He has turned recycling into an art form
David Wildman - Boston Globe
Life is an ongoing collage of found imagery for artist Dan O'Conner. He makes painting and sculpture using pages of discarded magazines, balls, and wood remnants fromm the Big Dig and Boston Harbor.
"I recycle things," says O'Conner, 34. "I'm using what is literally garbage. I never buy any paint because I can get such vibrant colors using magazines and glue."
He sits proudly with his work at Zaftigs Eatery in Coolidge Corner, where nearly 50 of his paintings are on display. O'Conner has a deal with management that allows him to use the restaurant as an art storage house and change his inventory at will. Despite most of the work having evolved from trash, the eye-catching collages seem at home in this classy eatery, betraying few clues as to their humble origins.
"I love taking a picture of a shoe and turning it into a nose that fits so perfectly that it looks photographic from 10 feet away," says O'Conner.
"Magazines have mounds of the best color palette in the universe, and all you need is glue and an imagination."
Another work in the restaurant looks from a short distance like a multicolored, three-dimensional painting. On closed inspection, you notice it's really a glued together mass of tennis, golf, ping pong, and any other kind of ball you can imagine.
"I've collected more than 3,000 balls," says O'Conner. "People say, 'you must have a lot of time on your hands.' But they can't understand the spiritual transformation that happens. I'm so at peace when I do it."
O'Conner has found a kindred soul in artist Jeff Smith, a sculptor with a similar junk-collecting obsession, who works out of the studion next to his at the Revolving Museum in Fort Point.
The two have collaborated on a piece they call "The Foyer." It is actually an entryway made of found weathered wood that will greet visitors arriving at the Revolving Museum Open Studios.
"The great thing about the Revolving Museum is that I showed up thinking I was crazy because I collect found wood, and then I found someone who does it as much as I do," says O'Conner. "The place is filled with the most amazing talent, and when you go into these studios you can see how obviously committedd these people are by the massive amounts of work and how honed their aesthetic is."
The Revolving Museum Open Studios at 300 A street in For Point will be open all day today. Zaftigs Eatery is at 335 Harvard Ave., Brookline.