Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

Canlove- no can left behind

At some point, I must have wondered what happens to all the empty spray cans abandoned on the side of train tracks and highways. It’s impossible that every can ever used to create graffiti art could be rescued from a life of slow decline into rust and ruin, but Canlove have come up with an ingenious way of re-purposing those empty vessels.

Canlove is a non profit recycling organisation that unites street artists in an effort to extend the life and use of the spray can. Founded by DJ Neff and Paul Ramirez in about 2010 to explore the recycling possibilities of an object that can be quite obnoxious when discarded by grafitti artists, Neff’s inspiration was to “..understand the can better than anything – to make it do everything. There are too many cans everywhere to not use them.”

The range of artistic projects that are achievable with empty cans is really quite amazing, as demonstrated by the exhibition in 941 Geary/White Walls, San Francisco. The show ran from 16th June- 28th July 2012 and consisted of multiple installation pieces, as well as framed artwork, all created from empty spray paint cans. The result is really quite spectacular, and I wish very much that I could have attended.

This particular exhibition was the first of it’s kind for the Canlove collaborative group, and the show stopper looks to have been the immense “Graffititree” which stood in the centre of the space. The graduation and intensity of the colours, something that is evident in a lot of the work exhibited, is quite beautiful. Who knew that the inside of a spray paint can could be so attractive?



Supporting the Graffititree in terms of scale and ingenuity is the Flower Cart, evidently an engineering feat, and displaying lovely bouquets of can flowers.

Flower Cart

Flower Cart (detail)

No exhibition based on graffiti is complete without graffiti art itself, and collaborative works were displayed alongside the impressive installations. The work itself is done on “canvas” made from.. recycled spray paint cans.

Canscape Collaboration with Mear One, spray paint on flattened spray paint cans.

Canscape Collaboration with Mear One, spray paint on flattened spray paint cans.

Hanging alongside graffiti art is some beautiful flattened can artwork, using the innate beauty and subtlety of the tones and colours to create lovely “Canscapes”.

Black & White #4Spray Paint on Flattened Recycled Spray Paint Cans, 70x45

Black & White #4 S, spray Paint on Flattened Recycled Spray Paint Cans, 70×45″

300 Series (100 #2)Spray Paint on 100 Recycled Metal Spray Paint Cans, Wood Frame50x70

300 Series (100 #2) Spray Paint on 100 Recycled Metal Spray Paint Cans, Wood Frame 50×70″

Mucho Amor 3Spray Paint on Recycled Spray Paint Cans, Wood Frame32x30

Mucho Amor 3
Spray Paint on Recycled Spray Paint Cans, Wood Frame

For more information and images from this exhibition, please click here.

For more information on Canlove, to get involved or view their projects, you can view their website, Canlove.


5 comments on “Canlove- no can left behind

  1. the organic artist
    December 2, 2012

    I always wondered where old cans went to die…myself? I use a Paasche H1 airbrush instead9 I’m an ol’ airbrush teacher)
    …….thanks for that post, just beautiful…Deb

  2. jacscottstudio
    December 26, 2012

    Delighted to see old cans used in inspiring ways – thanks. I use found discarded objects in my sculpture, including old rusty cans – it would be interesting to have your view on my work. Please check out

    • prettypinwork
      January 6, 2013

      Nice work! I like the depth you go into with the metaphors in your art, it gives a very close look at your own critical thinking on the subject you’re tackling. Keep it up!

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2012 by in Art, Curatorial Practice, Graffiti art, Recycled Art, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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