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Recycling Rag, eco-artware's newsletter

Spring 2004

In This Issue:

The Amazing David Wasserman,
Tin Can Artist

We recently came across the works of David Wasserman, Tin Can Artist (1917-1999). David successfully explored the artistic possibilities of recycled tin and aluminum cans from the mid-60s through the mid-90s, creating complex, textured images of rare beauty. A 1940 graduate of Cooper Union in New York City, he was a successful commercial artist who produced logos, booklets, advertisements and film strips for advertising agencies and corporations in his Manhattan studio. But he decided to also create art for his own pleasure, and, after experimenting with oil paints, began looking around for a medium to call his own. He soon discovered a source of an unexplored medium right at hand--discarded cans. He and his wife Betty began collecting cans from the trash bins of a nearby park long before recycling became common practice.

Wasserman Taxi on tin
Taxi  72" x 42"
Neighbors collected Chock Full O'Nuts coffee cans for months so David would have enough yellow metal for the body of the cab. The driver's moustache is cut from the image of roasted coffee beans that was featured on every can.

After washing and drying each can, David cut the metal into small pieces, and then stored each color in its own bin. He then assembled them into intricate metal mosaics that he fastened to a plywood base with chrome-plated nails normally used in the production of luggage. The pictures explore a variety of subjects depicted in a variety of styles.

Wasserman Williamsburg
Williamsburg   72" x 48"
David based this on a photograph taken on a Brooklyn street. His impetus for this piece came from a wish to see if he could produce the brilliant colors of a stained glass window using aluminum cans.

Wasserman Spaghetti Dinner from tin cans
Spaghetti Dinner  48 x 40"
Spaghetti Dinner is the most three-dimensional of David's works. The table protrudes 12" beyond the frame. Everything--the entire table setting (including the wine glass) and the food--is made from metal. The spaghetti is made from electrical wire.

Working on his metal "paintings" in his Long Island home on evenings and weekends, the artist eventually covered all his walls with his art, and stacked extra pieces in his basement. None were ever formally exhibited until after he passed away. He was not interested in selling his works, and they were seen only by neighbors, family and friends.

Pope John made from tin
Pope John XXIII  42" x 60"
Because the desired pink flesh tones were the only shades David couldn't find from cans, he produced them by painting pieces of sheet metal. The halo above the pope's head is made from the corrugations found in food-grade tin cans. David said he selected this subject to see if he could produce the varied textures of the pontiff's robes.

In 1998, David and Betty Wasserman moved to Nashville to be closer to their son, Steven. Steven finally persuaded his father to allow him to organize a show of David's metal art at the Tennessee State Museum--unfortunately, David Wasserman died in October, 1999, shortly before the exhibit opened. The pictures received attention and praise, and another Nashville show was mounted in 2003.

Steven created web site devoted to David's work, and recently published a comprehensive, full-catalog of his work. For further information and to see a listing of upcoming shows, visit David Wasserman's site.

Green Designs that Work at Work

Good news--more green designs are popping up in unexpected places, or should we say, in places where they should be showing up? Here are a few new choices proving that products, both good for you and good for the planet, are becoming available in the business world.

Herman Miller's New Desk Chair

Herman Miller chair
The innovative Mirra desk chair is designed for comfort and re-usability.

Many of us who spend a lot of time in office chairs know that it is difficult to find one that's comfortable, let alone earth friendly. The Herman Miller company recently introduced its newest design, the Mirra desk chair, which is both eco-friendly and ergonomic. A product of four years of research and development, the chair can be adjusted to fit a wide range of body types and positions. (The name, Mirra, refers to the way the chair mirrors the sitter's movement in all positions.) The chair is made of a minimal number of parts -- many have recycled content -- up to 96% of Mirra's materials can be recycled at the end of its useful life. The Mirra costs $640-$980. It is available two frame colors and 10 seat color choices including tangerine, terra cotta, deep green, and citron. To locate stores, call 800-851-1196 or visit www.hermanmiller.com. The company, which currently has 26 additional eco-friendly chairs in its collection, continues to develop other environmentally friendly furniture.

Office Depot's Eco-Friendly Office Products

Office Depot, one of the largest resellers of office products, has compiled "The Green Book Catalog" of environmentally preferable products for its Business Services Division contract customers. The catalog itself walks the walk. Printed on chlorine free, 100% post-consumer waste recycled content paper, it contains 1,348 products: mostly paper-based office supplies, remanufactured ink cartridges, trash cans and trash can liners. Catalogs are available for companies through Office Depot reps.

Consumers without business contracts can purchase eco-friendly products in their local Office Depot store and on their online catalog. The company continues to add products with recycled content to their stock. It also exclusively uses a house brand copy paper containing 35% post-consumer waste for all copy machines in copy and print centers in all their 870 stores.

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