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‘Reverse Litter’ contest winners make art from trash

Posted 5:41pm on Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013

The day Anita Katz Real’s second daughter was born in June, she got another bit of good news: Her sculpture Cowtown GarbageBoy earned her the $1,000 grand prize in the Tarrant Regional Water District’s “Reverse Litter” art contest.

We’ve heard of making art from trash before, but this contest took it literally: Contestants’ entries had to be made from at least 75 percent trash or recyclable materials.

Real, her husband Carlos, and their children scoured their Scenic Bluff neighborhood a little bit northeast of downtown Fort Worth to find the materials for Cowtown GarbageBoy, a 6-foot-6 sculpture made from such items as soda cans, convenience-store drink cups, juice cartons, fast-food wrappers and empty pill bottles.

“Our neighborhood really needed -- and it still needs -- cleaning,” Anita Real says. “We’re kind of new to the area, and we wanted to do this for our neighborhood.”

Although the Reals used some items from their house, the bulk of Cowtown GarbageBoy came from the streets. Anita was nearly nine months pregnant when they did the collecting. To avoid the summer heat, they collected

“We just picked up garbage from the area,” she says. “We’d just walk around and pick up straight raw garbage from the street. My husband wanted it to be authentic street garbage.” So authentic, she says, that they didn’t wash or rinse any of the street garbage used in the art, although they did clean up the home items.

Entrants in the contest -- presented by the TRWD and partner cities Arlington, Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and Mansfield -- had to sign a pledge to participate in the Reverse Litter Ten on Tuesday program, which promotes picking up at least 10 pieces of litter each Tuesday, and post a photo of their art to the Reverse Litter Facebook page, where fans could vote to choose four finalists.

The Reals, who moved to Fort Worth last year from Westchester County, N.Y., had participated in this year’s Cowtown Cleanup when they found out about the contest and the Ten on Tuesday pledge. Anita Real, who says she has no artistic background, had originally planned to make something small, but he said, “Let’s go big -- this is Texas, everything’s bigger here!”

Anita Real says that doing something like this is relatively new to the family, but they’re trying to be more active in the community. “Fort Worth has so much to offer, and there’s so much to do, and it was relatively easy to enter this contest and to win,” she says. “I think anybody could do it.”

The other finalists were Vanessa Brown for The “Grate” Owl, Alison O’Meara for Daphne, and the Westcreek Elementary School Fifth Grade Class for Water Bottle Chihuly, inspired by the glass art of Dale Chihuly.

The winning works of art will be on display this summer in venues throughout the DFW metroplex. For information on viewing dates and locations, visit Reverse Litter on Facebook.

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