CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What could be more boring than a humble trash barrel, unless you dress it up?
That's what Naomi Bays figured when she chose artistic sidewalk trash receptacles -- or refuse containers, as she prefers to call them -- as one of FestivALL's public-art projects.
That's what attracted Gary Lehman, a Chicago artist and landscape architect, to the project.
"Mostly [trash receptacles] are, today, a very typical entity in the public realm," Lehman said in a phone interview from his office at G Studio. "I like changing normal elements into art.
"We're in a world of pre-fabrication. The environment looks the same wherever you go.
"As a landscape architect, we usually go through catalogs" to choose street furniture like benches, lamps and, yes, trash containers, he said. "It's the same thing in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago."
Lehman's résumé lists dozens of projects -- landscape architecture and fine art -- mostly in the greater Chicago area.
"I'm a public artist and a landscape architect," he said. "I do both ends. I have a degree in landscape architecture."
He's in his fourth year running his own studio after nearly nine years of working with others.
"The reason I went on my own was to do more public art," he said. "I've done fine art for a long time -- painting and sculpture."
For the Charleston project, artists were asked to design the outside of a simple steel cylinder -- 2 feet tall, 16 inches in diameter. The receptacles will stand 11 inches off the ground on steel poles.
For inspiration for his first-ever West Virginia project, Lehman turned to the Internet.
"I start out using Google images. I pick out a city and pick out different images -- Flickr is another [site] -- and look at pictures people take all the time," he said.