John Viveiros loves to collect sea glass. And while combing Tiverton-area beaches has been a rewarding hobby for him over the years, it turns out the weathered, colorful material is great for making …
John Viveiros loves to collect sea glass. And while combing Tiverton-area beaches has been a rewarding hobby for him over the years, it turns out the weathered, colorful material is great for making Christmas trees too.
Viveiros, of Tiverton, won Best of Show in Tiverton's annual "re-Tree" contest Friday night at the Four Corners Art Center, with his hand-crafted “Sea-Sons Greetings,” made entirely of sea glass collected locally. In a twist of irony, his winning tree was composed of material that should have been recycled, but was instead discarded in the river.
“All of the glass in my tree came from the Sakonnet River and Tiverton beaches,” said Viveiros, who has gone glass picking as a hobby for the past six to 10 years.
“When the steamships came from the Fall River pier, that’s where they dumped all the debris. There’s a certain area that’s super hot for it; I could go and pick five pounds of glass in one sitting. I strand them together in the wintertime, and it takes about 20 minutes per strand to make.”
The yearly showcase of Christmas trees comprised of only recycled and repurposed materials is now in its ninth year. Held in collaboration with Holiday Bright Night, a collection of merchants in the Four Corners district who stay open later to accommodate shoppers with special offers and festive decor, Friday evening's holiday celebration drew scores from across Tiverton and beyond.
Carmen Grinkis, of Tiverton, has won the contest four times, and came in second place this year.
“This has really been a creative outlet for me,” said Grinkis. “I love this village and it’s really important to participate, but I love to challenge myself. I’m a very nostalgic type of person, and that’s what I wanted to show here.”
Grinkis used components and materials from her previous trees to create a sensory experience involving lights, music and a spinning tree made from umbrellas and an inverted ceiling fan. After working on the project for four months, she was delighted to see how her piece brought joy to the people who approached it.
“I picked themes related to the world, to peace, to connectivity, and every piece of my tree came from Savers or my garage,” said Grinkis. She used colorful Pez characters to represent diversity, naming her piece ‘One World, Many Colors.’
“We’re all spinning around this world together, and I want to bring people together. I think music has a common theme that connects us, and I added Slinkies, Yo-yos and badminton birdies that I would hit around the yard with my father, so it reminds me of that.”
The exhibit will be on display through Friday, Dec. 16. Members of the community are welcome to cast their votes for their favorite tree by stopping at the voting boxes at the Cheese Wheel, Tiffany Peay Jewelry, or Courtyards.
“This is a celebration of creativity, and we’re hoping that every year, this just gets bigger and that we can have more trees lit up all along this strip,” said Desiree Brunton, an artist and representative from the art center. “The more participation we have, the more fun the event is going to be, and we’re trying to make it something that people look forward to around the holidays.”
Visitors from surrounding towns and areas made the trek to see the exhibit on opening night, with families having the opportunity to see Santa and Mrs. Claus, in addition to enjoying free refreshments and samples at the Cheese Wheel Village Market.
“It’s really clever and it’s interesting,” said Kathy Langford, who traveled with her friends from Fairhaven, Dartmouth, and Matapoisett to see the exhibit. “We really like the area, we come out to Little Compton and Tiverton often and we thought it would be fun to just roam around tonight.”
Anna Beatty and her six-year-old son Charlie, from Newport, also spent the evening walking the grounds.
“There’s so much beauty and art this time of year and I really enjoy seeing out-of-the-box ideas so I’d definitely make something like this a tradition for us,” Beatty remarked. “Lots of these items just go to waste or are lying around and to see them being reused is a good message in conservation and consumption for the environment.”