Treasure in the Trash by Nelson Molina
July 27, 2012 10:20 AM   Subscribe

One man's trash is another man's treasure — we've all heard the old adage, but Nelson Molina, a longtime sanitation worker in Manhattan, takes the saying to an entirely new level: a self-curated, full-fledged art gallery — from other people's trash. The New York Times toured Mr. Molina's gallery recently, getting a rare peek into the collection that contains everything from a Masters of Business Administration diploma (from Harvard!) to a portrait of Winston Churchill. Via
posted by infini (11 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Frightening, frightening what a throwaway society we are.

Great post.
posted by Melismata at 10:31 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I do believe I see a Louvre here. A 1969 Pontiac Firebird hinged rear window Louvre. Leaning in the bottom right corner.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is what my apartment would look like if my partner was a sanitation worker. Dumpster diving is already a...let's say... negotiation around our place. We've allegedly limited it to his studio space, but the back porch and our dining room sometimes say otherwise.

Great find -- thanks (against my better judgment, I'm sending it to him too)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:41 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not that new of a level. The dump here in San Francisco has had an Artist in Residence program for years now. They also have a sculpture garden on site that exhibits some of the artists' past works.

Kohler (the sink and toilet people) have had an Arts/Industry Residency since 1974.

Still, this is pretty awesome, and there's something nice about it coming from a longtime sanitation worker instead of an affiliated artist.
posted by zachlipton at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2012

I love what this man is doing, of course, but I wish North Americans would make more of an effort not to put useful and/or attractive stuff in good condition in the garbage just because they just don't happen to want or need the item themselves.

I never throw anything that isn't outright garbage in the garbage. I ask around and give such items away to a friend or family member who wants them, or haul them to Value Village. In my neighbourhood it's tacitly understood that if you leave something out on the sidewalk, anyone can help himself or herself to it, so I will sometimes do that to save myself from having to lug something four blocks to the thrift store. It's usually gone in twenty minutes or less. I've gotten myself many a piece of furniture by taking items my neighbours have left sitting on their curbs, including a vanity table with a three-way mirror and matching chair that, when I stripped off its mustard yellow paint, turned out to be made in 1915 (there were date stamps on the back of the mirrors). I still kick myself for not having lugged home a certain antique dresser with lovely detailing when I came across it a few years ago. I also found this wooden chest that I reupholstered, and this chest of drawers that I spruced up with paint, new hardware, and a Mucha poster.
posted by orange swan at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

That's lovely, that he takes the time to find and curate that stuff.

Whenever I can't give away something nice or in good condition, I put it out on garbage night early, next to the cans and bags. There hasn't been one time that someone hasn't decided they wanted it. I've never had to use Freecycle or Craigslist free classifieds.
posted by xingcat at 11:16 AM on July 27, 2012

Somewhere, a person who thought they were finally free from the grip of the frog butler just stumbled upon an internet nightmare.
posted by orme at 1:29 PM on July 27, 2012

Cool link! Mr. Molina does seem to have a good eye for what's visually interesting. His museum isn't really folk art, I guess, but you almost could call it "folk curation." And so, it seems like the sort of thing that would be of interest to these guys.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:18 PM on July 27, 2012

Fuckin' brass knuckles!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:00 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is brilliant. I want to live in his museum.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 9:40 AM on July 28, 2012

A Scavenger's Map of New York City
posted by infini at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2012

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