Entries in Salvage Art (4)


Arbor Aid 2011: Salvage Art Goes Uptown

On October 28th, David Calfo will be showing three pieces at the Arbor Aid 2011 fundraiser (benefiting Tree Pittsburgh). Founded in 2006, Tree Pittsburgh is all about enhancing the city's vitality by protecting and restoring its urban forest. The organization aims to do this through community planting, education, advocacy and maintenance.

As a native Pittsburgher and lover of all things outdoors, the Arbor Aid art show is a natural fit for Calfo and his work. A total of three pieces were submitted (and subsequently accepted) into the competition, which features work from more than 40 other artists.

This year's Arbor Aid theme is "The Vessel," and all submissions must be made out of reclaimed wood (the materials must also be sourced sustainably). Here, Calfo had great success - he's the only artist sumitting work salvaged from the historic 158-year-old McBride Log House.

Although this is obviously the type of theme and media Calfo is familiar with, he decided to use the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone a bit by playing with new shapes, shading and vantage points. The result is The Seeker, followed by Soul Searcher (the natural progression of the Lone Walker, a piece that sold at Art All Night earlier this year). These sculptures were created out of wood salvaged from The McBride Log House, one of the oldest log homes in the Pittsburgh area. After weathering more than three centuries, the wood has been reborn into the pieces you see below:

Soul Searcher ($1,400)

Is Soul Searcher kneeling in prayer, defeat or simply deep in thought? We are all created from the elements of the earth, and this piece depicts man coalescing out of the dark, rising from the clay.

Representing the whole of evolution from stardust to human beings of conscious thought we see the transformation of man as he rises out of the elements for the first time. We are all faced with the same thoughts of mortality, self-doubt and the existential question of why we are here, and we can see ourselves in Soul Searcher’s effort to pull free from the darkness in his quest for spiritual enlightenment.

The Seeker ($2,400) 

The Seeker continues a series of figures constructed of wood salvaged from local sources (specifically, the McBride Log House). The simple form distills the human essence to its most basic primal elements. The Seeker walks through life, learning from his environment. The lack of distinct features first makes us question what The Seeker is thinking.

But after examining the Seeker from various points of view, it becomes apparent that the face expresses emotion despite the lack of facial features. The Seeker becomes a reflection of our own inner psyche on life‘s journey, learning from the experience of every step we take on this planet.

The Hunky Rail Gang ($4,000) 

This sculpture is made of wood molds that were originally used in the making of sand casted steel products. The molds and the steel used in this piece date back to 1924 and were salvaged from a mill in Beaver Falls, PA (two days before a wrecking ball got there).

The train tracks inside the mills were all maintained by mill workers, not the railroad companies. They were called the rail gang. As a 4th generation Hungarian steel mill family, Calfo has dedicated this piece to his great grandfather, grandfather, and uncles who all worked together for time at the Homestead Works and were called the hunky rail gang. 

Interested in attending Arbor Aid? You can buy tickets here (prices range from $130-$25). Special thanks to Tree Pittsburgh for hosting an art competition based on sustainability, and for making a beautiful difference in the city we all love so much. Yinz're doin' us prahd! Special shoutout to Caitlin Lenahan, Tree Pittsburgh's Education & Outreach Coordinator, for coordinating the event with a bunch of crazy artists.


David Calfo Brings Salvage Art to the Steel City Big Pour

Lawrenceville salvage artist and master carpenter David Calfo is becoming well known for turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure – and he recently showed his stuff live in front of an audience at the sold-out Steel City Big Pour main event at Construction Junction. Workers at Construction Junction collected pieces of scrap metal for weeks, which Calfo transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces that are still on display on-site.

“I’m pretty much going into the project blind – I don’t really know how much of what kind of materials I’ll have to work with.  To be honest, I’m excited for the challenge,” Calfo said before the event. “Construction Junction is all about conservation and community, and that’s a message that I try to preach through my art. They do great work, and I’m honored they invited me to the Big Pour to show what I can do.”

In the end, David created four pieces out of salvage -- all while an enthusiastic crowd looked on. Even while it was raining, Calfo kept his blow torch going. This is what his efforts translated to:

Interested in buying any of these pieces? Contact us today!

The Big Pour live event comes on the heels of the Crest Hardware Art Show in Brooklyn, which showcased eight pieces of Calfo’s work during the month-long event. As the only Pittsburgh artist invited to the show, Calfo represented the Steel City with art made entirely from locally salvaged materials. Earlier this summer, Calfo created an interactive piece for the Three Rivers ArtsFest that was a big hit with the crowd. He’s been invited back to all three shows next year (the Steel City Big Pour included).

“So much of what people throw away is actually completely usable, it might just be best used to serve a different purpose,” Calfo said. “I’ve turned discarded railroad spikes into gorgeous coffee tables and dancing figurines. It’s amazing what you can come up with when your first thought isn’t to throw the stuff away.”


Steel City Art Meets the Big Apple 

For the last few months, David Calfo has been working on getting his salvage art into more shows and galleries. He hit paydirt earlier in June by scoring an invite to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and he was subsequently invited to take his art on the road to the Crest Hardware Art Show in Brooklyn, which averages around 4,000 visitors a day. Calfo was able to get eight pieces into the show -- including "Every Key," a piece made entirely of discarded metal keys arranged in the shape of a heart on a pedestal.

Calfo is also showing several photographs taken around Pittsburgh, illustrating the fact that he's one of the city's most versatile artists. All of the art at the Crest Hardware Art Show has to be either made out of or inspired by hardware, and it's received a ton of media attention. Here's what people are saying about the show Calfo's featured in:

  • Named one the top "Cool Free Events" in the city by Time Out New York
  • "The Crest Show has gained increasing stature as an important showcase for emerging breakout artists and is now considered a stepping-stone to acclaimed group shows," The Wall Street Journal

After making the drive from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn and setting up his pieces on display, Calfo decided to mingle with the crowd a bit - and there was quite a crowd. The feedback on his work was all positive, and Calfo hopes to leverage the publicity from this show to gain entry into others. The Crest Hardware Art Show runs through July 31st, and proceeds go to The City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization.


Interactive Artwork in 180 Minutes 

On June 4th, David Calfo and Darrell Kinsel were invited to participate in a rotating wall of art at Three Rivers Arts Festival (ArtsFest) in Pittsburgh. Throughout the day, a handful of artists took 180 minute turns with the wall, which they were allowed to do whatever they wanted with. The idea was to crank the work out quickly, so that the remainder of the time could be spent interacting with people interested in the artist's work.

In 45 minutes, Calfo had added old bike rims (courtesy of REI Pittsburgh), colorful fabric and a little bit of his own personality to the wall -- and everyone loved it. Little kids were spinning the wheels alongside people in their 60s, proving that you can be young at heart at any age. What better purpose for art?

Next up, Darrell Kinsel hit the wall (he's also on Twitter, in case you want to stay in touch). His art was up and running in a little over an hour, and he integrated Dave's spinning wheels into his vision. In fact, the rest of the artists woking on the wall that day kept the old bicycle rims up -- and people kept playing with them.

At the end of the day, the event was a huge success. Both David Calfo and Darrell Kinsel were invited back the following year, so keep an eye out for 'em both at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2012. Special thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for helping to keep art alive in the city!