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Holiday installation at Glendale mini-park turns trash into art

This year’s holiday art installation at Adams Square Mini Park will inspire visitors to start talking trash as artist Cathy Hrenda’s piece repurposes the neighborhood’s garbage to deliver a message of unity.

Hrenda, an Adams Hill resident and events coordinator for the mini-park, has had a hand in the previous two holiday installations, having cut out miniature homes from recycled cardboard for “Our Starry Night” in 2015 and constructed the giant “peace” letters for “Peace on Earth” last year.

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The new exhibit, titled “We’re All in this Together,” is Hrenda’s own original work and on display in the historic gas station-turned-art gallery in the mini-park.

Assembled on Saturday with help from her husband, Stephen Meek, the installation’s many parts are built from errant trash collected on the streets of Glendale.

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Hrenda, an admitted lover of walks, said she began tossing away garbage found on the street during her daily strolls until she thought perhaps the found objects could be more than just waste.

“I started to become inspired by trash,” Hrenda said. “As I saw more and more different shapes and colors, I thought I could do something with it. So it kind of evolved out of walking and seeing trash and wanting the neighborhood to look nicer.”

The installation’s centerpiece is a 6-foot sea serpent covered by a mix of bottle caps and various plastic trash bits.

The creature is joined by a “man” rowing in a small bath tub fashioned to look like a rowboat. He’s towing a patio umbrella frame decorated with recyclable ornaments.

“The title comes from the man sitting in a boat and my friend’s quip that ‘we’re all in the same boat,’” Hrenda said. “And, of course, the holidays are a time of togetherness … This is a community art project and is something that brings us together and something we can do for ourselves to make our community better.”

Since 2015, the holiday installations have been a staple at the mini-park, and they are organized by the Adams Hill Neighborhood Assn., with help from the city of Glendale’s Library, Arts and Culture Department.

Per tradition, the installations are designed with a component that invites community involvement.

This year, residents in the Adams Hill neighborhood were able to craft ornaments, mostly made from plastic bottles, to place in a “tree” in the exhibit.

Students from John Muir Elementary School also painted cardboard fish that can bee seen “swimming” around the boat.

“The installation is also about taking care of our environment and the Earth," Hrenda said. “It’s up to us [because] mom’s not always going to come and pick it up behind you.”

“We’re All in the Same Boat” is on view through Jan. 13 in the Adams Square Mini Park, 1020 E. Palmer Ave., Glendale.

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