It may have sounded to some like an April Fool's joke, but it was as real as a metal trash can: Yesterday the 20th anniversary of Philly's legendary "trash art" group The Dumpster Divers was marked with a group photo and an official Mayoral Tribute from Michael Nutter.
The celebration was held at the site of the first meeting, April 1, 1992, at the American Diner at 5th and Spring Garden. Silk City diner, which now resides at that location, was gracious enough to allow the Divers to use their premises as the site for their revelry.
The Dumpster Divers' motto is "one man's trash is another man's treasure," and the group has established a name for itself by creating art of trash, recycled materials and found objects, turning traditional notions of artistic beauty and worth on their head while generating some of the most eye-catching and original works of art and craft anywhere. (Disclosure: I was a member of the group from 1994 to 2008. I resigned membership upon launching Earth to Philly so I would be able to chronicle the group's exploits with the crystal-clear eye of objectivity required of all jounalist-bloggers.)
As many members of the group, some decked out in festive, coloful garb, assembled for an official 20th-anniversary photo, the original invitation to a meeting chartering the group was read aloud. In a historical footnote, the original name was to be The Dumpster Diners, as the concept was to meet at area diners to talk about trash-picking finds. But the crew quickly realized this created the impression they were eating out of dumpsters, which was far from the point: Their treasure is trash, not garbage, and Neil Benson, for one, has been at pains ever since to keep this distinction clear.