One Man's Trash Is Another Man's ... Artwork?

Dec 6, 2013

Artist Paul Vor138 had his pick of a few yellow trash bins where he worked near 26th Street in Wynwood. He didn't know where the bins had come from, but said it made cleaning up after himself much easier.
Credit Rachel Morello / WLRN

There’s no question that Art Basel brings plenty of people -- and their stuff -- to Wynwood. The question is: How do you keep the area clean?

Leticia Pollock is co-owner of Panther Coffee in Wynwood. She says Basel is her busiest week of the year, so she has to have more people on staff to help keep the place running smoothly – and looking tidy. But this year, Pollock noticed something else helping out: plastic yellow trash cans next to the street in front of her property.

“It’s a new thing, I don’t think it was here last year,” Pollock says. “It’s a great initiative, I don’t really know who did it, but it was a fantastic idea.”

And she isn’t the only one benefiting. Artist Paul Vor138 was happy to have the bins when he was finishing a mural Wednesday morning.

“I just showed up to this wall to paint it, and before I even began there was these trash bins out here,” he says. “It definitely makes it easier for us to clean up after ourselves. I think the streets would be cleaner if more businesses did this. It makes a lot of sense."

Bright yellow bins graced almost every corner of Northwest Second Avenue, and many of the streets nearby. But many, including local Sandro Abate had to wonder: was this meant to be simply trash collection, or was it art?

“I mean, it could be an art project. You never know,” Abate says. “It could be actual garbage or some artist just had some crazy idea. You never know. Their art is everywhere.”

City of Miami workers speculate the bins could have been brought in by the Department of Solid Waste as extra aid for the upcoming week. Locals say they’ve noticed more garbage strewn on the sidewalks lately, and this could be the city’s quick fix.

Perhaps it was public service. Maybe it was the act of a Good Samaritan, or maybe it really was a new installation. Whatever the case, people are noticing.  It just goes to show that almost anything can be seen as art – even garbage.