Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sustainable AlleyArt

Sustainable AlleyArt installations invade Felicia's Atomic Lounge

by Amelia Sauter, Ithaca, NY

Felicia’s Atomic Lounge owners Leah Houghtaling and Amelia Sauter have made it clear during the past five years that they care about the community. Now these two women have taken Felicia’s commitment to do-gooding one step further: They are opening Felicia’s alley for sustainable art shows.

The premise, according to Houghtaling, is to host monthly AlleyArt installations comprised of artwork created with a minimum of 50% recycled or reused materials. Artwork must be designed to withstand - or transform with - the elements, including but not limited to rain, wind, sun, and interaction with people. Preference will be given to those artists whose pieces are created with a higher percentage of recycled materials.

“We have a long, blank blue wall in the alley,” says Houghtaling. “We are committed to being green, and we care about the arts. The AlleyArt show fuses these two passions together.”

July’s featured artist, Charlie Elrod, read Felicia’s request for proposals on the lounge’s blog earlier this month and responded immediately. Elrod started welding in 1980 when he owned a dairy farm in Georgia, and a few years ago he successfully tried his hand at metal sculpting using pieces of old farm equipment. He calls his business Springfield FarmArt.

“I try not to alter the individual parts since they have such cool, sinuous curves and angles,” explains Elrod. “I let their shape determine their placement and interaction with the other pieces. I also don’t use any finishes on the metal, but let the patina that has developed over decades say what it will of its history.”

For Felicia’s AlleyArt show, Elrod will be displaying artistic patio furniture welded from farm machinery.

Elrod adds, “The emphasis on recycled/reclaimed materials is a great opportunity for me to move away from the glass table tops I have been using and into searching for reclaimed materials that bring their own history to the pieces.” Elrod’s tabletops for the Felicia exhibit originally came from the Tompkins County Courthouse. He found them at Finger Lakes ReUse.

Houghtaling and Sauter are thrilled to be partnering with Elrod for the show. “His art work is perfect for our alley,” says Houghtaling. “It’s functional art, which to me is the best kind.”
Elrod’s FarmArt will be on display in Felicia’s alley from July 1-July 31. The opening reception on July 1 will be from 7pm to 9pm, and Felicia’s will take this opportunity to introduce a newly expanded food menu. Samplings of spring rolls, paninis, new flatbread pizzas and other food will be on hand.

Elrod’s FarmArt can be seen online at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge is currently accepting submissions for summer and fall AlleyArt installations. Click here for guidelines.

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