy Petersen, a Billings artist and art teacher, took on the project because of the festival’s past support of school music programs. Petersen, who typically works with clay and mosaics, chose to re-purpose her trash can as a bird bath, using the lid as a mold for a mosaic casting.

For the last eight years, she and her husband, Lavern, have joined about a dozen volunteers on the cleanup crew after the Magic City Blues Festival. This year, she’ll work on the Saturday morning cleanup crew, then join the other artists at South Park in the afternoon.

Rachel Larson Long, an elementary school art teacher, helped round up artists for the fundraiser. Her husband, Jeff Long, band director at Billings Senior High School, has usually helped out with the festival.

Long intends to spray paint her garbage can in bright colors using overlapping cutout stencils of musical instruments and blues performers.

“It’s all kinds of media and all kinds of ideas,” Long said.

The inspiration for the Garbage Can Art silent auction came from Tim Goodridge, the festival’s promoter.

“We just liked the idea of taking something that wasn’t such a precious commodity and having it be transformed by art,” Goodridge said. “You always associate garbage with something that’s gross and nasty, but with art you can apply something and make something nice out of it.”

Goodridge hopes the Garbage Can Art auction will raise a couple of thousand dollars for the South Park Task Force toward the task force’s effort to rebuild the gazebo at South Park, a project that was recently approved for major funding by the Billings City Council.

The Ace Hardware store on State Avenue supplied garbage cans for the event.

Contact Donna Healy at or 657-1292.



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