Art for Dumpsters Contest Raises Recycling Awareness

Art for Dumpsters finalist Robert Opal says Dallas is recycling, and even the Pegasus is in on the fun.

Art for Dumpsters 2016 finalist Robert Opal plays off Roy Lichenstein’s Pop-Art style to lend a happy face to dumpsters and a hip, fun side to everyday recycling. (Art via Robert Opal.)


LET’S FACE IT. DUMPSTERS ARE UGLY. As a society, we do whatever we can to hide these unwieldly symbols of waste, stashing them behind buildings and on the fringes of parking lots. We don’t want to think about our trash. We don’t want to think about where it goes.

The City of Dallas Sanitation Services is trying to change that. Through its Art for Dumpsters contest, the city aims to raise awareness of, and stimulate conversation about, its recycling dumpsters – by transforming them into artistic masterpieces.

“ZERO WASTE” PLAN

In the last few years, Dallas has adopted a “zero waste” plan, which aims for 40 percent diversion by 2020, 60 percent diversion by 2030, and “maximum diversion” (i.e., all or most waste being diverted from landfills and reused or recycled instead) by the year 2040.

“We’d been watching the murals for the 42 Murals Project go up in Deep Ellum, and we wondered: What if we could get artists to paint murals on our recycling containers?”

Recycling isn’t yet mandatory here in Dallas, and businesses and apartments don’t always receive recycling pickup, so it’s important that everyone is made aware of the city’s recycling drop-off sites – and the importance of recycling in general.

Currently, there are more than 140 drop-off sites sprinkled throughout the Dallas area.

“We’d been watching the murals for the 42 Murals Project go up in Deep Ellum, and we wondered: What if we could get artists to paint murals on our recycling containers?” says Patricia Davis, a coordinator for the city of Dallas. “Our goal is to do something creative and different that will attract attention to the fact that we have these drop-off sites.”

To help raise awareness – and work towards its zero-waste goal – City of Dallas Sanitation Services, in collaboration with Deep Ellum Community Association, came up with Art for Dumpsters, a dumpsterscontest in which artists (of all ages and skill levels) are invited to plan and submit a dumpster mural design.
The dumpsters in question are gray-primed and approximately 6 cubic yards in size.

The designs should be submitted electronically, and after the March 22 extended deadline, a team of judges comprised of city officials and respected members of the art community and press will narrow down the submissions to five winners (plus one standby).

The designs, according to Davis, should incorporate the city of Dallas and a recycling-positive or environmentally friendly message. Most of all, the designs should showcase the artist’s creativity.

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Art for Dumpster finalist Robert Opal says “Everyone Loves A Recycler!” (Art via Robert Opal.)

DEEP ELLUM ARTS FESTIVAL

The contest will culminate during the 22nd annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival, a free three-day event that showcases visual artists and musicians, hosts a pet parade, and vends plenty of food and drink.

The event runs from April 1-3, encompasses six blocks, and will feature more than 200 artists and 100 musicians.

On Saturday, the five Art for Dumpsters finalists will have the day to paint their design on a recycling container.

“Art belongs to all people, and we need all of us to help take care of our environment.”

That evening, the judges will choose a best in show winner. Fifteen containers will be wrapped with the winning designs and distributed through north, west, south, and east Dallas.

The design that steals the show at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival also will be featured (via wrap) on a City of Dallas recycling collection truck. In addition to having their masterpiece dumpsters featured at Earth Day Texas (April 22-24 at Fair Park), each finalist will receive $2,250 for winning plus an additional $250 for supplies. The grand prize artist will be awarded an extra $1,500.

“We definitely think this will attract attention,” Davis says. “Art belongs to all people, and we need all of us to help take care of our environment.”


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