Gears, Pipe, Space Debris: Kim Piazza’s Garbage Art


The most important thing to know about artist Kim Piazza is that she is serious as all-get-out about garbage. Tires, aluminum, pipes, any kind of waste that is a byproduct of the human impact on the planet, can creep its way into her eye-popping, zany, oil-on-panel paintings and mixed-media creations. Her works draw on the sights and sounds of her youth along the industrial shores of the Great Lakes.


Kim and her partner, artist and musician Mark Perko, transplanted to the Trinity wilderness in 2005 after a few years of post-911 soul searching about their passions and purpose. This, combined with continued frustrations of living in urban Oakland and Alameda, contributed to their northern migration.


Their decision to relocate to Jefferson State — sped up by witnessing a drive-by shooting — was solidified by the kindness they experienced from strangers when their car broke down in Redding in transit to backpacking excursions to Trinity. “People here were so nice to us,” she beams.


Mark, a former technical specialist with the Oakland Museum, satisfies his passions for art and music in a former garage and cabin, turned shop and music studio. Those are just two of the five incredible, rustic buildings on their 200-acre homestead.


Kim’s studio, a former gunsmith shop, is surprisingly tidy for a self-described pack rat who often returns home to find salvageable supplies for her work on her doorstep. “People are always bringing me things,” she exclaims, as she thumbs through a binder of photos of landfills, the inspiration for her junk abstractions.


Garbage “is something that everyone can do something about,” she said, and Kim practices what she preaches. She is co-founder of Trinity County’s Rural Creative Reuse Project, an organization that will promote the reuse of materials that fill up Trinity County’s dumps.


And because she believes that it’s never too soon for some reuse education, Kim will guide Trinity’s summer camp participants to the garbage transfer station for a hands-on lesson in reuse. Her “fun-ducation” about conservation and recycling will augment a real-life explanation about how far our garbage travels. Currently, 80,000 pounds of Trinity’s garbage travel twice daily to landfills in Anderson.


Although trash is Kim’s focus, she confesses, “I riff on a lot of different sources.” The collections in her studio: metal rendering spoons, trinkets from her travels, an eclectic music selection, archeology text and fur shed from one of her property’s resident bears, are the proof. She draws on each object’s energies to inspire recent natural-mystical-human-mechanical works like “Goddess Powered Tire Energy Generating System” and “Geo-Me-O-My-O.”


So, don’t be alarmed if you are at North State Recycling and spy a bright-eyed, salt-and-pepper Italian fireball roaming through piles of rubble with a camera. It’s probably Kim getting shots of our waste to inspire her next collection of technicolor industry-scapes.

Visit Kim this weekend during 2nd Saturday ArtHop and let one of her fantastical solutions for our mountains of used tires inspire you.

See Kim’s work through July at the gallery upstairs in Carnegie’s, 1600 Oregon Street, Redding. Meet Kim at a reception for the artist during 2nd Saturday ArtHop, Sat. July 10, 6 to 9 p.m. Click here for the ArtHop maps and information.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to

is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Troy Hawkins says:

    Kims work is geniune and original. Truly inspirational work. Make sure you get over to Carnegie's to see her work and meet this fantasic lady. Try one of Julie's (owner of Carnegie's) pizza's.

  2. Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

    I'm looking forward to seeing Kim's art up close. I love the whimsy and imagination involved. Fun and green at the same time – how cool is that?

  3. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Wonderful article Adam. I can't wait to see Kim's work.

  4. Avatar Susan Holthaus says:

    You forgot to mention what a happy, bubbly, friendly and warm person our Kimberly is. You all will love her. We up here in trinity sure do.