[]Dennis Kowalski

Sculpture, at Beret International Gallery, October 1997

"Trail's End" 16x48x96" Plywood, stone, plastic horse 1997

"Native American Housing - Plains" 14x36x54" Floor tile and stone, (variable) 1997


Proposal for an Art Exhibition

When I was a child, I rolled four automobile tires down the railroad tracks for about a half mile to the junk yard. This venture helped fund a present for my mother. The efficiency of those days always appealed to me. Not much was wasted and things were recycled as a matter of course. Recycling was more natural then due primarily to the necessities of WWII and its aftermath. This country had not yet begun to produce the enormous amount of consumer goods, garbage, and waste that has since become integral to our economy and lifestyle. Somehow within the prevailing American sense of optimism, the hope seems to be that we can continue consuming as desired as long as we recycle. Other countries are encouraged to join us, in order to increase the fortunes of American and other like minded transnationals. Recycling makes us feel better, is better than doing nothing, and makes some money, although it is not necessarily for the consumer. Mostly the money goes to places like GREEN FIELD WASTE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION. A growth industry. The bigger we get, the bigger they get.

Although it's grueling and not very lucrative work I have long valued the labor, efficiency, and the true recycling efforts of the drivers that go through our alleys making some sort of living off of society's excesses. Many other people function in similar capacities, but I would like to bring attention to the pickup truck drivers because of their systematic, industrious, and consistent efforts at making a living where there is little other opportunity. Recycling may not be foremost in the minds of these drivers, but they do the job, directly and without trendy hypocrisy, of much of the rest of us. Paradoxically, as is the American Dream, it is my observation and experience that these drivers also would like to become part of the consumer nightmare, or at least have as much of the nightmare as I have.

Not long ago, it was a difficult process to dispose of items other than basic kitchen trash. The garbage men complained,the neighbors complained, and dumping in vacant lots was prevalent. With the pickup truck drivers and other entrepreneurs of our downsized economy, little stays in the alley longer than ten minutes except the kitchen trash.

I have a proposal for an Art installation. My proposal is this: Have three pickup truck scavengers take their usual daily pickups and unload their trucks into the exhibition space. I would make no aesthetic judgments or decisions. The drivers would be paid the going rate for their loads in addition to a fee for unloading. At the conclusion of the exhibition the drivers would be invited back to reload their trucks and be paid for reloading. They could then, if they wished, take their loads to the recycling center and sell the loads as usual. As part of the exhibition the drivers would be credited for contributing to the exhibition, but only if they wanted credit.

The drivers would be making additional money and it would be easier. It would save them the time of searching for metallic trash, therefore as good entrepreneur/artists, I would help contribute to their livelyhood, add to the economy, waste gas and oil, create senseless activity, and add to or detract from my artistic reputation. I think I'll skip it. -- DK

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