The Dumpster Divers in City Hall for the “Get Out the VOTE Philly!” show

by Alden Cole on July 10, 2016 · 0 comments

“Voting is the foundational act that breathes life into the principle of the consent of the governed.” — DeForest Soaries (20 Aug 1951 – )

2015DiverAwardsPosterizedWPThe Dumpster Divers, seen pictured at left in a posterized photo from last years Awards Banquet, an annual event held at Famous Deli at 4th & Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia, is a merry group of pranksters expressing ourselves as artists, and occasionally posing as such, as evidenced by the photo at left. I’ve been associated with this delightfully eclectic group since 2005 when they had a show of artistically-licensed working-play at a large second-floor gallery-space on South Street – “the hippest street in town” according to that great 1963 hit by Philadephia group The Orlons – a gallery show I talked my way into, thanks to the introductions and encouragement of friends Betsy Alexander and Burnell Yow! I was just looking for a chance to sell some work, and it happened; repeatedly, as it has turned out over the years, thanks to the multiple involvements of this lively group which grows with each year.

CityHall3WPOur latest endeavor as a group is being part of an invitational show that Tu Huynh, the director of the Art in City Hall program, put together drawing on the resources of over ten different local groups, to promote getting out the vote in Philly, a show that will be up for the Democratic National Convention coming to town from July 25-28. At left is a patched-together photograph for my out-of-town friends, of Philadelphia’s awe-inspiring City Hall which sits at the intersection of Broad Street, which runs north/south, and Market Street, running east/west. The beaux arts building, a prime example of belle epoque architecture done American-style, is the central pivot of the city. As such it really deserves a photographic posting of its own, but that will have to wait for another time.

AC&2ndFloorCaseWPFor now, the matter at hand is talking up the show that the Divers, thanks to the coordinating efforts of member Jim Ulrich, have put together from a wide variety of recycled and repurposed materials, urging people to vote. As a group, we were allotted two display cabinets on the
Dave'sVOTEmachineWPupper floors, which we filled with a selection of varied artworks. Above left is a photo of myself posing next to the cabinet on the second floor, near a couple of my own entries, shown below in detail. At left is a photo of Dave Christopher operating his VOTE machine right next to the cabinet on the second floor. Inspired by the timely
Diver4thFloorWPconcept of DD founder Neil Benson, this piece was done in the style of Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture in JFK Plaza, aka Love Park, across from City Hall. Like the sign on top says “PUSH AND PULL: It won’t work unless you make it work.” Sounds like life itself. At left the cabinet on the fourth floor.

VOTE:WPYour Vote is Precious – Don’t Waste It! • mixed-media assemblage, 17″ x14″ x 3″ • collection of the artist

At left, the first piece that came together for the show. Utilizing a framed but damaged 3D artwork, I randomly added several more dimensional elements, including an old toilet seat. Adding the word VOTE to the composition was a total after-thought which qualified the piece for the show, although I was skeptical, thinking it would be rejected, knowing the piece might be seen as too cynical. However it was accepted for inclusion in the show, thanks in part to a title inspired by fellow diver Jim Ulrich, showing the power of a well-chosen phrase.

LiberteEgaliteFraternite2WP>Liberté Egalité Fraternité • mixed media assemblage, 22″ x 16″ • collection of the artist

In thinking about the Voting theme and casting about for some inspiration, I remembered an old illustration I had done back in the early 70s when I was working as a fashion illustrator in Manhattan. I had been commissioned by a subsidiary of Dupont to create a line drawing of four youthfully-fashionable teens sporting VOTE t-shirts and tank-tops geared to appeal to the newly-enfranchised. The times they were a’changing; for the election of 1972, Congress had passed the 26th amendment to the Constitution, dropped the voting age for national elections from 21 to 18. I had a single printed copy of the mailing piece left in my files, which seemed perfect for a little alteration to suit my contemporary purposes. Red White & Blue! Liberty Equality & Fraternity! Get with it!

Signage&RadioWPDumpster Diver Art Speaks… (mixed media signage, 36″ x 24″) with VOTE luminary (repurposed wooden radio-case, 10″h x 14″w x 8″d) lit with remote-controlled LED light-bulb, shown below doing its color-changing thang…

My third and last entry combines a revamped sign, originally done in collaboration with Dumpster Diva Ellen Sall for the Philadelphia Home Show several years ago, with an empty radio case that had been given to me as recently as May by D/Diva Sally Willowbee. Immediately after receipt I transformed the case into a color-changing luminary, which complements the signage very nicely.


“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.” quote by Robert Frost (26 Mar 1874 – 29 Jan 1963)

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