Mark Olivier, a self-taught artist from Berkeley, California, scours the beaches of East Bay looking for washed-up junk, which he then turns into beautiful sculptures.
For seven years, Olivier has gathered all kinds of trash from various East Bay beaches, but instead of throwing it all away, he decided to create one-of-a-kind artworks to display on his lawn. It all began one morning, when he was walking his dog Zsa Zsa at an old coastal landfill known as Albany Bulb. He was looking at all the huge amounts of trash on the beach and asking himself “why doesn’t someone clean this stuff up?’, when it suddenly hit him – why doesn’t he clean it up? he started out small, with just a few cigarette lighters and some pieces of plastic, but before long he had amassed an impressive collection of useless junk.
Although he has no training in art, and has spent most of his life working as a waiter, herbalist and now as a carpenter, Mark Olivier has found ingenious ways of turning detritus into something beautiful that’s stopping passers-by in their tracks. Some of his neighbors agreed to host his creations on their lawns when there was no more space for them on his, and say this work enhances the street. So far, Olivier has used umbrella handles, hats, worn-out shoes, lighters to create samurai, Buddha statues, Greek gods, and a whole lot of other interesting sculptures that have brought him local fame. His latest creation, a 5-foot-high blue poodle made from crabbing rope is the newest attraction on the self-taught artist’s lawn, but anyone can have it for $5,500. He has sold some of his older artworks, including one for $1,500.
You probably think Mark’s hardest day of the year is the one after Coastal Cleanup Day, when hundreds of volunteers go on a cleaning spree of the beaches, leaving nothing for our trash artist, but you’d be wrong. Mark says “”Frankly, there’s just as much trash out there the next day. Trust me, there’s enough trash for everyone”.