2018 Art Hop Profiles

2018 South End Art Hop Profiles:

Art as Eco-Warriors 

Each year, SEABA likes to profile a few of our amazing businesses, artists, or contributors to our pretty funky community here in the South End Arts District.  This year, we thought to focus on artists and South End collaborators who keep our beautiful environment in mind with their work.

Recycle Moe- Thirty-Odd

Moe O’Hara at her store, Thirty-Odd

“I’m a hoarder—we’ll get back to that.”

Meet Moe O’Hara, better known as Recycle Moe, an upcycled artist and founder of 30 Odd, one of the South End’s newest indoor artist markets.

O’Hara is originally from Syracuse, New York but did her fair share of traveling after college when she joined Americorps in Colorado, volunteered in Ireland and hiked the Appalachian Trail.

“Then I came to Vermont because someone told me this is where I should live,” she said. “And they were right.”

But more interesting than her move to Burlington was how she started making art from recycled materials.

As a kid, O’Hara took frequent trips to thrift stores with her big family and grew to appreciate her second hand finds.

In 2007 when she was living in the Old North End, O’Hara began selling recycled art out of her home.

“Then I wanted to get out of my house and so the place to have a studio is the South End,” she said.

First came her studio space in the Soda Plant, and then in May of 2018 30 Odd opened as way for artists like O’Hara to make a hundred percent of sales on their work.

“The only downside to having a store is that I have to shower every day.”

O’Hara’s “borderline hoarding” led her to break down and then reconstruct things like old children’s books into switch plates, magnets, pins and notebooks.

“Recycled art gets a bad rep because some people just throw a candy wrapper on something and call it art,” she said. “It’s about repurposing something, making it functional and new.”

And she’s not the only one in 30 Odd who makes recycled art. Vermont Tribe, Revival Studio, Vermont Singing Drum and Matt O’Hara all make their art from used items.

“I worry about consumerism, everyone is buying new because it’s easy”

“I worry about consumerism, everyone is buying new because it’s easy,” O’Hara said. “But if you take a few extra minutes to do it more sustainably by buying used or vintage, it’s going to be a cooler thing anyways.”

O’Hara sees recycled art as a way to address that problem. She eliminates the extra time and work of finding cool used items for the consumer.

“Buying handmade is always better, buying from a local artist is even better than that. And then if you’re buying from a recycled artist, your carbon footprint is way down,” O’Hara said.

For her, recycling is not just about the environment, it’s a cheaper way to get her creativity out there.

That’s what all artists in the south end are doing, really, she said. They’re trying to get their art into the world.

“I love the Art Hop because you see a closed door in the South End and you don’t really know what goes on in there until the Art Hop. All of these hidey holes of awesome art going on and the Art Hop reveals them,” O’Hara said.

30 Odd is open as an artist site for the 26th annual South End Art Hop so go in and check out all the cool recycled art by Moe and many others.

 

Terry Zigmund

Terry Zigmund & Amy Houghton- Rain Chain artists 

Burlington’s South End is ever growing, but buildings, businesses and artists aren’t the only additions to the city’s art district this summer.

In August, stained glass Artisan Terry Zigmund and landscape architect Amy Houghton completed a rain chain project commissioned by SEABA to promote community awareness and direct storm run off to grassy areas for infiltration.

“Storm water is an issue that affects our rivers, our lakes, our community,” SEABA Director Adam Brooks said. “The residents of the South End have to do their part in mitigating the negative effects of Burlington’s combined sewer system.”

Rain chains were first used in Japan, often on temples, and act as transportation of storm water from gutters to a drain, storage container or permeable ground.

With so much of the South End being asphalt or packed dirt, this kind of water redirection could change a lot.

The project was funded by a grant from the Windham Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the social, economic and cultural vitality of Vermont’s communities.

The two artists, who met while walking their dogs, were the perfect pair to take on the rain chains.

“When Terry heard about the project, she immediately thought we could work together,” Houghton said.

Zigmund was born in Catskill, New York and from her 27 years of teaching and making glass, she already had a few environmentally friendly tricks up her sleeve.

As part of her more than 500 glass products a year, Zigmund creates stained glass and wire mosaics of trees in which she recycles electrical wiring by stripping the plastic coating and repurposing it.

But she isn’t the only one who keeps the environment in mind in her work.

Houghton, who grew up in Sparta, New Jersey, chose a career in landscape architecture where she has now done a number of projects that combine aesthetics and environmental concerns like the terrace rain garden at ECHO Lake Aquarium.

Together they designed three rain chains that are installed along Pine Street.

Rain chain outside of Seaba

“Of course, our project is made from recycled storm window glass,” Zigmund said.

“The glass cups are not only fitting to the issue of storm water, but they also represent the artisans of the South End and the clarity that art can bring to people,” Houghton said.

Though the glass cups are perhaps the most visually striking part of the rain chains, their thoughtfulness around the materials used didn’t end there.

“Pretty much every material has a symbolic meaning to it and an emotional value,” Houghton said.

The chains themselves are old bike chains, symbolic of the industrial history of the South End. The splash pads that anchor each chain are made from driftwood and stones from Lake Champlain, a central part of Burlington.

“They’re ready for rain,” Houghton said. “But more importantly they are ready to inspire residents to try something similar.”

Zigmund and Houghton agreed that Burlington is beginning to turn its focus on how the city can better deal with storm water at individual sites.

But the city cannot be the only one to take action in helping preserve our environment.

As you walk through the South End during Art Hop, enjoy the amazing products of local artists and businesses and consider how Burlington’s art and creativity can call attention to the issues that face our environment.

Consider how art can change them.

And consider what you can do.

You can build or buy rain chains like Zigmund and Houghton’s. You can make rain gardens by growing plants that naturally absorb harsh chemicals and help to purify water. Or you can research your own way to play a part in helping our community and its environment.

The South End rain chains are on display in front of The Lamp Shop, the SEABA Gallery and Great Harvest Bread Company.

Karen Bates- Watershed Management

Karen Bates

Good food, better music and the best art makes it easy to let go of worries and have fun at Art Hop.

But Vermont’s Watershed Coordinator, Karen Bates reminds us that art can be part of a larger picture, and can bring to our attention issues, perspectives and even solutions.

Bates grew up in Vermont, watching the land and the people around her change.

She joined the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources first as a Wetlands Scientist before then becoming the Watershed Coordinator in 2000.

But wait a second. Why do you, a carefree Art Hop attendee care about watershed management?

“For the environment to continue to support our goals for providing recreational opportunities, habitat and safe drinking water, landscape activities must work towards absorbing storm water runoff,” Bates said.

Just because Bates has the title of Watershed Coordinator doesn’t mean it is her job alone to solve these issues.

”Our community needs to see the management of their own property, no matter how small, as vital to protecting our lake, streams and wetlands,” she said. “And to be informed about the best management activities to adopt.”

Bates got involved with SEABA and the South End Art Hop not just by attending it each year, but by advising the rain chain project to reduce storm water overflow and the dumping of minimally treated water into Lake Champlain.

“I’m so excited about the rain chain project because I feel like it represents the potential for collaboration between art and science,” Bates said.

She sees art not just a method of presentation but as a way to make these issues digestible to a larger audience, to induce emotion and concern for them.

“To have people truly understand why caring for the environment is necessary, we need to create ways for them to visualize the problem,” she said. “The rain chains do just this.”

Though it is her specialty, storm water mitigation is not the only thing that art and the art community brings our attention to.

“I like that Art Hop engages a diverse audience and introduces them to different forms of art and the messages they may convey,” Bates said.

It’s true; the food trucks are full of awesome and creative grub. Nowhere else can you see so many great local bands playing for free in antique furniture stores or South End parking lots. And the chance to see so many incredible Burlington artists displaying, selling and creating art is without compare.

But the Art Hop is so much more.

“For me, attending an Art Hop is to be surrounded by people who are all experiencing and reacting to art that asks them to look or think about something with the goal of learning about oneself and the world around them,” Bates said.

 

“It provides me with a sense of optimism as this greater awareness is what we need to improve our world.”

 

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