The sale at the Funky Junk house was an amazing success! Thank you to everyone who came, bought items, and shared in the fun with us that weekend. We plan to have more events like this in the future, so stay tuned to the Funky Junk blog!
The Funky Junk furnished house on 108 East Marshall Street, Ithaca, NY is full to the ceilings with all sorts of amazingly cool upcycled goods. And this Sunday it all goes on SALE. That's right, come by the house, starting at 8 am for the funkiest sale you'll ever attend.
Where: 108 East Marshall St, Ithaca.
When: 8 am until 4pm.
Why: The house we furnished for summer rental has been rented for the coming year- we've got to get our stuff out and into your hands!
How: We'll be taking check or cash. No wifi means no Credit cards. Sorry for any inconvenience.
In case you hadn't noticed, Funky Junk is a vibrant place. We like things and people who have a lot to say. One way we bring in more voices is by opening up space for local artists to show off and sell their art. We have 9 Ithaca Artists with beautiful work that we are aching to share. Over the next few seasons we will spotlight here each of our artists and give you a chance to get to know them. Then you can come by the store and check out their work in person.
I had a chance to ask Sam a few questions recently about his art and music. Read on, this kid's got a great voice, and a lot to say...
I've always been good at drawing and rendering, and like most people, doing something that I'm good at makes me happy, so I suppose a certain amount of it is playing the hand that you're dealt. Apart from that I think understanding really comes into play, I find it easiest to understand things if I can visualize them. I make art so I can interact with the world in a way that is sensible to me.
I tend to define art as a measure of quality- if you make a comic/movie/song/chair/dinner, and it touches someone, interests them, brings them joy or sadness, shows them something about themselves, or about you, or makes them consider something that they hadn't, then that's art.
How would you describe your art to someone looking at it for the first time?
I am a print maker, though currently without a print shop, which is a bit like saying you're a captain but not having a ship to point to. My focus is screen printing but I also work in collage, drawing, inking, and digitally. I spend a lot of time trying to bridge that digital/traditional gap, mostly because I don't believe it to be very gap-like at all. Print actually is in itself a great part of what think about when making art, I sincerely believe it to be the art of revolution, from Gutenberg's bible to a copy machine, it has this amazing potential to be available to everyone.
What's the best piece of advice you got in art school?
Don Weinhart, a computer lab tech in the expanded media department had a constant mantra of "try it, and if it breaks we'll fix it".
You're art has very vibrant colors, interesting contrasts, and often violent or sexual themes. What inspires you?
I suppose that my love of cartoons and comics accounts a bit for my bright colors, I really love the works of Roger Dean and Jean "Moebius" Giraud and I think I get a lot of my color palettes from them. And glam rock, David Bowie is a huge artistic influence on me in a strange way. I think as far as sexuality and violence goes, its always been something that are linked in our society. I remember watching Braveheart on TV when I was a kid and wondering why they censored all of the sex scenes but none of the people being disemboweled. I don't think that its wrong to show either, but I think that we really need to take a look in the mirror if violence is fine, but sex isn't.
What's your favorite spot in Ithaca?
I would have to say my favorite spot is the library. I'm really attracted to places that are chock full of people that all want to be more or less left alone. I realize saying that makes me sound a bit like I don't like talking to people, which isn't true. I just really like a place that will let anyone hang out, and wont give them a hard time about it if they want to be left alone.
Tell us a little more about the band. What is the style of music? Where can fans hear you play?
We are called Natural Wood and we are a folk comedy band in the tradition of The Smothers Brothers, Barenaked Ladies and Moxy Fruvous. It's comprised of myself on mandolin, harmonica and vocals, Ash Eastman on vocals and guitar and Trevor Larcheveque on vocals and bass. We currently have two studio albums available all over the Internet.
I do the album art and we did a silk screen run on recycled cardboard for this latest album cover, but the act of making and playing music really satisfies my need to be on a stage, which is something that I don't really get as much from printing. We are currently working out a practice schedule for upcoming shows, as I'm here in Ithaca and my other two band mates still live in Alfred. But you can listen to our music on Itunes, Myspace, Facebook, and Pandora. You can also get a copy of the new album at Funky Junk, which I would recommend because you can support two local things with one purchase.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I played a game of Dungeons and Dragons once where I had a compass that always pointed to the exit, which I always really wanted to have, as I have a monumentally bad sense of direction...But now I have an iPhone, which more or less does that. So how about the Green Lanterns ring? Its a bit of a cop out since its essentially a superhero Swiss army knife, but I think it would be a rad power for any artist to have.
What's your dream project?
My dream project would be an extension of a current project- "Making" It is a zine that I produce with Nick Alberti and Kari Aldrich, it's an art and writing zine that I would love keep creating on a much larger scale.
Sam's Artist Statement
We, as human beings, are becoming more dependent upontechnology as we evolve through it. We have created alocality that exists on an immaterial plane, where friendships can develop in spite of geographical and physical limitations, where faceless enemies wage war over minutiae, and where lovers can tear down barriers of distance and create a sense of closeness in a digital space. We create memetic gods out of civilians and destroy celebrity idols in the same breath. Anonymity gives us the power to step outside the bounds of structured society and create new personae that can speak freely without facing consequences. These newmanifestations also allow us to indulge in our most base desires. We use them to approach pornography without society’s permission, but the instant gratification it provides is not without it detriments. It gives us exactly what we want but leaves us vulnerable and aware of our inadequacies, reminding us that what we truly need is out of our grasp. We seek to lead double lives, one grounded in reality, the other open to our fantasies, but as we delve further into this digital landscape we find we are still bound by our own humanity.
Sam is a recent graduate of Alfred University Art School, in Alfred NY. If you run into him on the street you'll recognize him as "about 5'10'', I wear a red hat, glasses, and have outdated facial hair." Check out his website Milk in a Jar or his Tumblr page for more images of his work, and contact him directly at Sdmameli[at]gmail[dot]com.
Each season we feature an Artist with cool
and funky work we want to share with you both at the store and here on the
blog. Our endeavour is provide a thoughtful space to discuss all kinds of art,
and to promote local Artists. The opinions and expressions of those we
profile does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Funky Junk or the Authors
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, there was a man named Lee. He lived in a clock tower on planet Earth, in a small town in upstate NY. Lee was a writer and real estate developer, and living in a clock tower was the perfect atmosphere for creating an interesting artistic life. But it was also a bit lonely.
In his travels across Earth he met a Stormtrooper. A calm and aging old fellow, but nonetheless, still a foot soldier of the Empire's darkness. He was in perfect condition for all the action he'd seen, held great artistic form, and was even marked with a # 26 on his base. Lee purchased the Stormtrooper on auction, and brought him home to share a life in the clock tower. For a time they were happy together.
Then Lee met a woman and moved out of the clock tower. The two were married and it wasn't long before the couple moved to Florida. The Stormtrooper went as well, but he was growing to be just a relic of the past to cart around the planet. Lee's wife refused to let the Stormtrooper out of the basement, and after all that time in the clock tower, the dark basement held little appeal. Lee still appreciated the Stormtrooper and his artistic meaning, but he soon had children and responsibility, and little time to fight for Stormtrooper rights.
After several years, Lee and his wife left Florida and returned to upstate NY. Bringing the Stormtrooper along with them, in a box. However, things were not looking good for the Stormtrooper. On this trip, he was not well cared for. The fool who transported him broke his hand off, and injured his leg. And again, in NY, the Stormtrooper was relegated to the basement of Lee's house, never allowed to see daylight.
Enter David West. David came to simply install a chandelier in Lee's house. The two got to talking about installations and business and the economics of trade. After a little thought, Lee offered David the Stormtrooper as an installation for his funky store, in exchange for David's services fixing up the broken hand and leg. David, a fan of the films, though admittedly not a fanatic, was thrilled to save the Stormtrooper from a life of musty basements. Not to mention the fact that this was one of the most interesting items of funky junk one could come across. Putting this relic in the store would surely speak volumes to all local fans.
And so, in the front window of Funky Junk stands the Stormtrooper, day and night no longer in darkness, but rather, having come over to the light side for good. In fact, the Stormtrooper is open to finding a new home- he isavailable for trade. Lee, still the current owner, a local educator and artist, wishes to trade him. And trade big. Lee is interested in redeveloping the old Masonic Temple on Cayuga and Seneca Streets. He wants to hand over the Stormtrooper in exchange for this amazingly artistic old building.
The Masonic Temple has sat on that corner for years, empty and untended. Lee's vision? A space for art and art education, for bringing people together to create, and for recreating the building itself. It's the ultimate upcycling project. It has been vacant, in darkness, just like the ignored Stormtrooper, for too long.
So, what's the deal with that Stormtrooper? It's a reminder. It's a wish. It's an opportunity. Mostly though, it's a symbol. Of possibility- Of a new hope.
If an aging, broken down Stormtrooper can be saved from an eternity on the dark side and be offered a chance at a new life, then maybe, just maybe, all the other vacant shells and wacky old junk out there can be redeemed too.
Shopping is simple, right? You go to a store, you see something you want to purchase. You look at the little white tag affixed to the bottom, and, if the price is right you take the item to the smiling employee at the register and trade your hard earned money for the newest addition to your life.
It is simple that way, but at Funky Junk, we think there is yet another more simple way to sell reused goodies. We want YOU to tell us what it's worth to you! It's easy, really. Instead of everything in the store being tagged and priced, we've got a whole section of Price It Yourself items. Everything from cups to baskets, books to candle holders. All sorts of interesting stuff ready to be reused. For whatever amount of green you think it is worth. Even better, no offer is refused.
The only trick is this. We ask that you take a moment and think about what is a really good offer. We trust that people will use their best judgement, and not just try to get stuff for the cheapest amount they can. If it's worth 50cents, then give 50cents. But if it is something that makes you smile, something that will lighten up your day, or something that is just that perfect thing you have been looking for, how much is that worth? A dollar? Five? Give it a thought, and then let us know.
Like we said, no offer is refused- because we believe some things might have more value to one person than another. And we want YOU to be able to tell us that. The Price it Yourself section of the store is chock full and waiting for you to give it new life. It's really that simple.
We all need a little help sometimes. Getting that help from someone who wants to learn turns into a win-win all around. Thanks to the Joint Youth Commission Summer Program (JYC), via Cornell Cooperative Extension, Funky Junk has a new teen intern helping us out in the store.
Morgan not only has a keen eye for Stormtroopers, she's a wiz with a paint brush. Being that we use a lot of paint here at Funky Junk, this is good. For the rest of the summer, Morgan will be helping out around the store, chatting with you customers, and upcycling various projects.
Morgan, a 15 year old local homeschooled Ithacan, says about the store- "I love all the cool stuff in the shop. It's a great place to find a birthday gift for a friend." Coming from a teen, this is a powerful compliment.
The JYC program is open to teenagers 14 and up residing in the Town of Ithaca, who want the opportunity to work in the community to earn a few bucks. JYC links up local teens and local businesses and offers both support in getting stuff done!
And Morgan is getting stuff done already. Her first upcycling project was a simple paper towel holder. After a week at the store, she's given new life to a pile of goods.
Morgan says she is here "for the money and experience." Thanks to JYC she's getting both. Stop in and say hi to Morgan, and the rest of us. too We're glad she's here to help us out. We're also glad to be here to help her grow. Cuz sometimes, we all need a little help.
Imagine you're on vacation, a day's drive away from home, and searching through the local junk store/antique mall. You are looking for nothing in particular, maybe an old school metal sign, or a souvenir of your trip from a local artist. Wandering the store you don't find either of these things, but rather, the perfect thing. A short chair. An old wooden square with legs and a nasty looking fabric seat. Yet, it's the perfect size and shape to fit in that tiny space between your bed and the window where you like to sit and have coffee. But, it looks a bit raggedy and definitely has had a life of it's own before you came along. It needs a sanding down, has some kicks on one corner, and it certainly could use cleaning. But it's sturdy and solid, a piece from the good ole days, rather than the more recent flim flam furniture days. You decide it's worth the effort, buy the little chair and cart it home to rework it.
Whether you know it or not, you are upcycling-- Taking an item that is worn out and beat up, be it a piece of furniture, house materials, fabric, or any number of other materials, and reworking it to raise it's quality and value. When you revise and restore, you give a new life. You upcycle.
The term upcycling was coined back in 1994 by Reiner Pilz. Since then the idea has taken hold and even a few books have been written about it. Upcycling is creative process at it's best. When you've got a decent piece of material to begin with, the creativity can flow. Pick your colors, your style, your particular type of expression and throw it into something that needs a little love.
But it's not just about having fun. Upcycling saves materials from entering the landfill. It reduces the need for new raw materials to be produced- which helps minimize greenhouse emissions, energy usage, and pollution. Maybe upcycling can save the world.
Now imagine you are not on vacation. You're at home, wherever you live, and you've got a snappy, fun, local business selling you stuff that you can upcycle til your eyes turn blue. Stop on over there and find something to work with. I promise, you'll have fun searching for just the right piece, you'll save money on buying something old, AND you'll find out just how awesomely creative you are when you give that furniture the little bit of love it needs and the perfect spot in your home, right where it belongs.