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
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 was 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 selected 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 Cooley, Andrew 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.
- 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.
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).
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.
Fourth Annual Jam with the Fallen Fruit Collective
Sunday, August 2 - 10am to 1pm
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.
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
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:
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.
The first ecoartspace live concert and fundraiser took place this past Saturday. Singer/songwriter Dar Williams gave a solo acoustic guitar concert at the McKenna Theater at the SUNY New Paltz campus – it was a thrilling evening and the audience gave Dar a very welcome reception, they were all big fans. See Dar’s blog post on the event HERE.
The concert coincided with a museum exhibition titled Ecotones and Transition Zones at the Dorsky Museum, housed in the same building with the McKenna Theater. Museum curator Brian Wallace describes the exhibition in this way, “New Paltz is an ecotone, a place where overlapping natural and social ecologies—the river and the mountains, the cosmopolitan and the rural—exist in a fragile tension. The artworks and art historical narratives associated with this region suggest the great opportunities (and responsibilities) that area artists, residents, and visitors have to visualize and act upon opportunities to contribute to a better world.” The museum stayed open late that evening so that concert goers could stroll through the galleries before the show, it was a successful crossover event.
Included in the exhibition is a work by Simon Draper’s Collective, Habitat for Artists (or HFA, which recently had an exhibition at the ecoartspace NYC project room). The Collective includes 15 artists -give or take- as the number changes with each project. There are 3 Habitats currently installed in New Paltz, one on campus, one on Main Street and the third (and most beautiful site IMHO) at Historic Hugenot Street. All of the Habitats have artist residency projects on-going for the duration of the exhibition.
Dar Williams was one of the original HFA members from the first exhibition last summer in Beacon, NY, where she turned her own Habitat into a writing space. She became interested in the bigger picture cause behind the HFA with her interest in recycling, sustainability, and artist’s need for space, and decided to give this benefit concert to help ecoartspace and HFA’s work continue.
The concert lasted for 2 hours with an opening act by Nick Panasevich who played some cool Randy Newman-esque piano tunes and also a guitar piece. Dar sang for an hour and a half, one great song after the next. Her set list included (The Ocean, The Beauty of the Rain, Spring Street, Midnight Radio, Book of Love, Buzzer, Iowa, The Babysitter’s Here, You Are Everyone, Holly Tree), and my personal favorites, Mercy of the Fallen and Hudson, (see complete Hudson lyrics BELOW). Dar is one of those gifted musicians with a beautiful voice, moving lyrics, well crafted songs, great guitar playing AND a huge generous spirit. It was a privilege to work with her.
If we’re lucky we feel our lives know when the next scene arrives so often we start in the middle and work our way out we go to some grey sky diner for eggs and toast New York Times or the New York Post then we take a ride through the valley of the shadow of death but even for us New Yorkers, there’s a time in every day the river takes our breath away And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own The river roads collect the tolls for the passage of our souls through silence, over woods, through flowers and snow and past the George Washington Bridge, down from the trails of Breakneck Ridge, the river’s ancient path is sacred and slow And as it swings through Harlem, it’s every shade of blue into the city of the new brand new And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own I thought I had no sense of place or past time was too slow, but then too fast the river takes us home at last Where and when does the memory take hold, mountain range in the Autumn cold and I thought West Point was Camelot in the spring. If you’re lucky you’ll find something that reflects you, helps you feel your life protects you, cradles you and connects you to everything. This whole life I remember as they begged them to itself never turn me into someone else And the Hudson, it holds the life we thought we did it on our own And the Hudson, holds the life we thought we did it on our own.
My current curatorial project Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes is underway at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) in Philadelphia, a show with 6 artists or artist teams, each creating a work about sustainable agriculture. The show takes place at a section of SCEE’s 3oo-plus acre site called Brolo Farm, complete with an abandoned farm house, barn, and farm fields that have not been actively used for decades. The overall site of the Schuylkill Center is the largest privately-owned open space area within the city limits of Philadelphia – featuring a variety of habitats including woodlands, meadows, five teaching ponds and wetlands. In addition, there are four miles of hiking trails and 7 sculpture/shelters from a current exhibition titled Gimme Shelter, commissioned by SCEE’s environmental art program.
The artists in Down to Earth are Joan Bankemper (NYC) who is creating a new version of her Medicinal Herb Garden, a large-scale garden planted in the form of an archaic feminine figure; Knox Cummin (Phila., PA) is building a rain water collection sculpture which contains a “room” garden by Ann Rosenthal and Steffi Domike (Pittsburgh, PA) titled An American Roots Garden, planted with herbs and vegetable indigenous to Native Americans such as squash, corn and beans; Simon Draper and the Habitat For Artists Collective including Todd Sargood and E Odin Cathcart (Hudson Valley, NY) have begun work on Drawn from the Garden, an art studio, potting shed, and 7 raised bed gardens, 2 of which local artists and school groups have been invited to adopt. Stacy Levy (Spring Mills, PA) will create a work titled Kept Out, a deer exclosure built partially in woodlands and partially in fields as an experiment of sorts to see what will grow when the deer are absent. Last but not least is Susan Steinman’s (S.F., CA) Urban Defense, a permaculture apple orchard housed within a built structure based on the pentagon form that the seeds make when you look inside a sliced apple.
I spent 5 days at the site last week, helping the artists get started, it was warm and sunny but low humidity, unusual for Philly but great working conditions. I’m pleased to see these projects start to take shape after several months of research on the part of the artists and discussion and planning with myself and the SCEE staff. The maintenance requirements of these living artworks after the planting (watering, weeding and eventual harvesting) are not to be underestimated. Ann and Steffi’s American Roots, will benefit from the rainwater being collected above and a hose system running through the beds, but the watering for the other gardens has not been completely resolved other than running a long hose from the farm house to the fields.
Creating “gardens as art” requires lots of advance planning, time in the field with the appropriate tools, ammending the existing soil, tons of compost – and plain old hard labor. Isn’t that always the case working outdoors? Real farmers deserve our utmost respect and this show aims to draw connections between art (culture) and working the land (cultivation). In conjunction with this exhibition The Schuylkill Center will soon be selling fresh produce from it’s own “Market Garden”. They have partnered with Urban Girls Produce (UGP) to begin growing a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, dedicating 1 ½ acres of their site for food production. UGB will plant, tend, and harvest all season to bring fresh produce to the Philadelphia market as well as having a weekly produce stand at Brolo Farm near the artists’ sites.
The rewards of presenting Down to Earth will be great as the artist’s gardens start growing (opening September 12th) and especially when we enjoy a harvest meal with the public on October 25th.