EcoArtSpace

ecoartspace NYC fall events

This fall we have had a whirlwind of events since early September and time is flying by, the leaves are starting to come down in the Hudson Valley, the temperature is dropping and sadly the gardening season is finished.

The season began with the opening of Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia on September 12th. This exhibition highlights the growing focus and emergence of “green” principles and sustainability in relationship to food, art, design and agriculture. The exhibition includes six artists or artist teams who created socially engaging interventions in the landscape. Their works are related to growing indigenous food, the healing properties of plants, sustainable agriculture, water irrigation, permaculture planting, recycling of materials and deer grazing, all creating an aesthetic and cultural link between art and cultivation of the land.

Several current popular books and films about food’s relation to sustainability have helped to propel a new generation of public interest in issues related to organic growing, heirloom seeds, eating and purchasing local food, farmers markets and back yard vegetable gardens. Also being investigated in the media are the negative consequences of monoculture planting and factory farming practices, and the inhumane treatment of livestock in industrial agriculture. The economic downturn and rising fuel and grocery prices have also motivated a new focus on sustainability in relation to food.

Many artists have been engaging these important ecological and social issues in the past few years. The Schuylkill Center presented a unique opportunity for artists to interact with the landscape, with its preserved open space and agricultural history. Down to Earth at Brolo Farm, is presented at an abandoned farm site and each of the artists has created a large-scale outdoor work on this four-acre location.

Making artworks with living components such as plants and water takes a vastly different approach than creating or placing traditional objects in the landscape. These art projects are dependent on the unpredictability of weather and forces of nature including animals and insects. The implication of potential damage and risks involved in the works surviving have forced the artists to acknowledge that like gardeners, they are merely collaborators with nature. They took on this complex challenge with skill and with the help of many staff members, volunteers, students and friends.

After six months of hard work on the projects, constant worry about the weather and water resources being shared, we opened to a day long gathering of at least 200 people. The weather forecast was rain for the entire day – but miraculously the rain held off until just after 6pm when the opening was over. I led a tour group of each project beginning with Joan Bankempers Willa, A Medicinal Herb Garden. Joan spoke about the significance of herbs historically, how they were used as medicine by healers and midwives for hundreds of years but were discouraged in the past century due to modern medicine frowning on the practice. She made the timely connection to our present day health care crisis by encouraging visitors to take a preventative approach to wellness by learning about the healing properties of plants and distributed an informational color brochure she had produced for the occasion. Titled Willa after the Paleolithic fertility figure Venus of Willendorf, Joan’s fifty-ft. garden is modeled after this archaic form. Contained inside the figure are seven circles representing Hindu chakras or energy centers from root to crown. Each chakra is planted with herbs and flowers that can respectively lead to healing for that area of the body. (Joan’s printed handout makes the connection of each chakra in the human body – and a list of associated healing plants.) The overall design of this project also reflects on the 1970’s work of Feminist artist Ana Mendieta, well known for her Silueta series of figurative Earthworks which involved carving her imprint directly into mud or sand.

Next on the tour was Stacy Levy speaking about her sculptural fence installation Kept Out. This work provides an opportunity to investigate how the deer alter their own edible landscape. The deer’s meal choices affect the growth of the forest and the field: their grazing results in fewer seedlings of native tree, shrub and herbaceous species. Due to human influence, deer populations are out of balance and destroying the sustainability of their own food sources in the field and forests. Stacy created two versions of this piece, the first was a prototype on her own woodland site in mid-PA where she worked out the pattern of criss-crossing tall blue metal poles as a deer fence. Stacy spoke about the ways in which deer are ravaging the landscape, eating everything in sight – the end result of which means that far fewer trees ever make it to maturity beyond deer grazing height. This has serious implications and consequences for the future of unprotected woodlands and forests. Since we no longer have large predators for the deer (other than humans in cars and deer hunters in season), they are over-populating. Stacy brought up the fact that we all love to see deer in the landscape and equate seeing them with “nature”, but the irony being that the deer by consuming all their resources will leave nothing left to eat for future deer generations (sound familiar?). The larger unanswered question is what to do about the continuing growth in human population that leaves less and less room for deer and other wild species to roam and eat.

Following Stacy was a water leveling demonstration by artist Knox Cummin. His functioning rainwater collection sculpture, titled Not Drain Away provided the water for Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike’s American Roots Garden. The three artists decided to collaborate early on in the project, which worked out beneficially for all. Since it rained for a solid month in June, the garden thrived but later in dry, hot August we had to resort to hand watering. Not Drain Away takes the shape of a twenty-ft. square room and is built out of wood attached to the roof of the existing farmhouse. It is complete with rain barrels, piping and an irrigation system. The water collection system is gravity powered and uses no external energy to operate. By collecting rainwater, there is no additional load on the municipal water supply or well water. This elaborate sculpture combines craftsmanship, art and design, proving the case that art can be both functional and aesthetic.

Contained inside the structure of Not Drain Away, is a vegetable garden by Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike (Pittsburgh, PA). Titled An American Roots Garden, it includes foods common to early America, including Native American crops and those brought by settlers and immigrants. These include corn, squash, and beans (commonly known as the “three sisters”), a variety of potatoes and tomatoes, beets, carrots, sunflowers, marigolds, and herbs. The garden is laid out in a quilt-type pattern that provides a structure to consider the evolution and story of five staple crops and how food cultures are lost or preserved. Ann and Steffi harvested carrots, beets, corn and potatoes the day of the opening. Their garden reached its peak in August both in terms of abundance and beauty. The artists spoke about reconnecting to the past in the use of a “kitchen garden” and stressed the importance of holding on to our individual cultural histories in relationship to passed down food traditions and family recipes. The artists also created a kid’s placemat to hand out at the opening with a word puzzle and kitchen garden quilt for coloring.

We then moved the tour out to a large former crop field on the site to speak with artist Susan Leibovitz Steiman. Her garden Urban Defense was a tour de force collaborative project. Susan lives in the S.F. Bay Area, so her project involved local participation from friends, volunteers and student assistants Susan hired from the Philadelphia University Sustainable Design Program, led by Fern Gookin. Susan spoke about creating the garden with techniques of permaculture, a planting method that mimics nature’s principle of combining diverse compatible plantings that conserve labor, water and soil, to produce abundant healthy food. The forty-ft. square installation has at its heart a five-sided permaculture urban forest orchard, contained within a raised bed structure built using locally culled household salvage. The title Urban Defense and the form of the installation refer to Philadelphia’s myriad columned public buildings, and to the political strength of the U.S. Defense Department’s Pentagon. Ecologically, Urban Defense honors another American symbol, the apple—its five seed chambers of diverse seeds can create an entire sustainable food forest. Urban Defense includes more than a dozen varieties of trees, perennial bushes and annuals whose fruits have been shared and donated to local food banks.

The last stop on the far side of the same field was to Simon Draper’s Habitat for Artists Collective. The work titled Drawn to / Drawn from the Garden consists of a mini art studio, potting shed, and seven vegetable/flower gardens. The collective of artists in this project included Todd Sargood, Odin Cathcart, Jeff Bailey and Cathy Lebowitz. Draper spoke about his childhood experience of gardening with his father and how that joint activity created a neutral space for otherwise difficult communication. He also related how his interest in shed-making stems from that same period of time, where he saw how the backyard shed could become a place for contemplation, tinkering and creative projects. The HFA Collective has to this date constructed 20 different habitats (sheds) in various sites around the Hudson Valley, NYC and Philadelphia. This project aims to encourage backyard food growing, recycling of materials and the re-purposing of abandoned sites for gardening. Local artists and school groups were invited to collaborate and to adopt two of the garden plots, which provided opportunities for engagement, the shed siding consists of art panels by school children.

Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes is on view in Philadelphia through November 28th. Read a review of the exhibition in the Philadelphia Inquirer by art critic Edith Newhall here.

In order to bring the creativity and huge amount of labor involved in making Down to Earth available to a New York audience, a documentation form of the exhibition opened at ecoartspace in NYC on October 3rd. The same artists from the Philadelphia show are exhibiting photographs, prints and an herbal apothecary by Joan Bankemper. Also included are several additional artists’ projects, a video by Eva Bakkeslett, Alchemy: The Poetics of Bread; a video by Jacinto Astiazaran & Fritz Haeg, The Story of Manahatta and the Lenape Edible Estate Manhattan; a film by Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony, I Am The Animal That I Am; Eve Mosher’s mini green roof modules, Seeding the City; Andrea Polli & Chuck Varga’s, Hello Weather! an outdoor data collecting weather station; Andrea Reynosa & Kevin Vertrees, Sky Dog Projects, time lapse videos of corn and hops on their farm with a hops pillow by Donna Sharrett, and Christy Rupp’s food packaging, New Labels for Genetically Engineered Food.

The exhibition will remain on view at the ecoartspace NYC office through November 21st at 53 Mercer Street in Soho, NY. Hours are Saturdays 12 – 6pm and by appointment.

On Sunday October 4th, performance artist Chere Krakovsky presented her work, Mothers and Daughters at Solar One in the Habitat for Artists shed that has been situated there since July 10th when it left ecoartspace on Mercer Street.

Chere’s performance explored how one generation offers its lessons to the next, both learned and unspoken. In the first part of the performance she honored her Eastern European grandmother by washing her laundry by hand the same way her grandmother did a century ago. She then hung it out to dry on a clothes line connected to the Habitat/shed with the East River as background. Following this Chere invited her 86 year old mother, Dorothy Krakovsky to join her in the shed to teach Chere to sew by hand, which she in turn was taught to do by Chere’s grandmother. In this piece the everyday and the creative co-exist. The shed served as the home location for the everyday tasks of doing laundry and sewing. Visitors were invited to participate in the sewing lesson or share in conversation about what has been offered/handed down to them from their mothers. The artwork of mother, daughter and grandmother filled the interior of the habitat during the performance. Chere’s performance work revolves around her ever-changing notions of home, it’s location and meaning.

On October 24th at ecoartspace NYC in conjunction with 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action, we will screen three films – by Eva Bakkeslett, Jacinto Astiazaran & Fritz Haeg, and Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony.

Eva Bakkeslett’s “Alchemy: The Poetry of Bread” – A poetic evocation on the alchemy of bread brings the act of baking the most basic of staples, into a high art form.

Jacinto Astiazaran & Fritz Haeg, “The Story of Mannahatta and the Lenape Edible Estate: Manhattan” as told by Eric Sanderson of the Mannahatta Project. – Ever wondered what New York looked like before it was a city? Welcome to Mannahatta, 1609. Now, after nearly a decade of research, the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society has un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan.

Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony‘s “I Am The Animal That I Am” – Narrates the grave threat to the bee population including “colony collapse disorder” from the perspective of 6 Hudson Valley Beekeepers.

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Green Patriot Posters for Blog Action Day 09′


Today is Blog Action Day for Climate Change. Over 10,000 bloggers from 155 different countries will be uploading posts to spread the word about how our world is changing. For our contribution ecoartspace decided to highlight the Green Patriot Poster project initiated by the Canary Project founder Ed Morris early this year. This is an ongoing campaign centered on the development of posters that encourage all U.S. citizens to build a sustainable economy. These posters can be general (“We Can Do It!”) or can promote a specific sustainability action. You can vote for your favorite posters, create your own posters, distribute posters, or partner with them to develop a campaign for your specific cause. This is an accessible way to spread the word to large amounts of people.

ecoartspace gives Green Patriot’s a thumbs up!

HELP by etling

Imagine if everyone in the world lived in one dorm room, and we didn’t yet have the means to travel to the next room over… And everyone wouldn’t stop smoking. Welcome to Apartment Earth.

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Upcoming Lectures/Panels

ecoartspace NYC – amy lipton



September 24, 2009
Community Roundtable on Habitat for Artists Project
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

State University of New York – New Paltz

October 3, 2009
Q and A with Habitat for Artists Collective
Solar One (East River at 23rd St)
New York, NY

October 10, 2009
Strategies for Success in Challenging Times
International Sculpture Center Annual Conference
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ

ecoartspace WEST – patricia watts



September 29, 2009
Art & Ecology: An International Perspective
School of Art and Design
San Jose State University, California
Tuesday Night Lecture Series

November 2, 2009
Art & Ecology: An International Perspective
Land Art: Art Nature Community
University of New Mexico

November 17, 2009
Art & Ecology in the Santa Monica Mountains
Culture in the Canyon: Chautauqua Series
Temescal Gateway Park, Pacific Palisades, California
Mountains Conservancy of the Santa Monica Mountains

November 24th, 2009
Hybrid Fields: Food and Art
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Community Design Program
Watts Cooking: Imagining an Accessible Food Infrastructure

January 28, 2010
Environmental Aesthetics: Artists Addressing Environmental Issues
Epiphany West 2010 Visualizing Sustainability Conference
Co-sponsored by Church Divinity School of the Pacific and
Center for the Arts, Religion and Education
Berkeley, California

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Ecoartspace West: Report from Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim by Patricia Watts

Last month I was invited to participate on an artist selection panel for the Grand Canyon South Rim Artist-in-Residency Program. This AIR program is only a couple years old and was inspired by the North Rim program, which began six years ago and has placed traditional representational painters in residence. The new AIR coordinator for the South Rim program, Rene Westbrook, is a contemporary artist and member of The Caravan Project, which is a collaborative of artists who have performed mobile art shows inside and outside trailers since 1992. Westbrook was interested to bring a more diverse range of artistic media to the program this year, a goal that was apparently supported by the other panelists including a local artist, executive director of a chamber orchestra, a publications specialist for the park, and current artist in residence. Together we selected 12 artists (out of 62) who have been invited to come to the Grand Canyon betweenOctober 2009 and September 2010 and spend up to three weeks creating new work. Each of these artists will be asked to donate one piece inspired by the residency to become part of the NPS Collection.



Another important goal wa
s to select artists who showed an interest in addressing one or all of the Park’s Interpretive Themes, including but not limited to: Water, Geology, Biology, Conservation, Inspiration, and Native American Connections. Westbrook felt that since recent programming at NPS has encouraged dialogue around the advocacy of environmental issues like climate change, water rights and indigenous people’s rights that it would be relevant to include more conceptual or content driven art that may have previously been considered too political. This is the new wave of Parks management, which I understand the superintendent at the Grand Canyon has embraced.

Of the 12 artists selecte
d there were two landscape painters (Susan Klein and David Alexander), three photographers (Kim Henkel, Michael Miner and Leah Sobsey), a jeweler (Erica Stankwytch Bailey), a writer (Dana Wildsmith), a yodeler (Randy Erwin – Cowboy Randy), and four multimedia artists (Bridget Batch andKevin CooleyAndrew Demirjian, and Aaron Ximm). Kim Henkel proposed to do a pinhole photography workshop with visitors at the park and Leah Sobsey solar prints of plants, which looked like they would be a valuable addition to the NPS collection. And, believe it or not, I was quite taken with the potential of Cowboy Randy’s proposal to create new yodels that reflect the Park Themes! Bridget Batch and Kevin Cooley, a husband/wife collaboration proposed to engage the Native American population in a photo/film documentary, a very contemporary ethnographic portrait.

Of particular interest to me were two sound artists, Andrew Demirjian and Aaron Ximm, who included proposals to do audio postcards of the Grand Canyon. There is such potential to engage the elemental and architectural features at this site that these more conceptual artists, I believe, will be better able to actively engage a captive audience with temporal interventions in the landscape. Also, this more media driven work can also be experienced online for those who cannot make thetrip to the “big ditch” as the locals call it. Both artists will be in residence during the peak tourist season at the Park next year.


Some interesting facto
ids about the Grand Canyon:

  • Grand Canyon National Park is located in of one the cleanest remaining pockets of air in the United States and is a Class I area.
  • Legislation passed in 1975 to enlarge Grand Canyon National Park contained the first-ever clause mandating the federal protection of “natural quiet and experience.”
  • Although Grand Canyon reveals rocks ranging from 270 to 1,840 million (1.8 billion) years old, the landscape is relatively young, having been sculpted in just the last 5-6 million years.
  • The vastness of its landscape—an average depth of 4,000 feet, width of 10-18 miles, and a length of 277 river miles—contains a seemingly infinite system of colorfully sculptured plateaus, mesas, buttes, cliffs, slopes, ridgelines, and side canyons.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Grand Canyon National Park as a World Heritage Site in 1979, recognizing it as a place of universal value under natural world heritage site criteria to be preserved as a part of the heritage of all peoples.


The South Rim National Park gets
approximately 4.5 million visitors a year, mostly from Europe and Asia. It definitely felt like visiting a foreign country.

From Left to Right (AIR Jurors): Rene Westbrook, Burt Harclerode, Patricia Watts, Kim Buchheit, Richard Chalfant, and Tom Pittenger.


Art from Top to Bottom: Detail of book cover The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World by Bert Plantenga which includes Cowboy Randy, Solar print by Leah Sobsey, Pinhole photograph by Kim Henkel, Sound installation by Aaron Ximm (the walls are listening).

Artists Create Edible Gardens/Curated by Amy Lipton

Update on Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes. Artists: Joan Bankemper, Knox Cummin, Ann Rosenthal/Steffi Domike, Stacy Levy, Habitat for Artists (with Simon Draper, Jeff Baily, E Odin Cathcart, Cathy Lebovitz, Todd Sargood) and Susan Leibovitz Steinman. For background information on this exhibition please scroll down the blog to see the last post on May 28th for descriptions of the projects.

It had been 3 weeks since my last visit to see the development of the artists’ gardens in Philadelphia at the Schuylkill Center and the new growth was lush and overflowing. Philly has a warmer (and more humid) climate than the Hudson Valley where I live, and I was shocked to see how much was growing in comparison to my home garden which produced very little in the way of veggies with the exception of cucumbers and lettuce, plants that don’t mind wet and cold conditions. My tomato plants got early blight, but the red and yellow heirlooms planted in the American Roots Garden by Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike were healthy and delicious if not a bit overgrown! The rain barrel water collection system by Knox Cummin has done a great job til now, but on this visit the barrels seemed to be clogged and we had to resort to the hose off of the farmhouse. Ann did a kids’ camp workshop in July at SCEE to create a series of art banners depicting the various plants, they came out beautifully and are now hung on the tubing for the irrigation system above the garden.

Water issues have been the biggest area of troubleshooting during the course of these projects and the artists have all had to be ingenious at working out ways for the gardens to be watered in their absence. Urban Defense by Susan Leibovitz Steinman is being watered from the house spigot, five hundred feet away with a soaker hose and timer system installed by Susan’s assistants Fern Gookin and Scott Torr from Philadelphia University’s Sustainable Design Grad program. Since Susan lives in Berkeley, CA, maintaining her garden from such a long distance has had its logistical challenges, but Susan has a great team in place and with added gardening expertise and help by her close friend Fredda London, a Philly resident – things are looking great. Many of the plants in both of these gardens are ready to harvest and will go to local organizations that distribute fresh produce to the needy.

Simon Draper and Todd Sargood of HFA were working when I arrived mid afternoon in the hot, sticky August weather, they looked wilted but happy. Todd was adding some recent art tiles as siding to the shed. These tiles have been painted by kids, campers at SCEE and from local schools. They will continue to make more art tiles to be added before the opening day. The 7 garden beds around the shed were tended, weeded and in some cases re-planted, as the earlier part of this summer was rainy and somewhat cooler than normal. Not great conditions for seeds to thrive.

Joan Bankemper’s medicinal herb garden, Willa, was thriving and the soaker hose system she buried throughout her 7 chakra beds seemed to be in good working order. The tobacco plants in particular were enormous and had beautiful flowers, something I had never seen on these plants in fields that are not allowed to flower. In the photo to the right Joan is harvesting some flowering hyssop. There will be a complete list of all the herbs planted in each chakra and their medicinal benefits to those areas of the body available for the public at the opening.

This project has been a real learning process for all with many successes and some frustration, but the results are already worth the effort. The artists have met with challenges during this “garden growing art project” that they probably have not encountered before, but took them on with dedication. They have had to depend on many volunteers and deal with the unpredictability of weather, animals, insects and soil conditions. Like gardeners they have been willing to experiment and to cope with these inherent risks and lack of control, all for a temporal public art viewing experience.

Everyone will be back to finish up the first week of September in time for the opening day on the 12th. August 30th will be a volunteer day organized by Zoe Cohen and Rachel Dobkin, managers of the SCEE environmental art program. The gardens will be harvested, re-mulched, pruned and mowed around the edges to be ready for public viewing. A gallery exhibition related to all of the projects will be installed indoors at the Center. Stay tuned for a report then.

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i wanna jam with you

Fourth Annual Jam with the Fallen Fruit Collective
Sunday, August 2 - 10am to 1pm

at Machine Project

This year Fallen Fruit has also sent out a National Call for a Summer of Public Fruit Jams, encouraging people everywhere to get together and organize their own collective jam sessions. Their hope is to inspire a national movement of public jamming. For instructions contact: Matias Viegener, Fallen Fruit @ (323) 788-1479.

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AFLA’s 2009 Design Green Call for Entries and Scholarship


From the Architectural Foundation of Los Angeles: As Renzo Piano suggests, sustainability is the 21st century order for architecture and the built environment-and when exceptional design is seamlessly integrated with new high performance standards for conservation and sustainable building practices are implemented, innovative and sophisticated solutions are the result. This evolution of form is coming of age and changing the landscape one space, one home, and one building at a time. The Architectural Foundation of Los Angeles (AFLA) mission recognizes this metamorphosis of design integrated with the language of sustainability and a spirit of environmental justice. AFLA recognizes both LEED and the Living Building Challenge (LBC) as measures of best practice sustainable design and sees a need to recognize design elegance in that context. The Design/Green Awards were created by the AFLA to honor exceptional design of LEED and LBC projects in Southern California. As with the judging of last year’s entries, this year’s jury will include internationally recognized architects, engineers, and designers.

To download an application form go to http://www.afla.us/cfe.html

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Rural Culture & Urban Arts: Terroir Wrap

Emily Payne Haven
(2009) site-specific installation
clay, wax, linen thread

After a three month run the Terroir exhibition in Marin County (Northern California), organized by ecoartspace west has closed. This indoor/outdoor exhibition included 28 Bay Area artists and several site-specific installations both indoor and outdoor. A few of the outdoor temporal works were already removed by the time of the closing reception. There are several posts on the Art at the Cheese Factory blog that capture the programs and artists included. Below are a few highlights and additional information.

Overall, it was a well attended exhibition with a high number of people who had not planned to see an art exhibition when they arrived to visit the Marin French Cheese Company. Of the 42 days the gallery was open to the public, attendance was approximately 70 persons per day. Outdoors there was high traffic flow, with up to 10,000 people over the three-month period. There was also a one-week residency, the very first at this site. And, a total of four events including an opening reception, curator’s tour & tasting, artist talk and closing reception. The owners of the cheese factory were closely involved and really appreciated the number of younger conceptual artists included. Our goal was to show work that visitors could relate to with regard to subject matter and that was a new aesthetic than they might expect to see in a local gallery (no landscape paintings or traditional sculpture). The consensus was that the works were engaging and that visitors were surprised to find conceptual art at their local gathering site.


Some highlights include:

Susan Leibovitz-Steinman Land(e)scape (2009) topsoil, rain and pond water all collected on the cheese factory grounds, and acrylic paint Photo ©2009 Jeannie O'Connor

Philip Krohn with Paul Reffell
The Kindling (2009)
11’ X 8’ diameter misc firewood (cypress, douglas fir, eucalyptus, monterey pine)

Mark Brest van Kempen Lineaus Line
2009 approximately 600 ft
(500 tags)

Jessica Resmond Jorge Bachman Shipped
Global Terroir (2009)
58” X 130” 4 inkjet prints/sound component

Lewis de Soto
APPELLATION: Napa 4 (10.12.07)
K3 inks on paper 26″ x 77.5” X 2″ Courtesy Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

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Report from Seattle Public Art Conference

ecoartspace participated in this year’s Americans for the Arts Public Art Network annual conference in Seattle (June 17-20, 2009), curating a Green Room workshop and also facilitating an afternoon roundtable session on selecting artists for “Green” public art projects. The theme of this year’s conference was Renewable Resources: Arts in Sustainable Communities.

Approximately 80 people attended the morning Green Room session rotating through 5 tables in 3 half hour sessions covering most aspects of greening the arts including Communications, Operations, Programs, Facilities, and Public Art. Ian Garrett, Executive Director of The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) and teacher of Sustainable Theater and Technology at CalArts (Valencia, CA), led the operations or office procedures sessions. Jennifer Orr, who is the green team leader for Bumbershoot: Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival, led the communications sessions. Michael Crowley, member of the Broadway Green Alliance in New York City led the facilities sessions along with one of the very first LEED attorney’s, Janet Kim Lin, with Bullivant Houser Bailey in Seattle. Michael wrote his award winning thesis in Arts Adminstration from Goucher College entitled Somewhere That’s Green: Environmental Stewardship in Performing Arts Organizations. Betsy Bostwick, Public art Manager for Clackamas County Arts Alliance and recent graduate of the Master’s program in Arts Administration from the University of Oregon (Eugene), led the public art sessions. Bostwick wrote her thesis on Going Green with Public Art and published an article for the Community Arts Network on Greening Public Art Policy in 2008. And, Patricia Watts with ecoartspace who led the programs sessions shared one of her most prolific exhibitions, Hybrid Fields, in terms of high community participation and engagement with a broad audience on issues of sustainability. This was a group show of artists addressing food issues both in the gallery and in the public sphere.

In the afternoon roundtable, a group of 20 artists and administrators discussed the artist selection process for LEED buildings and alternative transportation projects, led by artist and project manager Vaughn Bell with SDOT, Rebecca Ansert with the LA County Arts Commission, and again ecoartspace founder and west coast curator, Patricia Watts.

Overall the junior arts administrators (and some veteran administrators like Barbara Goldstein from San Jose who participated in the Green Room) were pleased that becoming sustainable was the thematic. And, being in Seattle we were surrounded by established public artists like Lorna Jordan, Buster Simpson, Dan Corson, and many others from the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR) who have been creating sustainable artworks for years! However, the general feeling by most public artists was a real concern that if arts administrators are interested in greening everything from the selection process to what materials are being used to create works, that the focus is being taken off of the art. Many artists feel there are already so many limitations to doing public art that if they have to work in this theme or only use recycled materials, that they are not really creating ART. This is obviously debatable.

As of recent, funding has become stalled on many public art projects nationwide and everyone is sitting/waiting for stimulus funding to feed public art projects through transportation and water infrastructure projects. Public art programs that have already established an interest and built relationships with Environmental Services departments are poised to do some interesting projects in the coming years. A few exciting highly anticipated examples are the San Jose Water Pollution Control Plant, Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility, and the City of Ventura’s Harbor Wetland’s Project. And, in Canada, A Public Art Plan for the Expressive Potential of Utility Infrastructure.

In summary, it appears the time for public art that addresses environmental issues has finally arrived and artists who have been doing ecological art or sustainable art will have a better leg to stand on when applying for these more integrated and functional projects. Let’s keep our finger’s crossed. And, give special thanks to artists like Buster Simpson who won this year’s Public Art Award and who paved the way for all of us.

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