Washington City mayor kicks off initiative to turn trash into art

ST. GEORGE — Washington City Mayor Kenny Neilson wants to take out the trash.

Artist Debbie Bice shows her work of trash art titled Roadside Ruby at Washington City Community Center Saturday, March 27, 2021. Photo by E. George Goold St. George News

At the Washington City Community Center Saturday morning, Neilson and the Washington City Arts Council kicked off the Lift, Clean, Place initiative that Neilson hopes will inspire residents to help clean up the trash around town.

Neilson told St. George News that his idea for the initiative was inspired by personal experience.

“One day, I had an instance where I watched somebody throw some trash out of their car onto Telegraph Road,” Neilson said. “It was really upsetting. That day, I looked around and thought, there’s just so much trash, we need to do something about it.”

An avid fan of the links, Neilson explained that lift, clean and place is a golf term.

“The rules are you can lift your golf ball, clean it and then place it down to have a better shot,” Neilson said. “I woke up one morning and this lift, clean and place idea just came to my mind, and so I thought I’ll make that an initiative. Lift the trash, clean the area and place the trash in a receptacle.

“And we’re going to do that,” he added. “I’m going to encourage families, individuals, HOAs, communities, high schools – all that need service projects done, this would be a perfect fit.”

Neilson talked about the initiative at his State of the City address, and that’s when the arts council got involved.

Debbie Bice, a board member for the Washington City Arts Council, said that art and trash removal can go hand-in-hand.

“This isn’t anything new, but it has kind of fallen by the wayside,” Bice said. “This idea of keep your area beautiful, clean up your community. We’ve kind of gotten a little slack with that. Incorporating the art into it creates another window that you can open up to clean up your community.”

According to Bice’s presentation, the term ‘Junk Art’ was first coined by British art critic Lawrence Alloway. It became known as Trashion in a revival during the 1980s.

Stock photo showing an example or art made using garbage. | Photo by Katarzyna Tyl/Pixabay, St. George News

The art is composed using scrap metal, broken-up machinery, cloth, rags, timber, plastic – anything found in garbage.

Bice showed an example of a flower portrait made out of water bottles, bottle caps, rebar, wire, an old plastic paint bucket and pieces of metal. Another example was a portrait made out of shredded aluminum cans and candy wrappers that sold for almost $200.

She also showed an example of her own trash art – a composition called Roadside Ruby that was made out of styrofoam, insulation and construction plastic. 

“When I was out collecting that trash to create Roadside Ruby, I can’t tell you the sense of pride that I felt personally in cleaning that up and knowing that when I turned around and looked at that whole stretch that I cleaned,” Bice said. “I was really proud of that.”

The arts council is sponsoring a trash art competition. Registration materials and information can be found by contacting Debbie Bice, Washington City Art Council, at 435-319-9666. Those interested may also email [email protected]gmail.com for a registration/entry form. More information is available on the Washington City Arts Council Facebook page.

Art works will be displayed and judged at the community center on April 24. First prize is $75, second prize is $50 and third prize is $25.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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