Napa Valley College Art
Napa, CA September 20, 2007
PLASTICS RECYCLED: SCULPTURE BY MIKE WITTELS
Napa Valley College Art
Gallery presents Plastics Recycled: Sculpture by Mike Wittels, an
installation of heated and shaped plastic. The artist heats and
shapes plastic saved and collected, some of which is 20 years old.
The individual pieces are combined into freestanding sculptures or
attached to a wall to create what Benicia artist Mike Wittels calls
moveable paintings. The exhibit is at the Napa Valley College Art
Gallery, 1360 Menlo Avenue, Napa, CA. The opening reception is
Thursday, October 11, 5-7 PM. The show runs October 11- December 12.
The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 2-6PM. Admission is
For the past year and a
half he has collected all the plastic that comes as packaging from
things he buys, mostly food, as well as plastic items discarded by
others and left in the recycle area of his studio building.
Mike Wittels uses a
variable temperature industrial heat gun and other tools. Because
heat-induced changes in the materials happen unpredictably, he has to
concentrate completely, varying the distance, angle of attack and
temperature of the heat gun. Each type of plastic behaves differently
-- dripping like melting wax, shrinking, bubbling, toasting or
pooling, for example. After he is satisfied with what he is working
on, he pins it to the studio wall or places it on a shelf as a
three-dimensional element. Some are combined into an assemblage or
fastened to flat supports to make paintings.
“I like the idea
of re-using something,” said Mike Wittels. “In the case
of plastic, so much of it is used briefly and discarded: outer
‘cellophane’ wrappings of packages, food containers,
Styrofoam, utensils, razors, cups, straws, water bottles, and so on.
Speaking of bottles of water, did you know that making a plastic
bottle uses up twice as much water as that bottle ends up containing?
Plastic manufacture accounts for the second largest
consumption of oil, after transportation: just to make all of the
bottle-water containers sold in the US during last year used 17
billion of oil. It's big business, too: The sales for bottled water
are estimated to be between $50 and $100 billion a year and rising. I
like the fact that my work may make people more aware. But mainly I
am using the plastic because, like Sir Edmund Hilary said of Mt
Everest, it's there. In the end, the important thing is the art.”
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