Trashy Art Gets Two Green Thumbs Up

Another man's trash becomes the public's treasure: part of the ongoing series "Know Your Neighbor"

is never short on flowers and butterflies. But the strategically situated recycled sculptures of garden staples add a new dimension to the pristine setting while redefining the meaning of recycling.

The creations were made with the help of the community and led by recycle artist Rodney "Rodrigo" McCoubrey. The Leucadia fixture best known for his recycled fish sculptures has worked with thousands of residents throughout the county to create art from garbage. His reinventions have become a mainstay throughout the city but never cease to push the bounds of creativity.

“The community is part of many of my creations,” McCoubrey said. There is a large piece on permanent loan from EDCO at the ,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible what you can make out of junk.”

McCoubrey said his love of texture and arts and crafts in addition to a desire to find a way to redefine garbage led him into the world of recycled art. “I saw things getting thrown away and thought this would be a cool way to reinvent them and give them a longer shelf life,” he said.

McCoubrey’s ongoing displays at the Encinitas and Carlsbad Libraries provide examples of community art created using recycled materials. “Not only do we make something that they (the children) can take home, but they build something that they can exhibit to help with their self-esteem,” he said. “It’s been pretty impressive the kids I’ve been able to work with.”

In fact, with the lack of consistent art classes in many public school districts, McCoubrey said it’s even more important to have access to hands on art that is easily accessible. “If I can only inspire kids through art to be a part of something big, that would be a success,” he said.

McCoubrey’s folk art differs from refined art he said. “I scour construction sites for plywood, kids bring trash to the workshops, it’s a joint effort,” he said. Old toys, hairbrushes, bottle caps and even street cleaner wheels are transformed into flowers, fish, hearts and anything that the creator can imagine.

In addition to creating public art, McCoumbrey is frequently commissioned by individuals and commercial interests. His work spans from custom handmade altars for loved ones, incorporating personal memorabilia to office space and restaurant interiors designed from recycled materials.

As McCoumbrey collects an ever-growing number of surfboards that have seen better waves, he’s started using them as a canvass for his art. “There’s always a place to make a new cutout in the board or paints that really make the design pop,” he said.

As much as McCoubrey would like to see less garbage mucking up the environment, he said he’s not going to be out of a job anytime soon. “As long as there’s human beings, I’m employed. There will always be trash,” he said.

McCoubrey’s authentic take on recycling extends into every facet of his work and life. “I’m committed to what I do,” he said. “I live the recycled life.” His floors are a tapestry of throwaway stone, his headboards are made from recycled fence posts and in every nook and cranny a new creation is made from seemingly useless trash. “I just keep reinventing,” he said.

For more information visit: www.rodrigosrecycledart.com.

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Sarah Riccitelli August 31, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Cool! Something good coming from what is normally considered an offensive tragedy.
Lynn Marr August 31, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Fascinating; thank you!
Beth Feeback September 01, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Fantastico!!!!!!! Go Rodrigo, go!!!!!


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