by Judy Greenwald
MONTPELIER — Spring has Sprung, at least in front of Beverage Barn on Main Street in Montpelier (last year). The entrepreneurial artist of this floral installation is Gene Leon, the king of upcycling.
Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
These particular lawn ornaments are made from 100 percent salvaged old vinyl records sculptured to resemble real flowers.
Eugenio “Gene” Leon is a native of Miami, Fla. born of Cuban parents and has lived in Vermont for 13 years. He specializes in new and experimental creations linking ideas, colors, spaces, expression and form utilizing recycled materials.
This jack of all trades is very well known for his unique outdoor furniture, benches, bars and Adirondack chairs recreated Afrom recycled skis. He recently received an order from CBS Television for the Adirondack chairs which will be featured in a new series.
The list of his repurposed materials made into upcycled art is unending:
- Old shutters are converted into end tables
- Planters and bowls are made from vintage records that are not playable or saleable any more
- 60s and 70s rock and folk music record album covers are newly created as notebooks that come with matching bookmarks
- ski tips from damaged skis are turned into incense holders
- Discarded objects like tapes, Dixie cups and metal scraps are converted into beautiful mixed media three dimensional works of art for which he has won many awards
Between all his art projects and restorations he maintains a website that features antiquities and vintage items for sale. He also writes and plays music, has many gigs as a DJ., is a certified bartender for hire and even co-owned a Cuban restaurant in Shelburne.
This gifted and creative artist lives by several mottos:
Create, Innovate, Inspire, Aspire
Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle
No expectations, no disappointments.
“My gift of being highly creative is also a burden as I am constantly buried in simultaneous projects.” said Gene.