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Trash to treasure 

Turning garbage into works of art

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After 27 years patrolling Bear Creek Canyon as a city park ranger, Caron O'Neil has developed an eye for artistic value, not just in craggy rocks and blue skies, but also in abandoned doll limbs.

"I am constantly looking for things," says O'Neil. "In other words, I dig through people's trash."

The Colorado native occasionally receives garbage from outside sources, other people who are familiar with her work and conscientious enough to send these "treasures" her way. This collaborative effort when collecting material reflects O'Neil's overall message to the public.

"We should all be working to enhance each other in a positive way," she says. "I try to create an expression of harmony and beauty that complements the whole, the way we all should be."

O'Neil's work has a lot in common with that of Matthew Crawford, the other featured artist in Commonwheel's upcoming Diamonds and Rust show. Although the two have never collaborated on a piece, Crawford also uses imperfect materials, such as rusted steel and unpolished gold, in some of his art. He fuses these otherwise-useless materials together to create small jewelry items, complete with display pedestals. Then Crawford details the pieces with diamonds.

Like O'Neil, Crawford gathers his materials from a variety of places.

"I've gone to a steel scrap yard with a five-gallon pickle bucket and scavenged the yard for steel pieces myself," he says.

Diamonds and Rust

Commonwheel Artists Co-op

102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs

Runs July 20 through Aug. 20; Opening reception, Friday, July 20, 5-8 p.m.

Call 685-1008 or visit commonwheel.com for more.

  • Turning garbage into works of art

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