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Artists reunite with buckets at reception
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Yuma resident Ester Krueger was walking her dog at Smucker Park when she spotted a bucket painted gray with pink and black designs.
“It stood out so I got closer and saw an envelope that said, ‘Read me!'”
Inside she found two framed ink and watercolor drawings and an invitation to a reception at the Yuma Art Center where she could meet the maker of her art piece as well as view the other works of art.
On Wednesday Krueger, along with her two kids, returned the bucket to the Yuma Art Center.
“I thought it was neat. It's really cool,” her son William, 9, said.
Project organizer Isaac Russell and Lia Littlewood “hid” 46 buckets all around town early Sunday morning “to parallel the appearance of Easter eggs all over the backyard of our childhoods,” he said.
For the secret project, dubbed Buckets of Artists, they reached out to 50 artists, inviting them to participate. The artists were asked to turn a plain five-gallon bucket into a work of art. Forty-six artists turned in their buckets.
The buckets represent the idea that Yuma is “overflowing with artists,” Russell said.
On Sunday morning, “it took us from 2:30 a.m. to sunrise to get them all out. By 8:30 a.m., they all had been taken,” Russell said.
He soon started getting calls from people excited to have found buckets. “I got lots of calls. ‘I found a bucket, oh my God!' It's cool.”
At the reception, the buckets started to trickle in, with 26 making it to the show and another five arriveing at the end of the evening.
Guests walked around, examining them. Some artists cut the buckets and used them in unexpected ways, such as Mary Ward. She cut out parts of the container and stitched in designs. Inside the envelope she introduced herself and explained that the piece was an “extension of my puzzle series.”
Artist Katie Wendt, 21, also went with a something totally different. She used the bucket but totally reconstructed it, cutting it into panels and creating a wall hanging with paisley designs, glass stones and pink tissue paper.
“It took me forever to figure out what I wanted to do. I decided to ditch the whole bucket thing and start with something completely different,” she said.
She enjoyed participating in the project. “When I heard about it, I thought, ‘Great, what a really cool idea.'”
She's also impressed by how project organizers “reached out to so many artists who would never get the opportunity to do something so completely off the wall.”
Wendt, who is an instructor for the Yuma Parks and Recreation Department, said she “definitely” wants to do it again next year.
When interviewed, artist Ann Walker had not yet been reunited with her bucket. “You throw your art out there into the world, hoping it found a home. I was hoping to see it tonight,” she said.
Walker described her piece as a collage of “paper and paint, all layered, with cattails made of matches run through the washer.” She added “an egret, a bunch of grass and the East Wetlands panorama all around it.”
“I just hope it didn't end up in the dumpster,” Walker said.
Artist Larry Yanez did get to reunite with his creation, which he titled “Tis a Shame.” He said the title refers to the uncertain road an artist takes when he works on a piece.
“You don't how it will end up. You see it in your mind but you don't know how it will happen,” he said.
Yanez painted his bucket black and stuffed it with twigs, hanging skulls and a board with a graffiti-like painting. He included a poem.
Jeremy Suerken, 29, was one of the privileged who stumbled onto a bucket. He saw one by the side of the road, in front of the Hilton Garden Inn, on his way to work. For this piece, the artist used only the bottom part of the bucket to create an Easter basket.
“It looked out of place,”Suerken said.
But he left it in place. Two hours later he drove by again and the bucket was still there. That's when he pulled over.
“I was very curious. It looked out of place,” he said.
When he read about the project, he thought it was a “really neat idea.”
“I never found a bucket by the side of the road inviting me to an art show,” Suerken said.
That was the idea: to expose “random” people who might otherwise never be exposed to Yuma's “culturally rich life.”
“We're bringing art into their lives,” Russell said.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856.