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Houston’s Artistic Recycling Trucks

The Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) and the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) recently debuted six new recycling trucks decorated by local artists. The trucks were debuted at a community event on August 13.

The innovative Art Recycling Truck project celebrates the City's commitment to "going green," furthers the mission of HAA's Civic Art + Design program and showcases artworks by local artists Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola, CORE Design Studio, Aaron Muñoz, Troy Stanley, Ariane Roesch and Kia Neill.

“An important component of HAA's mission is to expand the reach of local arts beyond gallery and museum walls, ” HAA President and CEO Jonathon Glus said in a statement. “The Art Recycling Truck project is, in effect, a museum on wheels. These six mobile artworks will travel greater Houston for an anticipated seven years, bringing art - and City recycling services - to Houston residents. ”

In 2013-2014, SWMD drastically expanded its city-wide automated curbside recycling program. "When the expansion is complete at the end of this year, the City will be providing single stream recycling to the entire 640-square mile service area, which incorporates approximately 380,000 homes," SWMD Director Harry Hayes said in a statement. "The artwork displayed on the recycling trucks helps draw public attention to the fact that these trucks are utilized in 'repurposing' materials that would otherwise be considered trash. Over the past several years the City has made substantial progress in its recycling efforts and having these trucks in the public arena helps to create awareness and participation in the program."

A panel of professional Houston artists selected six local artists from an open call of applicants to design the Art Recycling Trucks and a smaller work of similar design for the City of Houston Municipal Art Collection. Artists' Recycling truck designs were printed on vinyl panels, then "wrapped" around the City trucks.

The 2014 Art Recycling Trucks and artists are:

  • Green Dream by Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola features larger-than-life images of fig ivy, photographed by the artist in Houston's Museum District;
  • Patterns of Consumption by CORE Design Studio utilizes x-ray blueprints of recyclable materials in a harmonious mandala pattern to create a visual metaphor of their environmental effects and memory;
  • Mad Tax Beyond the Astrodome by Aaron Muñoz imagines the recycling of Houston's Astrodome with post-apocalyptic flare;
  • Forest for the Trees by Troy Stanley, whose nostalgic wood grain design is taken from photographs of the artists' scrap wood materials, resembles a wooden toy truck;
  • I Have a Positive Impact by Ariane Roesch is a patchwork quilt of recycled materials left over from the artist's previous soft sculpture works;
  • Recycled City by Kia Neill employs the trompe-l'œil effect, depicting digitally manipulated photographs of steel I-beams mangled by Hurricane Ike.

In April 2014, the first Art Recycling Truck, Green Dream, debuted at the Mayor's Earth Day Breakfast. The following month, Green Dream and the second Art Recycling Truck, Patterns of Consumption, participated in the Houston Art Car Parade. Once "wrapped" with their design, the Art Recycling Truck vehicles were immediately put to work, collecting recyclable materials from Houston residents' homes.

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