Spare Parts Crosses The Pacific

Kara Michele Salinas

Aloha y’all!

by Kara Michele Salinas, Artist & Spare Parts Educator

Spare Parts travelled to Hawaii October 31-November 6, 2017 to learn first-hand about the poisoning our planet’s oceans due to plastic pollution, and meet organizations on Oahu devoted to tackling this crisis. This is an issue important to me, my family and my art and design practice. I knew that what we experienced would directly benefit Spare Parts’ body of knowledge and in turn increase environmental educational awareness in San Antonio.

Our vision: through programing, education and physical development, Spare Parts empowers citizens to reduce landfill tonnage through reuse and environmental accountability.

Our Spare Parts autumn adventure began with a flight from Austin, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii. Mary Cantu, founder of Spare Parts, and I brought the Latin American-rooted celebration of Dia de Los Muertos to the eco-friendly organization Art Explorium. The relationship between Spare Parts and Art Explorium began four years ago when we were contacted for programming guidance. Read this blog posting by Laura Carter. Carter followed up with Art Explorium two years later in 2015.

The first full day in Hawaii Mary and I installed a Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium using preloved materials, of which some were sourced locally in Texas with the remaining found in thrift stores in Hawaii.

We connected with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. At our meeting we learned that Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii does not consist of a building footprint, but rather it is a compost area, storage bins and a storage container for the trash that is collected from Hawaii’s shores. Several of the collected plastics have labels depicting language from other countries, and this served as a reminder that trash does not need a passport to travel. I left the meeting reminded of the urgency to continue educating and practicing the four R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

I then led a creative reuse workshop at Art Explorium focused on teaching a soft sculpture activity for Dia de Los Muertos; a three-dimensional skull. The children also learned how to create paper marigolds and papel picado streamers plus they enjoyed some Mexican hot chocolate. Our trip to Hawaii closed with sightseeing, hiking and a drive along the Hawaiian scenic route to visit beautiful spots such as Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. Mahalo!

 

The best aloha is a beautiful rainbow over Waikiki Beach, HI. View from a lanai at the Hale Koa Hotel.
Betty Boop hula art found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, 517 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Oahu, HI. This is the best place to find a ton of pop culture collectibles from all over the world. From the right: Cantu and me.
Collectables like vintage matchbooks diverted from the trash found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, Honolulu.

 

Here I’m installing the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium located in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu.
I led the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos skull workshop at Art Explorium. The children in this picture are learning how to repurpose fabric and sewing scraps into a soft skull sculpture.
Here’s our community Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium.
There are farm fresh produce stands found along the way to Turtle Bay Beach in the North Shore.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii located at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. From left: Luis Linares, Sustainable Coastlines volunteer & advocate, Cantu and me.
This photograph shows a close-up from the inside of the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii recycling bins. Beach cleaning volunteers find numerous forms of trash discarded into the ocean including ropes, fishing nets, plastic and micro plastics.
The last portion of the trip allowed for sight seeing along Hawaii’s scenic route. Here’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This image illustrates the beauty found in Hawaii and the urgency to keep our coastlines free from pollution.

Spare Parts Summer of ’17 brought to you by Friends of Spare Parts Board President Laura Carter

Laura Carter, President, Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

If you live in Texas, it might be hard to tell the summer season is almost over. Those of you who are teachers, students or parents of school-aged kids know ‘back to school’ is upon you. The Spare Parts team hopes you all had a good summer. For Spare Parts’ Board of Directors and staff it’s been gloriously busy.

 

In June of 2016, we initiated a fundraising campaign for a permanent location to house our offices, to create a Spare Parts store where San Antonians can donate or purchase preloved art materials, and to host creative reuse programs year-round. To reach this goal we realized Spare Parts needed to establish itself as a 501c3 nonprofit. Currently Spare Parts, a sole proprietorship, is a member of Fractured Atlas, a national nonprofit arts organization that allows us to accept your charitable donation for tax-deductible purposes.

 

Friends of Spare Parts founding Board of Directors (left to right, back row): Jeanne Cantu, Regina Villalobos-Perez, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Laura Carter, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Heather Eichling. Front row, left to right: Carla Berryman, Brenda L Burmeister and Chris Castillo.

On June 9, 2017, we held our first Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors meeting—a formal Board being one of the criteria for establishing an 501c3 nonprofit. We adopted Bylaws and began the process of creating committees and discussing goals. As the elected President of the Board, I am excited to be working with capable and enthusiastic Board members Carla Berryman (Treasurer), Brenda L Burmeister, Jeanne Cantu (Vice President, Friends of Spare Parts), Chris Castillo (Vice President, Mini Art Museum), Heather Eichling, Jessica Jones Gonzales, Rikkianne Van Kirk and Regina Villalobos-Perez (Secretary). Mary Elizabeth Cantú was hired to hold the Spare Parts Executive Director position.

 

Friends of Spare Parts Board Members (Laura Carter, Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk), Mia, Laura, Anna and Dezarre Boone and Spare Parts Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú at August’s Spare Parts Shop. All Spare Parts Shop proceeds goes to securing a building of our own for a year-round Spare Parts store & community center.


Our annual summer Fine Arts Fair/Materials Giveaway, historically held at Wonderland of the Americas, was postponed until Spare Parts secures a space. In its stead, our Spare Parts Shop committee lead by Jessica Jones Gonzales and Rikkianne Van Kirk held two pop ups, stocked with preloved creative materials and various artsy things for sale-cheap. The Spare Parts Shop has plans to pop up at various locations monthly going forward.

 

Cantú, co-founder of the Mini Art Museum took a new exhibit all the way to Columbia, South America in July. “Controlled Burn” was curated by San Antonio artist/Mini Art Museum committee member Daniel Rios Rodriguez. Visit www.miniartmuseum.org to learn more about this wee adventure!

 

Left to right: Lucero Munoz, Mary Elizabeth Cantú and Cecilia Cedillo in Villa de Leyva, Colombia (July 2017). Munoz and Cedillo were Cantu’s traveling companions. Munoz is originally from Armenia, Quindio, Colombia.

Our programming continues to thrive under Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantú. As Board committees evolve, we will announce ways you can help take Spare Parts to the next level. At any time you can make a tax-deductible donation to our permanent space campaign. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too.

 

If there are any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email: laurac@sparepartssa.org. 

-Laura Carter
President, Board of Directors
Friends of Spare Parts

During her 14-day stay, Cantu installed “Controlled Burn in 12 locations across Colombia. Here is a group of students at their rural school in Rio Verde visiting the Museum (July 2017).
MINI ART MUSEUM presents “Controlled Burn” curated by Daniel Rios Rodriguez. This picture was taken at a coffee farm in front of the Andes Mountains of Colombia (July 2017).

#Take5forSA virtual artist-in-residence Laurel Gibson

Laurel Gibson

San Antonio artist/educator Laurel Gibson was Spare Parts’ second virtual artist-in-residence for a #Take5forSA project. The challenge: for the entire month of February, post daily on the Spare Parts Instagram page five discarded items that would, at the end of the month, be creatively reused.

Interviewer Laura Carter delved into Gibson’s creative mind with a discussion regarding the nature of her art & the collaboration with Spare Parts.

When we first met at the Spare Parts Pop Up Shop at SoFlo Market, I asked you what you did for a living. And, you said enthusiastically, “I’m an artist!” Who or what has inspired or influenced you, creatively speaking?

Laurel: I have been making art as long as I can remember. My grandmother was a fashion illustrator for a newspaper in Illinois. My parents did not discourage me expressing myself through, sometimes very different, ways. As a young girl growing up in Arizona, I was fascinated with what I saw around me. I found I could express myself in art, in the act of being creative. I used to make designs from cactus needles, flower petals, things I found lying around. I found a broken watch & used it, with other found objects, to make a figure of a person. (This was the first thing that actually drew praise from my father.)  I liked drawing & making sculptures as well. What really influences my art is life. I enjoy the process of bringing an idea or vision to life—making it a reality.

When did you first realize making art was what you wanted to do as a profession?

Laurel: At the age of about 11 or 12, I told my mother I wanted to make art a career. Her response was that I needed to practice.  So, I did. I was obsessive in a way. Later, I earned an undergraduate degree in art in Arizona & a Master of Art in Ceramics from the University of Texas San Antonio. I like to challenge myself through artistic expression. Though my focus is ceramics, I work in a variety of mediums. I teach art classes at several different places, including Bihl Haus Arts. I take commissions & work on funded projects.

We are thrilled you chose to share your artistic reuse talents with Spare Parts. What was it that drew your attention to this project?

Louis Armstrong on piano roll paper by Laurel Gibson
Used coffee filters with embroidered design by Laurel Gibson

Laurel: About 50% of my art is created from reused materials. Taking found objects, leftover materials, trash even, for use in an artistic expression. For example, used coffee filters (right) or old piano rolls (left). I saw the first artist doing the #Take5forSA project & thought, “Oh, yeah, I can do this. The most challenging aspect was finding those five items for each day in February, was working it into my teaching schedule etc.”  When I took a vacation to Padre Island, I picked up some interesting materials on the beach. 

To someone who asks, “Just what are these #Take5forSA pieces used for?” Well, Gibson made unique refrigerator magnets. Great idea! We say it’s a plus the materials are no longer litter or in the landfill. 

What might be some of your next artistic challenges?

Laurel:  What really drives me is making something impossible happen. I have a commissioned project rolling around in my mind.  When I work on a project, I like to remain “ignorant” of what other artists have done with similar challenges so I can get my own inspiration.  I think I’d like to get back to ceramics for a bit. I’d like to do more collaboration with Spare Parts as well.