May 202014
 

By Sarah Amador

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For a free and fun outing this weekend, head to Sebastopol to visit the junk sculptures of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent. Made out of scrap or recyclable waste, these cartoon-like creations are sure to put a smile on your face. Rocket ships, monsters, mermaids, fishermen and pirates will spark your environmentally conscious imagination as you look closer to see what they’re made of.
It’s hard not to laugh when you realize a caterpillar’s feet are made out of forks or that the nose of a girl is really a wrench. Pots are repurposed as hats, clocks become eyes.
“People think it’s funny to see pots and pans put together,” Amiot said about their creations.
In a few months, something new and unusual will be squatting in the streets of Sebastopol—a 10 foot tall junk sculpture of an orange tabby cat saying, “Slow down!” Amiot was commissioned by the Sebastopol Police Department to create the cat. It’s trailable, so it can be moved to different locations. It will be lit up at night.
For Amiot, it’s all about recycling. He tries to recycle as much as he can.
“I started to be peeved that I couldn’t use materials that were there,” Amiot said.
He felt so strongly about this that he made the switch in 2011, letting go of the clay and bronze materials he worked with. From that point on, he only worked with reusable existing materials, such as steel and found objects, scrap and other recyclable waste.
“The most important part is that I felt most comfortable reusing materials,” Amiot said, “instead of using new materials. And I still feel that way.”
The husband and wife team describe themselves as urban folk artists, using bright bold colors and highly decorative design. Patrick sculpts; Brigitte paints. The artists use the beauty of their surroundings as inspiration—the colors, countryside and people of Sonoma County.
One of his latest projects was making a carousel out of recycled materials. Those riding on the carousel can choose to sit on a crab, a moon, a phone, a chicken, a bumblebee or a fish, to name just a few. Plus, the carousel is solar powered! Talk about reusing, reducing and reinventing! This carousel is currently being prepared to be moved to Markham, a city near Toronto.
Amiot says he finds his materials everywhere, sometimes from people that drop it, from scrappers or in the collections of Recycletown at Sonoma County’s landfill. (At Recycletown, you can see their caveman sculpture.)
It’s easy to view these sculptures. You can get a map by visiting http://patrickamiot.com/visit.html and downloading the Sculpture Tour WebApp optimized for smartphones.
In Sebastopol, you’ve probably seen the ambulance sculpture at Palm Drive Hospital or the tiger mascot at Analy High School. On Main Street, a sculpture of a bicyclist reminds residents to choose eco-friendly modes of travel. Dotting Highway 12 is the Big Bad Wolf Train, the Jersey Cow and Maureen the Dog.
If you drive down Florence Avenue, you’ll see at least 20 sculptures, one in almost in every front yard. There’s Grateful Bird, Legend of Kootney Joe, Darlene the Waitress, Babe Ruth, Batman, a rat riding a hot rod, and a truck with a cow in the flatbed.
More and more people are making a difference for our planet as they practice the 3R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle). But have you heard about the 5 R’s? That’s reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (compost) and reinvent. The reinvent part is making art out of waste. For example, students at the school I teach at, Monte Rio Union, recently created a sculpture called “Bunny Rubble.” It’s made of marine debris collected from the Russian River Estuary and from the beaches of Sonoma Coast. The bunny is on a revolving display at the Jenner Visitor Center.
For more information about Amiot and Laurent, visit http://www.patrickamiot.com or call  Big Times Art Studio at (707) 824-9388.