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June 12 – 14, InLiquid presents Art for the Cash Poor 16. This year, Go Mad for Change as InLiquid invites community partners to teach the public about their programming as well as participate in arts-related activities.

The Resource Exchange rescues abandoned props, sets and materials from film and theater productions around the city. Karyn Gerred, the Executive Director, shares some of her favorite stories of artists reusing and revitalizing these materials for new projects and creative opportunities.

Can you tell me more about The Resource Exchange?

The Resource Exchange is a nonprofit creative reuse center that re-envisions waste as valuable resources, saving art and educational supplies, props and decor, building materials, and other salvaged and donated materials and making them accessible to the public at low cost. We also feature local artists and host monthly workshops and events that focus on reuse as part of the creative process in our in-store gallery. The art work we’ve featured has spanned disciplines from painting to performance art to product design. Our low cost workshops and events are equally diverse, ranging from collage to weaving to book arts. Our goal is to provide affordable creative reuse materials to people of all income levels, backgrounds and ages to enable them to create with what was once considered “waste”.

We originally focused on saving materials from film and theatre productions, and we still save and sell salvaged scenery and props, which is one of the things that makes our shop unique. But now that we’ve expanded to our new Kensington location, our customers often become donors and vice versa, so we get daily donations of a wide range of materials from individuals and businesses as well.

You started out in the Navy Yard. How are you liking being a part of the local arts community in this area?

We started out as an all volunteer organization salvaging film and theatre set materials in temporary storage space in the Philadelphia Navy Yard where the films were being built and torn down, but our first open to the public location was actually close by in Port Richmond. Last year we expanded to our current location at 2nd & Cecil B. Moore in Kensington. We feel very fortunate that after opening our first location in the River Wards, we were able to move and expand and yet still remain in the historic “Workshop Of the World” neighborhoods that surround us. There is a definite DIY sort of character to this area, and since we are providing low cost reclaimed resources to artists and makers of all types, it’s been a perfect fit for us. We’re now within walking distance of a great deal of art activity along the Frankford Avenue, Girard Avenue, and American Street corridors. This whole area is also very public transit and bike friendly, which is key to a lot of the folks who come here.

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What has been your favorite discovery so far among the items you’ve salvaged?

This is always a tough question since a lot of the materials we save have great stories behind them! We’ve saved things like train car scenery from The Walnut Street Theatre, giant 8 foot umbrellas from the PHS Flower Show, and 50 lauan Henry IV army shields from Shakespeare in Clark Park! My current favorite would probably be the car load full of used canvas stretchers that someone just brought to us. Also, I love all of the Rocky vs. Creed framed boxing photos we just got donated from the set!

Recent staff favorites:
Alison – “Marshmallow Love” a Peeps coloring book about Peeps falling in love, in our Random Room!
Eric – A vintage reel to reel from the 40’s.
Laura – Antique lead flower frogs for flower arranging.

Do you have a favorite story from an artist reusing your materials to create work?

Equally tough to narrow down, since seeing artists transform our materials into something new is what we do every day! For me, it’s the work that has been created out of some of our most difficult to repurpose materials that is the most meaningful. Artists like Emily Manalo Ruiz’s gorgeous textile pieces and Kata Kolb’s dolls made out of things like discarded drop cloths and fabric scraps. And Chris Haig has made incredibly inventive theatre set and prop designs out of our reclaimed materials, some of which even came from previous productions, which is a closed loop I love to see. Other staff favorites:

Alison – Our January reCreate featured artist Emily Schnellbacher’s soft sculpture, especially her hearts made out of map fabric.
Eric – Me! I remodeled my art studio almost entirely out of Resource Exchange materials!
Laura – Also me! I loved the vintage Golden Encyclopedias for children that I used in my paper cutting works.

Do you have any exciting workshops or classes coming up?

Next month is an unusual one for us, because we’re having a big art sale of many years worth of beautiful works by our featured artist Nell Stifel, who is a scenic paint charge in the local film industry. She and many other local artists just lost their studio spaces due to a roof collapse of a building in our neighborhood, so they are now faced with trying to relocate their work before it gets ruined by the elements. We really love her work, so offering a month long sale to help get some of her work out in the world instead of in storage made sense. The reception is the same weekend that we’ll also be at your Art For The Cash Poor sale, so hopefully folks will stop by to check out both!

Also, Katie VanVliet, a local artist from the neighborhood in Sharktown Studios will be leading a reclaimed framing workshop this summer. And we’re actually just putting out our open call for artists to feature in our gallery and to instruct workshops that have a reuse theme for this fall!

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Do you think participating in an arts fair as a business rather than an individual artist creates a different dynamic with the customers?

Individual artists are trying to sell finished pieces at art fairs, but apart from the reMades that we sell we are also hoping to supply artists with interesting salvaged materials to transform into new works. So the dynamic at off-site events for us is also always about talking with local artists and trying our best to incentivize the use of reclaimed materials in future projects.

What are you looking forward to most about this year’s Art for the Cash Poor?

I look forward to checking out InLiquid’s Art for the Cash Poor every year, and have purchased some great artwork for myself there, so I’m really happy to have The Resource Exchange participate this year as a vendor! What makes it even better is that we’re just a 5 minute walk away now, so I’m hoping we’ll find lots of ways to work together with InLiquid as well as the other arts organizations in the Crane in the future.

The weekend-long fair invites attendees to navigate the Crane Arts space, which will be bursting with art vendors, live musical performances, culinary curiosities, and an outdoor beer garden. The addition of a Friday night ticketed preview party on June 12, 5:30 – 9 pm, serves as a meet-and-greet with the artists and a fundraiser for AIDS Fund, offering guests an exclusive sneak-peek at the festivities to follow. More details, including a full list of bands and participating artists, at the link.

Chris Macan

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