Friday, May 21, 2010

Mike Esposito : One of my Favorite Eco-Artists

Mike Esposito: From Trash to the Gallery 364 in Brooklyn NY - Read How This Eco-Artist is Reducing the Carbon Footprint!

A giant 8-ball made out of upcycled trash hangs at Gallery 364 in Brooklyn!

When Mike Esposito walks up the sidewalk of his New Jersey neighborhood, or goes to work in the streets of New York his eyes are scouring the gutters. There lay broken  pen caps or pieces of metal, maybe even scraps or parts of broken toys. Surely this is all evidence of the ongoing carbon footprint of mankind. Most would scowl and walk away, but not this guy. Mike carefully collects these pieces of trash; as for him, it’s his lucky day. Some may call it a bit of a curb cleanup, maybe even a greenie way to live, but as Mike sees it, these pieces spell opportunity—for Mike is an artist and these are his art supplies.

Mike’s definitely not your average 49 year old. When he sees something abandoned, in the trash or on the way to the dump, he sees its’ alternative use. To him, trash is treasure. Mike has always been one to want to make or build something experimental out of parts or pieces. A rusty old cement mixer headed for the scrap pile gives way to components he can use in his metal sculptures. Old bikes found in the trash provided parts for him to restore an old 1950’s Schwinn into a functional ride. An old 1957 jukebox headed for the landfill was overlooked by many, but to Mike it was love at first sight. Soon this gave way to a restoration project that took years in the making, as he had faith it would someday play romantic tunes again. Now the ‘ol jukebox, fully restored is a functioning part of history that he and his family enjoy and use. Reclaim, repurpose, reinvent, recycle, reuse are just a few of Mike’s favorite vocabulary words.

The American Flag” as displayed at 364 Gallery in Brooklyn

Look closely at Mike Esposito’s “The American Flag” sculpture to see all reused parts.

One of this earlier projects,  "The American Flag" came together gradually and went into competition at Gallery 364 in Brooklyn. Mike said, “I just kept bringing home items that were found in the street and on construction sites that were trash. These items were red, white and blue. It took me a year to gather all the discarded material for the flag. When I had enough pieces my son Anthony and I would put them on the floor all together to see how they looked. I was surprised at how great it actually was. It took four months to assemble. I glued them on a board –yes-- even the plywood that holds it all together was found in the garbage. “

So what does Mike’s family think of this? Anthony, now 12, and his lovely wife Rachel love the fact he’s making great art and doing his part to keep the world greener. Rightfully so, Mike is saving the environment one trashy piece at a time. Mike said, “They also helped in my Peace Sign sculpture which contained over two thousand plastic army men!”
“Peace Sign” sculpture by Mike Esposito as shown in 364 Gallery. 

Notice how the grenade really sets this piece off

“Peace Sign” details-tiny army men, imagine 2000 of them!

Mike is currently working with old metal tools and rusted horse shoes, having showing his first piece in a new series recently. Behold,   “Mr. Ed.”  Made primarily of horseshoes and found metal, he is simply amazing.
Mike stands with "Mr. Ed".

Just how easy is it to find supplies for metal work? Mike says, “The metal tools, rusty bolts and iron are easy to find --a lot of people just throw away things that you would never believe. I found a box not far from my house with 80 year old rusty tools that were from a Model-T Ford sitting out for trash.”
A reclamation project in the making, this soon will be painted black and functional to hold  coats.  Not to mention, Mike send me one made with pliers in the middle.  See photos of that on my Personal BlogSpot.

So I wondered, what else do Mike’s eyes see in a pile of trash that we may miss? He says, “I found a ton of old books and 45 records once. I gave the books away and sold some of the 45s but the ones that were no good I’ll l be using for a different art project. “ (I think I see some of those in the “Eight Ball” sculpture that was also shown at Gallery 364…)
What’s down the road for Mike? He replies, “My big idea is to work with a group of people who are artists and have the same views about recycling that I have. My dream is to build an ART CAR, a car totally made from trash.”

Something tells me he will...which is why Mike is one of my favorite artists of all time, and truly an inspiration.  

To see Mike’s work or to contact him for a commission, contact Gallery 364 located at 364 72nd Street, by appointment only.

Mike says, "Gallery 364 is the best in Brooklyn!" He extends his special thanks to Georgine Benvenuto for her dedication and help in featuring his work in the gallery.

To read more on Mike, who has been featured in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the talk of several blogs, you may browse some of the articles below.

Article about Mike featured in The Daily Eagle of Brooklyn, NY

ArtBikeMike online gallery on Flickr  make sure to check this out, you can see photos of the jukebox!

Official Site and Blog of Gallery 364

Associated Content

©2009 and used with permission. Check out additional reprints of this article on Ira Mency's Associated Content Page and Ira Mency Blog.   Credit for all photos to Mike Esposito .

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