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Art Show Highlights Trash From Escambia County Waterways

Keep Pensacola Beautiful has teamed up with First City Art Center to present Pieces Adrift: an art show and silent auction this Saturday, Sept. 7.

The featured art pieces have been created using litter from in and around the waters of Escambia County.

“We do find a lot of trash on Pensacola Beach,” said Shea Kelly, Environmental Programs Coordinator at Keep Pensacola Beautiful. “That’s where we do most of our cleanups, because that’s where people call us and they want to do cleanups at the beach.”

When it comes to litter in our local waters, Kelly concedes the beach is just for starters.

“We also find a lot at Bay Bluffs; there’s a big issue there,” Kelly added. “We have people go out all the time and pick up stuff. I was there this past weekend actually. There’s always stuff to pick up; any of the waterways really, there’s always something to pick up.”

The trash collected includes the typical items, such as Styrofoam cups, paper soda-and-coffee cups, plastic-and-glass bottles, plastic-and-paper straws, chip bags and wrappers. The number one item, which accounts for more than half of what’s picked up locally, continues to be cigarette butts.

The only requirement for the artists is that 50 percent of their pieces are made from trash, whether from our waterways or elsewhere. According to Kelly, the artists – ranging from school age to professional - have been very creative in meeting the challenge.

Credit Photo Courtesy of the artist
This submission is from artist Todd Bowman, whose normal medium is trash.

“There is one artist that we really love, and he does this is the kind of art normally; this is his medium,” said Kelly of pieces created by professional artist Todd Bowman. “He has taken tin cans and he’s got a 3-D piece of a dancer and two 2-D pieces that are just really, really beautiful. He just cuts up the tin cans and uses the colors as his paint, basically.”

One of the youngest entrants is 11-year-old Lyden Burns.

“He made (an) alligator out of to-go cartons and plastic cups and it’s just, it’s beautiful; I love it,” declared Kelly. “As he says, alligators are his favorite animal and green is his favorite color.”

Among the other entries is a piece by Rema Eqab that features crocheted plastic bags of various colors. Lisa Burridge and her fifth-grade class at Dixon School of the Arts and Sciences have submitted a jellyfish created with recycled paper. 

Local photographer Kristen Regan submitted photos of transformed trash items, while Arrow Salon submitted a few entries reflecting different hairstyles.

According to Kelly, some of the art even incorporates cigarette butts.

“We had someone make a sunflower with the cigarettes being the middle of the sunflower, the seeds.”

The Pieces Adrift art show and auction will be Saturday from 5 - 8 p.m. at First City Art Center. The event will feature by live musical entertainment by Honey Daze and Tanya Gallagher, a raffle, and food and drinks. Tickets can be purchased online at www.keeppensacolabeautiful.org, on the KPB Facebook page, and on Eventbrite, and they’ll be available at the door.

An equal share of all monies raised will go to the sponsoring organizations.

“For us, the proceeds will go to our Harmony Parks Initiative, which will be installing three large-scale musical instruments into the Englewood Park by Boys’ & Girls’ Club,” Kelly said. “For First City Art Center, their proceeds will be going toward their scholarship program for art classes for low-income families.”

To support these initiatives, both organizations hope to raise a good amount of money, but are uncertain about how much the auction will generate.  

Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media
WUWF Public Media
A view of Pensacola Bay from Downtown Pensacola.

Kelly, who coordinates environmental programs for Keep Pensacola Beautiful, says, for them, Pieces Adrift is more than a fundraiser; it’s also a valuable educational opportunity.

“We really want to show the community how much trash is really out there, how much litter we’re dealing with in our waterways, and other ways to think about it,” Kelly proclaimed. “We really want to challenge the community to rethink our waste and kind of repurpose and reuse, instead of just throwing things out as litter.”

Emphasizing the growing problem of plastics pollution, including plastic straws, the first 200 people in the door for Pieces Adrift on Saturday will receive a metal straw in small pouch with the Keep Pensacola Beautiful logo on it.