An artistic reincarnation

Refuse is reborn onto the canvases and pedestals of local artists in the MCA exhibition titled “UpCycled: Turning Waste into Wonder.”

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted March 30, 2023 | By Julie Garisto

File photo: David D’Alessandis works on his painting Paradise at his home studio in Ocala on Thursday, June 3, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

Upcycling elevates recycled material into something new with better quality. The eco-friendly concept has inspired artists internationally and, most recently, Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) Gallery Director Ashley Justiniano. 

Justiniano, who came up with the idea to gather artists and the community to celebrate Earth Day, got the trash ball rolling to premiere MCA’s exhibition and event series, “UpCycled: Turning Waste into Wonder,” at the MCA’s Brick City Center for the Arts from Friday, April 7, to Saturday, April 29. The show kicks off with a members-only reception from 5 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 7.

Florida Express Environmental has signed on as the exhibit sponsor. The company offers residential and commercial solid waste services throughout a six-county region that includes Ocala. Company officials talked with MCA Executive Director Jaye Baillie about inviting an MCA artist member to gather refuse from one of their sites to use to create an original artwork, which the company would potentially buy to hang in its main office.

“We anxiously wait for the April 7 event to see what trash will now become an artistic treasure,” said John Paglia, owner and president of Florida Express Environmental. 

MCA recently posted photos of a Florida Express Environmental site visit on social media. 

“Jaye and I just tagged along with artist David D’Alessandris to take pics and meet our sponsors,” said Justiniano. 

Since moving to Ocala in 2006, D’Alessandris has served as a board member and artist liaison for MCA. He paints and creates three-dimensional and mixed media artworks. He earned a bachelor’s in fine arts degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

The artist’s tactile “Quillage” collection won Best in Show at the College of Central Florida Webber Gallery around 12 years ago. His work has been exhibited at the Brick City Center for the Arts and NOMA Ocala, among other galleries.  He was selected to create “Forest King,” a Horse Fever 10th Anniversary statue, in 2011. 

Last week, he joined Baillie and Justiniano at the Florida Express Environmental recycling site to scavenge for materials to use in his submission, which will be revealed at the opening reception.

“The flamingo looks upon a path to fantasy mountain”; cut paper from many printed sources, old clothes, food packaging, reclaimed stones, paint, markers and a reused frame; 26” x 38” – By Laura Nell Britton

“In all my years as an artist, I must say that this collaboration with Florida Express Environmental is one of the most fun challenges I’ve had the opportunity to create,” D’Alessandris said.  “I am obsessed. I have worked on the piece, and I must say watching it develop is a story in itself.”

Another standout in the show, Laura Nell Britton, is an accomplished illustrator/mixed media artist with a knack for imaginative imagery. The international traveler and author of the semi-autobiographical “Monkey Mind and the Melting Heart” infuses her works with colorful humor and pathos.

“The panda constructs his bed in a jungle and eats bamboo”; cut paper from many printed sources, candy wrappers, cloth, paint, markers, reused mat and frame; 20” x 25” – By Laura Nell Britton

“I get some glue, start sticking stuff to cardboard and enjoy the process,” Britton said. The process, she added, makes her feel like she’s 6-years-old again and she relishes the opportunity to “make merry fun.”

Of her “Upcycled” works, she said, “The flamingo looks upon a path to fantasy mountain” and “the panda constructs his bed in a jungle and eats bamboo” and did indeed bring out her inner child as she crafted her intricate assemblages from found materials such as cut paper from many printed sources, old clothes and food packaging. 

“Upcycled” ticketed events happening throughout the month will benefit the MCA. “Family-Friendly Fabric Fun” cuts things up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, and “Trashy Tuesday: Turning Trash Into Treasure” teaches art lovers 10 and older how to creatively repurpose items from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11.  Tickets are free to Trashy Tuesday but reservations via EventBrite are requested.

On April 29, local designers invite fashionistas and fashion lovers to the “Get WAISTED, not WASTED!” fashion Show from 5:30-7:30 p.m. At the event, models will be decked out in ensembles composed of recycled materials. DJ Matt Maio will spin tunes and Darian Mosley will emcee. Also, cheers to the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres included with the ticket price of $40 for MCA members and $50 for non-members. Proceeds will go to the organization’s ongoing efforts to provide art and art education to the community.

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