Jackson Pollock Found in Dumpster

Adrian Hanft
2 min readSep 30, 2017

The world was beautiful before, back in my dumpster diving days.

I remember standing knee-deep in garbage in an alley behind a grocery store.

There, splattered on the side of a dumpster was a Jackson Pollock.

Some guy was probably throwing trash out the night before. He lifted a dripping sack of rotten fruit over his head and flung it against a canvas of peeling paint and rusted metal. The bag exploded and juicy filth dripped down the wall. Pollock would have been jealous. Unaware of his Abstract Expressionist masterpiece, the worker closed the lid, lit a cigarette, and cursed his manager under his breath.

I noticed. The beauty was stunning.

I fantasized about transporting that dumpster to the MoMA. I imagined rolling it across shiny floors, centering it in a giant gallery with pure white walls.

It made me happy to think of the art patrons holding their nose as they dismissed this piece as just another artist’s attempt to shock them.

But I was sincere, I believed that if they really looked they would see the immense beauty that was hiding in plain sight. I begged the imaginary audience to look. If you really look, maybe you will see it.

Sure, most people get offended. But maybe there will be one person who gives it a chance.

She enters the gallery and studies the textures. She falls in love with the colors and patterns. She sees what I see, she is thinking what I am thinking. And for a split second we aren’t alone. Me, standing in trash, alone in a Colorado alley — her, alone in a crowd of faces searching for beauty in NYC. We are the same.

Eventually I stopped taking photos of dumpsters, but I still believe the way to make the world a better place is not by pointing out ugliness but by finding the beauty hidden in the filth. When we realize how much beauty is contained in even the dirtiest areas we see beauty everywhere. If you really look, maybe you will see it.

Thanks for reading. Every Saturday I search through the junk in my head and write down thoughts that I hope you find worthy of attention. If my words find beauty in your eyes, please follow me and spread the word. Stay creative.



Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia