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The Arts Scene

Are you going to recycle that?

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(3/2012) I am writing this article in the midst of the Mountís "Recyclemania," a campus-wide effort to recycle plastic, aluminum, paper, and glass in order to better our environment and prevent damage to it from the overwhelming number of trash that is wasted on even just a daily basis. Of course the typical call to action for all of us because of efforts like this one is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This time, letís focus on reusing.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of efforts there are to encourage recycling in the area. The Adams County Arts Council will be hosting its 17th Annual Recyclable Art Contest in April, which is open to students across the county, including all Adams County schools, home-schoolers, Scout troops and other student organizations for children in grades K-12. Participants are invited to turn trash into treasure as they transform bottles, paper, and aluminum into works of art.

The contest is coordinated by Ann Walsh and is sponsored by Just Jennifer Gallery, which is located at 33 York Street in Gettysburg. Cash prizes will be awarded for the masterpiece that wins "Best of Show" and also for each grade level of the competition. Entries will be on display at the council's Arts Education Center, located at 125 South Washington Street in Gettysburg. The exhibit will open with a First Friday reception on April 6th from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and it will close with the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 21st at noon.

There will be an opportunity for the public to be involved with part of the jurying process, as everyone is invited to vote for the People's Choice Award during the exhibit hours, which are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guidelines about the contest can be found at, or you could call the center at 717-334-5006. With this program, the Arts Council aims to cultivate an arts-rich community while raising awareness about recycling and the different ways that we can reuse materials to make beautiful works of art.

Iím sure youíve all heard the saying, "One manís trash is another manís treasure." Well, this next organization is the epitome of that concept. The "Put A Lid On It" (PALOI) project is a creative project for the Quad-State region of West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Designed by David F. Heatwole and organized by The Arts Collaborative, the project has already gotten attention from as far away as California.

The project asks us a simple question: what are you doing with your lids? As most Americans would agree, they are probably being thrown away. The lids on most bottles are made of a different type of plastic than most of the bottles themselves, and therefore cannot be recycled. Millions of lids are being dumped into landfills, and this project helps us think of ways to reuse these non-biodegradable items in a thoughtful and creative way.

So, in an effort to prevent wasting these lids and in an attempt to take a whole new approach to art, David Heatwole and The Arts Collaborative ask you to save your lids! Why, you ask? Because they can be used as the medium or "paint" for an art project. So how exactly can you use these lids as "paint?" Well, you can arrange the lids based on size, color, etc. to achieve different shapes and values, which ends up looking like a sort of mosaic. The projects are usually murals or a series of murals, all of which are made up of the lids.

As this project continues to grow, it is uniting people by making it a collaborative effort to utilize recycling and create masterpieces. The project has been an inspiration to many people by allowing us to do something positive for the environment, all the while "educating the community on the power of art and the imagination" and "creating works of beauty for the community in which we live," as stated on the programís website ( The ultimate goal is to have the project become a national program.

For those of you who wish to be more involved in this process, you have a few options available to you. First, the most obvious, is to donate your lids! There is a drop off spot right here in our very own Frederick, MD. It is located at the Blue Elephant Arts Center, which you can find at 4a West 5th Street. The phone number for the center is 301-663-7809. They will be taking lids only on the second Sunday of the month. Those "useless" lids that you would originally throw away could become part of a masterpiece, so why not donate them to a great cause such as this one?

Secondly, you could make a monetary donation to the project. The funds would go toward salvaging the lids and preventing the environment from the amount of waste the lids would create, and the funds would of course contribute to making beautiful works of art in our communities. More information about making a monetary donation can be found on the projectís website.

Or, if you want a truly interactive way to be a part of this project, you could purchase your very own PALOI Masterpiece Art Kit. Heatwole explains that each kit is a "large mural project that is as simple as a paint-by-number to construct." The kits are wonderful for schools and communities to work together to create a colorful mural that is in the pattern of an artistic masterpiece. Some examples include A Field of Tulips in Holland by Claude Monet, The Walk, Woman with a Parasol by Claude Monet, Starry Night by Vincent VanGogh, The Basket of Apples by Paul Cťzanne, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, and Woman in Front of a Mirror by Pablo Picasso. Projects can also be custom made for your specific interests and preferences, because there are thousands of paintings that could be used as an inspiration for a mural like these ones.

The murals come in four different sizes, but they can be made specifically to fit the location you have decided to dedicate to your mural. The four sizes include 8 feet by 16 feet, 12 feet by 32 feet, 16 feet by 40 feet, and 20 feet by 56 feet in both horizontal and vertical sizes.

This is a great low-cost, instructional, and fun art project for individuals or groups of any age. It unites the school or community while raising awareness and education about recycling. Through active participation and interaction, those involved can learn about art and the environment as they make stunning artwork that makes a statement both visually and environmentally.

Heatwole expressed that he believes the arts can play a role in society like never before. He believes "the key to solving many of the manís ailments and ongoing problems are stored in the imaginations of the artisans." So think of this as a challenge. Make recyclable art. Save your lids. Do something to make a difference in the world while still being able to express your artistic nature in a way that you never have before. This project is a great lesson for all of us by encouraging us to think outside the box and outside the canvas.

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke