Tuesdays haven’t been so trashtastic lately, mostly due to the overwhelming schedule of my day job compounded by my Middle Eastern father’s annual month-plus-long visit. For those of you worried that this weekly feature had died, never fear! My friend Joe in San Fran has been hooking me up remotely with quality trash content from the other coast. The other day he emailed me a link to a new bandshell in a nearby park made by local artists from waste materials. I just had to know more about this initiative, so I looked up Will Chase, a local artist and coconspirator in the Panhandle Bandshell Project.
everydaytrash: How did you come up with the idea for the bandshell?
Will Chase: We’d gotten word that the SF Department of the Environment was offering grants through the Black Rock Arts Foundation for art installations made of recycled, reused and repurposed materials in three San Francisco parks: the project is called ScrapEden SF. Our team (The Finch Mob Arts Collective and REBAR arts collective) decided to go for the grant. We were brainstorming different types of installations that would work well in San Francisco’s Panhandle Park, and one of our crew, Marcus Guillard, threw out the idea of a bandshell. Of all the ideas we’d come up with — most of which were passive installations — the idea of a bandshell really resonated. Particularly because it’s interactive, community-oriented, participatory, and … well … a lot of us are performers of various sorts, and it would be fun to have a stage on which to perform. The key to the decision was that the idea resonated with everybody very strongly. That’s how ideas take life, and can be converted into action.
everydaytrash: Where did you find the materials?
Chase: We collected 65 car hoods (for the skin) from auto dismantlers and junk yards around the Bay Area. The 7 I-Beams that make up the foundation of the structure were reclaimed from a winery in Napa that had been demo’d … we got them via a steel distributor in Fresno. The structural steel for the arches was second-hand scrap from a steel foundry. The 60 French doors that make up the stage deck were from a school near Stanford … we got them via a repurposed building materials outfit called Building Resource (we also got our decorative streetlight lenses there). The doors were in-filled and our deck framed using lumber from a wood recycling company called the Reuse People, and a lot of our plywood and wood came from dismantling 8-foot storage crates from a Public Storage warehouse that was getting rid of them. The 3,000 plastic water bottles that make up the back wall were collected from a local live music club (The Independent), a spa (Bliss), and a big running Race (Bay to Breakers), as well as our personal friends. Finally, the several-hundred circuit boards that create the decorative facade over the arches came from a local junk redistributor called Ace Auto Dismantlers.
everydaytrash: Who has been taking advantage of the bandshell so far?
Chase: A little of everybody and everything. We’ve had live music, dance, theatre, vaudeville, spoken word, story telling for little kids, a capella opera singers, comedians, you name it. We also built four aerial pick-points into the front-most arch, so we’ve had aerialists perform on hoop and trapeze, too. It’s been very gratifying to see people really enjoying it as a performance stage, as well as appreciating it as an art installation. While the bandshell is open to anybody to use anytime during its open hours, many people book their performances, which you can see here.
everydaytrash: I see that it’s only up temporarily, are there plans in the work to repeat this or similar projects?
Chase: Our goal is to find a permanent home for the bandshell, most likely in another San Francisco park that is less proximate to neighboring residents. It was build modularly, so the whole thing can be dismantled, put onto a semi truck, taken anywhere, and assembled in three days with a wrench and a screwdriver … and a forklift. 😉 That said, the Finch Mob and REBAR are open to commissions to create similar installations wherever they may be wanted. We’re very interested in creating participatory, aesthetically-beautiful, civic installations that foster community through the arts. Anybody interested can contact me at email@example.com.
Photos by Will Chase (first two) and Marcus Guillard (third).