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Shaw Artist Chuck Baxter: Trash to Treasure

by Borderstan.com November 29, 2010 at 5:30 am 1,166 0

Chuck Baxter Luis Gomez Photos

Chuck Baxter in his studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Cecile Oreste at danceDC

The familiar saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is particularly relevant to Mid City Artist Chuck Baxter. For more than 15 years, the Shaw resident has created works of art from objects found in the alleys of D.C. Basketballs, ties, yogurt containers, vodka bottles, lighters and car air fresheners have all been artistic inspiration to the area’s “foremost collector of gutter gifts.”

Whether you view his work as trash or treasure, Baxter has had great success exhibiting in the area. He has shown his work at Artomatic, Arts on Foot, Touchstone Gallery, Studio Gallery, Mid City Caffe and the 17th Street Festival, among others. Currently, he is part of a group show, “Social Network in the Neighborhood,” with 11 other Mid City Artists at DC Loft Gallery on 14th Street NW.

When it comes to his artistic process, Baxter admits that there is not much planning involved. The approach may differ for each piece, but the result is always something unique.

“I rarely have a preconceived notion of what I’m going to do,” he said. “I usually look at the materials and think about what I can do with them. Sometimes it comes to me. Sometimes I manipulate the material.”

Chuck Baxter Luis Gomez Photos

Chuck Baxter says his work is rarely political, but there was an exception at Artomatic last year. (Luis Gomez Photos)

According to Baxter, he rarely makes a political statement with his work, but his piece, “Drama at the Abortion Clinic,” created a discussion around the issue and raised a lot of eyebrows at last year’s Artomatic.

“I wanted to find something to do with gloves and it evolved into a political statement about abortion, he said. “Most people thought it was creepy or weird.”

Right now he is working on a piece comprised of an ironing board, plastic bags and other objects. Baxter is also doing needle and thread work with a screen door. Previously, he created window shades out of photo negatives and he formed small creatures out of miscellaneous items. “I go through spurts,” he said. “I run out of things to do then move on. I run out of interest before developing the technique.”

Baxter does not make a living from his art unlike many of the other Mid City Artists. Instead, the retired U.S. Veterans Administration bureaucrat creates art for his own amusement. In addition, he spends his time volunteering for a number of organizations including the Westminster Neighborhood Association, the ARRIBA Center for Independent Living and the Washington Men’s Camerata. For more information about Baxter, visit the Mid City Artists website.

Chuck Baxter Luis Gomez Photos

Chuck Baxter with samples of his work in his Shaw studio. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Mid City Artist Profiles

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