Scavenger Art - Mark Orr - Artists and furniture art in Michigan, ravens, found objects, primitive sculpture
Architectural sculpture and furniture art using vintage and found objects from Mark Orr
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Mark Orr, Ann Arbor, Michigan, architectural sculpture, furniture art, ravens and crows, shutter tables, wooden art boxes

How It All Began...

Scavenger Art was more something that happened to me rather than something I ever planned to do. I had acquired from my sister one very old window complete with the exterior trim in the summer of 1998. She had just moved with her husband into his old family farmhouse and they were working to clear out one of the many barns. Her father-in-law had been a depression era farmer who never threw anything away, ever. Each washer, dryer, refrigerator, window and used tire was out there in one of those barns.

This vintage window was to become the frame for a painting I had in mind - the concept being that it would take the point of view that you were on the outside of a house looking in. Later that summer I picked up some old shutters at a garage sale thinking that hanging them next to the window would enhance the illusion. I stored the window and shutters in my garage where they waited for me to find the time to work on my painting.

One day as I pulled into my garage I had an epiphany.... if I took those shutters and turned them 90 degrees, they could become the sides to a stereo cabinet with the old window becoming the front door. I added the exterior trim for flavor and built a drawer out of an old door, some salvaged fence post tops became the legs. As the cabinet began to take shape in my garage, several of my artist friends became intrigued and very enthused. One thing lead to another and as more people came over to take a look - I was soon convinced that “I was on to something”. With the support and good advice of my friends and family plus a whole lot of very late nights, I created the body of work that became the basis for Scavenger Art. (meanwhile my own stereo cabinet had been relegated to the back corner of my garage)

I was also working on a full size carving of a raven at the time, so as a thank you gift to an especially helpful friend I placed it on the top of a vintage newel post I had also collected. The carved raven fit so well visually with the vintage post and also conceptually as the gatherer of my found objects, that the raven was soon incorporated into nearly every piece that I made.

I photographed my cabinets (fifteen years as a freelance photographer really came in handy) and began entering them in juried art fairs. The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair accepted me into their show held in July of 1999 -my first show, and I’ve never looked back.

The stereo cabinet that started it all was eventually finished about a year later as a commissioned piece for an Ann Arbor Doctor as a gift to his wife. I’ve built literally hundreds of cabinets since. My own stereo is of course, still sitting on my floor.