Art-making can be an expensive occupation but in the world of mixed media, I take my cap off to Jeff Meszaros. The Paul Kane grad has opened a new solution to free endless supplies.
The 29-year-old visual artist is gaining attention for his bottle cap art. His newest piece is a colossal effort that was recently installed at Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre. You could say that it all started out of an interest in recycling.
“I’ve been working on and off in the restaurant industry. I noticed all of these bottle caps being thrown out and they’re all different colours and unique styles. I figured something could be done with them,” he explained, adding that he’s a bit of a creative polymath. He has toured across the continent performing music and has acted in TV series and movies. Now there’s his new art through his enterprise called JAM Bottle Cap Art.
“I’ve done a bunch of different types of art. I’m just getting into mosaic work. I’ve dabbled in a little bit of everything. I’ve got a few others in my cap.”
Friends of his parents who would buy beer based on the colour of the caps so that they could then create images on coffee tables initially inspired him.
“They were showing me their designs and I thought, ‘I could definitely do this but way better.’”
Meszaros started with an interest to create “pop” art pieces of star musicians like Neil Young, Tom Petty and Keith Richards or Star Wars characters. He has completed more than 20 pieces in the last year alone but it first took approximately five years for him to master his process. That included obtaining a special machining tool that flattens the caps for him.
The art has been well received to say the least. He initially wanted to build up a collection that he could take to exhibit in a gallery. The only problem was that people just kept buying them. He has only kept his first piece, a portrait of John Lennon.
But now his fans can see his work on permanent display at the shopping mall. A few weeks ago, he unveiled his newest creation, a three-foot by 21-foot depiction of the Edmonton skyline, comprised of nearly 21,000 bottle caps. To answer the most obvious question, he said that most of the caps were donated.
“I don’t think I’d be alive if I drank all that beer! Maybe a couple of them,” he noted with a chuckle. “Mainly, I get the bottle caps from bars around town, even in St. Albert. There’s about a dozen bars that saved the caps for me. I had buckets that said ‘call Jeff when the bucket is full and he’ll come pick it up.’”
The image is a revised interpretation of the cityscape as it stands today but with a few future elements (including the new Walterdale bridge, Ice District, and the new downtown hockey arena) added in for good measure.
Collections aside, it took about 85 hours to complete the work that can now be found inside entrance No. 2 at the mall.
“It felt like a lot longer sometimes,” he laughed. “But it kind of whizzed by at the same time too.”
Jeff Meszaros originally estimated the Edmonton Skyline artwork to require 18,000 bottle caps. He ended up needing 20,743 caps. “It’s quite a few,” he said.<br />He estimated that 248,916 ounces of beer were consumed in the creation of the piece, but not all by him.<br />“I added up that if you were to buy every single one of those beers in a bar, it would cost just under $120,000. I definitely didn’t drink all of those!” he laughed.<br />Using the bottle caps diverted 126.2 pounds of garbage from the dump.<br />He relied on an estimated 50 to 60 different brands of beer for a suitable palette of colours. “The bottle caps are like my little pixels of paint,” he said.<br />The piece is three feet x 21 feet in dimension.<br />Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre is located at 82 Avenue and 83 Street in Edmonton.