Cans to creations, ash trays to art

Kenai River Fest to sport recycle art exhibit

He is 4 feet tall, and his body is covered in small, circular mirrors. His eyes are rusted metal balls, his legs CD trays, his wings carpet scraps. His beak looks like it’s made of recycled rubber.


“He’s very strange,” said Jan Wallace, a volunteer for ReGroup, a Kenai Peninsula-based recycling advocacy group.

Wallace “acquired” the bird — made entirely of scrap materials — in Anchorage. It is now hanging from the ceiling in Central Peninsula Hospital’s day surgery room. She hopes the winged creation will be an example of what shows up at the Kenai River Festival’s Salvage Art Exhibit.

“That would be lovely, wouldn’t it?” she said.

The exhibit, co-hosted by ReGroup and the Kenai Fine Arts Center, encourages those attending the festival create sculptures made of recycled materials — plastic bags, rusty screwdrivers, bailing wire, glass totems — and bring them to Soldotna Creek Park between 3-6 p.m. June 7, for display during the Kenai River Festival. 

Onlookers can cast ballots for the viewer’s choice awards 3 p.m., June 9.

There are three categories. The large sculpture category encompasses creations 2 feet or taller. The small sculpture category includes creations 2 feet or smaller. The third category is for containers — bags, purses, vessels, jars.

Those 12 to 18 years old are in one age group. Those older than 18 year old are another.

Artists can also supplement materials with the aluminum cans and plastic bottles accumulating at the festival.

All creations must be composed of at least 90 percent recycled materials. Adhesives, such as duct tape or super glue, are allowed also.

But everything else, Wallace said, is undefined. One man asked Wallace if the bicycle-chain belts he makes would qualify for the containers category, she said. “Well, it contains your pants,” she said she told him, so likely, yes.

“We sort of set a parameter out there and we’ll see how that parameter gets implemented,” she said.

Wallace said the turnout for the exhibit is uncertain. She pitched the idea for the exhibit to Lisa Beranek, festival coordinator, because she wanted people to think about recycling in another way. Now that the idea has caught on, and it’s headed for its inaugural performance, she said anyone could show up.

“I know there are some people making interesting things, and I hope we can get the word out so they will bring them in,” she said. “We’re putting our faith in the (creativity) of the community.”

She said she hopes to see artists who manipulate iron or steel.

The Kenai River Festival will begin June 7 from 5-10 p.m. It ends at 6 p.m., June 9.

Editor's Note: A paragraph in this article was clarified to reflect where and when community members should bring their recycled art sculptures to Soldotna. 

Dan Schwartz can be reached at



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