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Upcycle! Art Fest


upcycle_logoName:  Upcycle! Art Fest



Place:  The festival was held at the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. A barrier island located on the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida, Sanibel is known throughout the world as a premier beach destination, attracting millions of annual visitors from around the world. In addition to the festival, Sanibel Island offers excellent restaurants, accommodations, golfing, tennis, fishing, boating, shopping, bike paths, canoes, theatrical productions, the renowned J.N. “Ding Darling” National Wildlife Refuge & Bird Sanctuary and pristine sandy white beaches that provide some of the best shelling anywhere in Florida.

Description: In the spirit of “Ding” Darling, this event provided an artistic venue and marketplace to showcase fine art and crafts made from 60-75 percent recycled and re-purposed material. But Upcycle! Art Fest did not just entertain attendees. It educated the public on the importance of recycling in order to protect our wildlife and ecosystems by demonstrating how manufactured items that would normally end up in a landfill can be reformatted in a manner different from its original intended original use and “rescued” through creativity for art.

With this objective in mind, the festival featured:

  • 28 Artists & Art Sale. Twenty-eight jury-selected artists will display and sell their work, featuring repurposed and re-envisioned materials in the free “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida.
  • Silent Auction. During the two days of the Upcycle! Art Fest, there will be an unique silent auction of participating artists. All proceeds from this auction will benefit conservation efforts at the Refuge.
  • “Make &Take” Activities. For festival-goers of all ages, five different areas will be set up on site during both days of Upcycle! Art Fest. Here visitors can work with local artists to make something creative from trash to take home and enjoy. Everyone who participates will see trash in a different way and learn how devastating many throw-away items can be to our earth and wildlife.
  • Informational Area. In addition to viewing recycled art for sale throughout the festival, attendees can learn more about the importance of recycling and protecting our lands, waters, and wildlife for future generations. A number local conservation and art organizations will set up informational tables throughout the two days.

2014 Winners. Local sculptor Jonas Stirner took first place at last year’s Upcycle! Art Fest. Jay Lana was awarded second place, and recent FGCU art graduate Andrew Corke took third place.

Price: There is a $6 toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway bridge from Fort Myers. You can pay with cash, or with your Leeway or Sunpass transponder.

Parking: Free parking is available on site.

Organizer. The Upcycle! Art Fest is organized and produced by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, PO Box 565, Sanibel, FL 33957.

Telephone numbers: You may reach the organizers at 239-472-1100 (ext. 4) or 239-292-0566. However, the organizer prefers to be contacted by email at

Fast Facts.

  • 545964_446440315431222_1830716081_n“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society is a non-profit Friends of the Refuge organization that supports environmental education and services at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge complex. It depends on membership fees and private contributions and is grateful to those who help fund projects such as the Education Center, internships, interpretative signage, research, student education, and informational literature.
  • The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.
  • Jay Norwood Darling was born in Norwood Michigan, in 1876. He spent much of his youth in Sioux City, Iowa, when that Missouri River town was a gateway to unspoiled prairies. He attended college in Wisconsin and South Dakota. In 1906 Darling married Genevieve Pendleton. They had two children, John and Mary. An affable, dynamic, and talented man, Darling began his cartooning career in 1900 with the Sioux City Journal and retired fifty years later. After joining the Des Moines Register as a cartoonist in 1906, he began signing his cartoons with the nickname “Ding” – derived by combining the first initial of his last name with the last three letters. To learn about his life and accomplishments, please click here.

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