In the mid 1990’s I began making found object sculptures in my Philadelphia studio. I didn’t know anyone else who was doing similar work and was beginning to think I was a little nuts. A friend told me that she had heard of a group called the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, a group of artists who worked with recycled and found objects. In those days before the internet, you couldn’t just google “Philadelphia Dumpster Divers” and find contact information.
Years went by until one day I was at a meeting about connecting artists with community groups and I raised my hand to ask a question. After the meeting I felt a tap on my shoulder and an interesting looking fellow dressed in a bright blue jacket said hello and told me he agreed with what I had said. We started talking. He introduced himself as Randy Dalton, and he asked me what kind of art I made. When I told him that I made sculptures from recycled found objects, he said, “Well then, you might want to join our group, the Dumpster Divers.” I was so excited that I grabbed him by the shoulders and jumped up and down with glee!
Meeting Randy Dalton changed my life. I met and became close friends with not just Randy, but a whole group of warm, talented, eccentric found-object artists. Our work has been widely shown, we share materials, and we have a great time together.
I learned that Randy always wore blue. He was not just an artist and the creator of The Blue Grotto in the CDC Center in West Philadelphia (google it!!) but was an art activist. His “Do Blue” campaign encouraged people to make blue the color to promote Philadelphia as an art destination. He even asked people to leave swimming pool lights on for travelers to see as they flew into Philadelphia at night.
He made and distributed hundreds blue “campaign buttons” to spread the word.
This is one of his buttons which I have mounted on a “repurposed” piece of blue foam from a pool float.
Unfortunately, this is also a memorial…Randy passed away unexpectedly in February of 2016.