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The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What are the bins?...and Tuesday is the drawing.

Just a reminder that Tuesday is the 1st, so that is the day for the drawing for the FREE ART!  If you have posted a comment since I announced the giveaway, your name is automatically entered each time you have posted.  Good luck everyone!  Here again is the piece you will receive if your name is drawn.

In one of the many comments posted recently, the question was asked, "What are the bins?"

Goodwill has certain stores called Goodwill Outlets (if you are looking in the phone book or online), but which are called "the bins" by those who frequent the places.  They are few and far between, often only in the bigger cities.  They are the end of the line, so to speak....the place for donations that are not good enough to go to a Goodwill store, the place for things that spent their time in a store but did not sell, and sometimes the place for excess donations that they do not have time to process, or small items that would not be practical to sell in a regular Goodwill (like Lego pieces, wooden blocks, etc).

They are called "the bins" because everything is rolled onto the floor of the big warehouse-type building in bins about 4' wide and 8 or 10' long and about a foot deep.  They are about waist high to make digging convenient.  Shoes, books, electronics and clothing are mostly kept in separate bins, but everything else is thrown in together and you must dig to see what is there.  I am often what would be called a "bottom feeder" because I love to find the little treasures left after the mad scramble by others to get the bigger things off the top.

The bins in Hillsboro (Portland metro area), where I go, probably has around 80-100 bins on the floor at any one time, and during the day, the employees periodically wheel them away and bring back new ones, which brings a new rush of enthusiasm for the many buyers.  Owners of second-hand stores, and those who frequently sell on the internet, are avid and almost daily shoppers.

The best part is the pricing the pound.  Except for a few items which are separately priced, like large rugs,  books ($1 for paperback and $2 for hardback), furniture, exercise equipment, and bicycles, most items are sold by the pound.  If you buy over 25 pounds, the price is 89 cents a pound.  Under 25, I think it is $1.29 (I don't really remember because I almost never buy that little). Glass items are 29 cents a pound.  So a whole shopping cart full will often cost about $25-30.

When Nils and I go, I remind him what a cheap date I am.  One of my favorite ways to spend 2 or 3 hours is to go the bins foraging because I never, never know what might be there!  It is like a whole new treasure hunt each time (and each time new bins are rolled out).  Cheap fun indeed!  Of course, if you don't make art (or do something with everything you find), this fun habit may win you a spot on the TV show "Hoarders"!

Besides the hunting, I love the creative exercise of this.  When I look at each item, I have to look at it not from the standpoint of what it was for, but ask myself, does it have an interesting shape, texture or patina?  Can it be disassembled into interesting parts?  If it was painted or rusted, would it look entirely different?  I don't think about how I will be able to use anything, but just if it appeals to me on a gut level.  And it all costs so little, what if I made a wrong judgement from time to time.  Besides, often things I don't end up using will be just the thing a student at one of my workshops will love.

And that is the story of the bins.....


Heartwings said...

Wonderful description of "the bins"! Your assemblage pieces are so inspiring to me!

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Jennifer! We've spent our share of days rummaging together, which is even more fun than doing it alone! In the drawing you go....

Paula Guhin said...

Love your treasures and your site, and wish to God there was an outlet with bins near me! Ha!
Paula at Mixed Media Manic.blogspot

Diane Lou said...

Thanks, Paula. I'd be in big trouble if I lived near the bins. I'd need a warehouse, and I'm afraid I'd be there every day to see what new treasures would surface!
I've put you in the drawing! Good luck!

Jacqueline said...

Oh how fun! I will have to check this out next time I am in Portland!

Diane Lou said...

Hi Jacqueline, I suppose I should warn everyone that some people like to wear rubber gloves when digging! And if you are a germ-o-phobe, it's probably not the place for you. But if you love "stuff", and don't mind giving your hands a good scrub (and the "stuff" a good scrub), well, what fun!

Pam McKnight said...

When I was at Art & Soul a couple years ago I heard mention of "The Bins" but didn't know where they were and didn't have a car to get there...but then I discovered that my town has Bins too! It is the exact same concept but instead of for Goodwill it is "Idaho Youth Ranch" thrift store excess, and I am addicted too.

Diane Lou said...

How great, Pam! I just love the idea of keeping as much as possible out of the landfills...and besides providing us with art materials, it provides low cost things for people who are in need of them. And yes, it is addictive!