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Appliance art: Toasters transformed into masterpieces for There With Care fundraiser

'Toaster Project' art auction, held at Boulder Commons, will feature 10 transformed toasters by local, national and international artists

There With Care volunteer Marsha Beyer (pictured here), along with Susan Knickle, has organized “The Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide.” The unique show features reworked toasters from 10 artists. An auction will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6, at Boulder Commons, with all proceeds going to There With Care. (Kalene McCort/ For the Camera)
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Toasters inhabit most kitchens. Warming up waffles and slices of whole wheat bread, the appliances are seldom viewed as potential canvases from which great art can flourish. But, in There With Care’s “Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide” the appliances take on new territory — offering vibrant color and unexpected texture. Ten local, national and international artists have transformed and donated 10 red Black & Decker models that will be up for auction onThursday at Boulder Commons. Proceeds from the auction will go directly to the Boulder-based nonprofit that — since 2005 — has provided a wide-range of services and support to families of children facing a medical diagnosis.

Gail Folwell’s “Undocumented” is one of the pieces up for auction at There With Care’s “The Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide.” (There With Care/ Courtesy photo)

“It just takes my breath away,” said There With Care volunteer Marsha Beyer, who organized the project along with artist Susan Knickle. “It’s like everybody really came to the party. I had an idea of what I wanted it to be and it’s everything I wanted it to be.”

The pieces are vast and diverse, much like the talent that constructed them. Gail Folwell’s “Undocumented,” a powerful work inspired by the current immigration crisis, features bronze arms that stretch out from a toaster that has wheels on all four corners.

“We cut the cord so nobody thinks about it being in the kitchen,” Beyer said. “They just view it as this beautiful work of art.”

Gina Freschet’s  “Lenore Evermore,” designed to hang from the ceiling, is slightly Hitchcockian with its large dark feathered wings. A mythological interpretation of a raven flying toward the sun, this work is definitely a conversation starter.

Gina Freschet’s “Lenore Evermore” is one of the transformed toasters up for auction at Boulder Commons on Feb. 6. The piece is part of There With Care’s “The Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide.” (Kalene McCort/ For the Camera)

While many artists kept the toasters intact and added onto them, some chose to reinvent the product entirely.

“There were no guidelines,” Beyer said. “We felt like we should really reach out and try to broaden the net. The art world has opened their arms to this.”

In “Feminine Rising,” Marina Warren Nash created a sculptural interpretation using the toaster as a base of sorts — a platform from which to construct steps to support the curvy column-like structure.

“We wanted to enshrine, protect and embody the abstract, interpersonal nature of love and to do so in our own graphically powerful, minimal way,” said Todd Berger, of Boulder-based multidisciplinary art and design duo Berger & Föhr, who constructed a piece with business partner Lucian Föhr. “While we can all rally around the concept of love, it looks and feels a little different to everyone.”

While no real trace of a toaster can be found in Berger & Föhr’s intriguing piece, the very fact that it resides within — slightly deconstructed — speaks to the pair’s inventive and often unusual aesthetic.

“Our art is very much about playing with context, prompting introspection and questioning the idea of object as artifact,” Berger said. ‘Coveted 02 (We Have No Secrets)’ questions everything, turns the notion of coveted object and idea on its head and does so leaving the viewer feeling in an almost otherworldly way.”

“Coveted 02 (We Have No Secrets)” by Berger & Föhr is one of the pieces up for auction as part of There With Care’s “Toaster Project.” (Berger & Föhr/ Courtesy photo)

The experimental piece was crafted through a rather extensive process.

“After several materials tests, we disassembled our toaster and filled it with exterior filler adhesive to eliminate any internal voids,” Berger said. “We then designed and built a custom mold and cast the toaster within the mold throughout a series of 10, two-part resin pours. When the resin cast had cured, we disassembled the mold, removed the cast, and refined the piece via a series of phased rounds of sanding from coarse to fine, dry to wet. After sanding, we polished the work to the desired finish.”

Thursday’s evening includes live jazz music, jam-packed charcuterie boards from Sugar Pine Catering, wine and lots of art for one’s viewing pleasure.

“I look forward to seeing the people and the element of surprise,” Beyer said. “I don’t know what people think when we say we are having an auction on toasters.”

With 100 percent of the profits from the toasters will go directly to There with Care, 10 percent of sales from pieces in ART Squared’s adjoining show “Crossing Borders,” also at Boulder Commons, will be donated to the longtime nonprofit.

“With these artists, we gain a new audience,” Beyer said. “The ultimate goal is always to get more people to learn about what we do. When you’re doing something that changes people’s lives you realize how fortunate you are. Everything that comes out of the little office we have is just filled with such compassion.”

Marina Warren Nash’s “Feminine Rising” is one of the pieces up for auction as part of There With Care’s “The Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide.” (There With Care/ Courtesy photo)

With 500 volunteers — who do everything from meal drop-offs and providing transportation to and from hospitals — There With Care is consistently looking to add to its altruistic army. This year the organization anticipates helping 700 families. With additional offices in Denver and California’s Bay Area, the organization’s benevolent mission stretches far beyond the city it started in.

“It’s exciting that our community will come together through art, and the result will be sharing that love with families who are often so isolated,” said Paula DuPre Pesmen, executive director of There With Care.

Future fundraising efforts for 2020 include May’s “Chautauqua Porches,” where diners will enjoy a progressive dinner in four different historic cottages generously opened up by the families who own them. Also on the books is an eventual “Curated Closet” that will allow shoppers to peruse and purchase items from a wardrobe assembled from different fashion-forward locals.

But for now, it’s all about the domestic electronic that gives Pop-Tarts its gooey center and crisp outer crust.

“We’re fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to make an artistic contribution to such a unique and vitally important organization,” Berger said. “We live where we do because Boulder, Colorado, is a magical place. Organizations like There With Care play a big part in making that magic.”


If you go

What: There With Care’s “Toaster Project: Where Art & Love Collide”  art auction

When: 5 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Boulder Commons, 2490 Junction Place, Boulder

Cost: free

More info: therewithcare.org

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