BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
Before there was recycling, there was found. As in found art, which is also known as readymade. Marcel Duchamp started it in the early 1920s when he scandalized the art world with sculptures made from unmodified coat racks and urinals.
The idea went mainstream a long time ago, long before recycling became a noble concept. Making art from found objects is probably more common today than painting with oils. And unlike recycling, its main mission, as with all art, is to create, not to save. Still, it's nice to think that on occasion, it can do both.
"Upcycled" at the Morean Arts Center features 22 artists and craftsmen, most from St. Petersburg. All use found materials inventively recycled in works that range from quirky to elegant.
This was designed as a holiday show with lots of affordable gift ideas, so some of the items may seem irrelevant now that the holidays are over. But gift-giving is a year-round cycle for most of us (Valentine's Day is right around the corner!), so this is an opportunity to shop ahead or replenish your gift drawer.
There are also works in the show that weren't created specifically as gifts (and would be expensive gifts if so intended) that provide interesting perusal. Chairs covered with elaborate mosaics are like the popular MacKenzie-Childs brand amped way up, for example.
Also at the Morean: the CSA Program
Most of us have heard of CSA programs — Community Supported Agriculture in which you buy a share of a farmer's crop and get a weekly or monthly basket when harvests come in.
The Morean Arts Center is launching its own version with Community Supported Art Tampa Bay, a program that began in Minnesota.
You buy a $300 membership for the season, and you get nine limited edition pieces of art from nine area artists. Those artists will be chosen by a panel of prominent art and community leaders and announced in February. (Membership rises to $350 once the list of participating artists goes public.) In May you collect your new trove of art that has cost you about $33 each. Yes, each is part of a multiple edition, but it still sounds like a bargain. For information, call (727) 822-7872.