Trash to treasure: Wichita man dumpster dives for art


A Wichita man has created a one of a kind art display made of trinkets and trash.

“I started putting it out. People liked it, so I kept putting it out,” said Gary Pendergrass.

Pendergrass, 73, is a retired home remodeler. He now spends his days and some nights collecting and creating. 

“That’s what I didn’t want to do was to grab a shake and watch TV all day, so I started doing something and piddling around and pretty soon I was doing a little bit of this and it worked and this is what happened,” he explained.

What happened?

In less than six years, Pendergrass has created more than 100 pieces of art. His works range from a statue of Abe Lincoln, a railroad engine, a human cannonball machine, a dragon situated on a garage roof and a Styrofoam Statue of Liberty.

Each piece is made of junk or trinkets Pendergrass has managed to find.

“These are table lamps that I bought in Park City, I believe, in a garage sale. This is an old muffler for a motorcycle. This is a filler for a toilet,” Pendergrass said. “It’s amazing what people throw away. My neighbor is a trash hauler and I get to raid his truck. You can see right across there. I’ve already been in it today.”

A majority of the pieces are on display outside Pendergrass’s home near 17th Street N and West Street.

While KSN was interviewing Pendergrass for this story, numerous people stopped to take in the sights.

“It’s like a year round holiday light display,” said Leslie McCurry. “I always see something new, so it’s really fun to have in the neighborhood.”

“I have had people tell me it makes their day or makes their week or makes their month,” Pendergrass said. “I had one guy that wrote and said he parks out here every day after work and sits here for 10 minutes just to renew his mind to get ready to go home.”

Pendergrass said he’s grateful his neighbors and so many strangers have welcomed his work. The dad and grandpa said he has no plans of slowing down.

“It gives me something to enjoy getting up for in the morning,” he said.

The art work is on display all year round, but it does get spooky around Halloween. Pendergrass invites all to visit.

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