By Pamela Dozois

The Wildling Museum announces the museum’s first public art initiative, “Nature Takes the Wheel: A Public Art Project with Upcycled Hubcaps”.

The project is funded by a $3,000 grant from the newly formed City of Buellton Arts and Culture Committee and headed by art therapist Stacey Thompson. Artists Kiana Beckman and Carolyn Dorwin are part of the team collecting the hubcaps, priming them, then making them available at the Wildling to those interested in participating in the project. 

“We are grateful to the City of Buellton for funding our first public art project that will encourage community members to upcycle used hubcaps into fun, nature inspired works of art for the whole community to enjoy,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, Wildling Museum executive director. “The project is a great expression of our mission to celebrate nature through art and encourage sustainable practices such as recycling and upcycling. We encourage all ages to participate and we look forward to seeing what folks create.” 

Photo by Derek Glas

”During this pandemic we all need more opportunities to be creative and forget the other stresses in our lives, and since people still can’t come to the museum, we were excited about a public art opportunity where anyone in the community can get involved,” she continued. 

“I got the idea from an arts group in Ventura who turned hubcaps into flowers for an installation. I thought I wanted to do that someday,” said Otte-Demangate. “Stacey and I thought of doing it last year but the timing wasn’t right.”

Last year Thompson had created an art piece consisting of bullet casings and rifle shells that were cleaned up from an unofficial firing range. They brain stormed and came up with the idea of creating a Condor art installation consisting of over 3,500 shells.

“We love the concept of upcycling rather than recycling because we are turning it into art. The art then helps bring awareness to the problem of too much trash in our world as well as being a fun and beautiful thing to look at and enjoy,” said Otte-Demangate.

Besides finding and preparing the hubcaps, the finished works of art are then installed in various locations, primarily in Buellton. There are already 9 installations at the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden. There will also be some at the museum when they can reopen and they will be asking if any businesses would be interested in hosting an art piece.

The public installations will run through the end of October. The museum will also be posting images of each of the hubcaps on their website so people can enjoy it virtually and while there, visitors can check out their many other virtual offerings.

“The Wildling’s mission marries art and nature and feels this project is a blend of both that the whole family can enjoy,” said Otte-Demangate. “There are a couple of dozen hubcaps available with more to come. The Wildling will need them finished and back by 5 p.m. Thursday, August 20, but we install them as we go along.  We are so grateful to the city of Buellton for their support and we hope the community enjoys our first public art installation.”

Visit the Wildling website at to learn more about the project and to download a participant form. Email the Wildling Museum staff at to arrange pick-up of a primed hubcap ready to paint. Art supplies will be provided if needed.  Call (805) 686-8315 with any questions.