Artist Karen Capps gives back to the community

By Laura Johnson

It’s hard to drive down Evelyn Avenue in the daylight without noticing Karen Capps’ orange bungalow. The first thing that pops into your mind when you see the wine bottle statues, ceramic sculptures, and broken electronics scattered amongst the neatly organized chaos that is her landscaping is that an artist lives in that house.  When you enter her house, it’s even more evident that this collage artist has been acquiring materials from under bridges and bar stools for a long time.
Capps is one of many artists that will be participating in CYCA’s Art for Art’s Sake Auction, as well as the artist featured on this year’s Art Auction Poster. The money raised by the auction is kept in the community to maintain the Trestle Art over Cooper Street. Artists generously donate works to be auctioned, with 100% of the profits going towards our neighborhood’s most distinguishing piece of artwork. Capps says that it is a great way for artists to meet each other and one of the best ways she feels that she can give back to the community.
Karen Capps was in the corporate environment for ten years before realizing her true calling: taking junk and making it beautiful. Capps takes your average trash material (bottle caps, broken glass, cigarette lighters, computer parts…you get the idea) and uses heavy duty glue to mount these odd shaped pieces onto wooden canvasses. She starts her pieces by painting the background so that she can get a better idea of where to place the 3-dimensional pieces. Her work has a distinctive sense of Memphis pride; from the bar-b-que pigs adorned with their signature fork, to the catfish with nails as its barbels. There is a definite juxtaposition of new and old in her work.
Some of her past commissions have been of houses in the Cooper-Young area. One such commission gave her a broken plate from their parent’s wedding to use in the piece. Capps broke the plate further and used it as the border to the house. The customer was very touched to have the otherwise unusable relic put to great use, saying that, “its fun to include your own junk, there’s something more satisfying about it.”
Not only is Capps creating beautiful works of art, but she is cleaning up much of the broken glass and bottle caps in the surrounding area, and she is graciously willing to accept donations from your junk drawers.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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