ecoartspace NY summer exhibitions

Since moving to Garrison, NY from NYC in 2001 I’ve organized museum, gallery and sculpture park exhibitions that have taken place in towns up and down the Hudson including Yonkers, Nyack, Beacon, New Paltz and Ghent – but collaborating with the Habitat for Artists (HFA) group has been my first opportunity to work on an exciting project right near my home. HFA was initiated in the summer of 2008 and came out of the work of Cold Spring-based artist Simon Draper. Initially he built a series of small shed structures that were placed at Spire Studios in Beacon, NY. They were made from used and recycled material, old lumber, windows and doors and even unfinished art works. Draper invited several artists to participate in the project, which then became known as Habitat for Artists. The artists took up residency and created small studio spaces working both in and outside the structures. They were asked to examine how they might redefine their creative space, needs and process. These small studios, each only six by six feet, become an intimate work space for the artist – but also act as a metaphor for viewers to contemplate how much space we really need in our own homes. HOW MUCH? HOW LITTLE? THE SPACE TO CREATE is the question HFA poses. In other words – how much more creative could we be as a culture if we used less materials, energy and land?

In the two years since it began, HFA in collaboration with ecoartspace has partnered with over twenty organizations and engaged with over fifty artists in various locations. Completed projects have taken place in Rhinebeck at Poet’s Walk with Scenic Hudson, in the town of New Paltz and at the SUNY campus, Kingston, Workspace Harlem, Urban Go Green NYC, Chashama in Times Square and Solar One on the East River Park, NYC. Aside from the current project at the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in Garrison there are also new works installed at Common Ground Farm CSA at Stony Kill, NY Burlington Community College in NJ and coming this September in Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River with the Destination Schuylkill Project.

Currently there are several new HFA artists working in studios hosted by the Hudson Highland Land Trust in Garrison, NY at their site at Philipsebrooke. Artists will rotate over the course of the summer and include: Susan English, Sheilah Rechtschaffer, Carol Flaitz, Michael Natiello, Sarah Haviland, Marnie Hillsley, Kit Burke Smithe, Christopher Manning, Carla Goldberg, Dionis Ortiz, Todd Sargood and Simon Draper. River of Words, a Garrison School based group of students hosted by Irene O’Garden and Lisa Mechaley have already created artworks for the HHLT site. Images: top Sarah Haviland, bottom left Sheilah Rechtschaffer, bottom right Susan English.

Habitat For Artists seeks to engage the artist with their community and to provide the opportunity to create a more dynamic relationship and role for the artist in that community. The Hudson Highlands Land Trust is a community-based organization devoted to protecting the natural resources, rural character, and scenic beauty of the Hudson Highlands in NY State’s Hudson Valley.

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Linda MacDonald: Stories from the North Woods

While living in Northern California the last five years, I have seen work by many artists who are concerned with environmental issues. The paintings and fiber works by Linda MacDonald have continued to inspire me during this time and I recently had the opportunity to curate a small show of her graphic narratives at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes (Marin County). The show was part of WITH THE EARTH: Art and the Environment project at GRO, an ongoing exhibition series initiated in 1990 in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Below is an excerpt of my catalogue essay:

Most can only imagine what it is like to witness first hand the social and economic impacts of the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest. For those living in urban cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc., or wide open spaces in the southwest, we know on a visceral level that over time the removal of large areas of old growth, or Rainforest, has a “fragmenting” effect on us all.

Linda MacDonald, however, experiences the visual evidence of our insatiable consumption daily in her own backyard. Born in Berkeley, and raised in Marin, she moved to Mendocino County in Northern California with her husband in 1970. They purchased fourteen acres in the “north woods” near Willits where they renovated an abandoned log cabin. It was during this period, spent out in the trees, where MacDonald decided to devote her studio time to establishing an arts practice in fiber and painting. After seven years and having two children, they decided to move to town for logistical reasons. And, it has been the highs and the lows of living in a timber-based economy, including California’s redwood tourism, that has inspired a lifetime of capturing this uniquely American regional vernacular.

Included were over 20 pieces with paintings, prints and
fiber works. There is a 20-page catalogue which can be purchased for $15 directly from the artist ( The exhibition ran from May 14 – June 20, 2010. Facebook event information HERE.

Top: Triangles in the Forest, 2007 (oil on paper)
Middle: Down by the River, 2009 (oil on paper)
Bottom: California Trees, 2009 (oil on paper)


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Agent of Change – James Reed in San Francisco

In 2008, ecoartspace co-curated an exhibition for Exit Art in NYC entitled Environmental Performance Actions, which included a video documentation of Agents of Change, a Unit Earth Agenda project developed by Shelley Sacks and James Reed of the Social Sculpture Research Unit, Oxford Brookes University (UK). Although I was familiar with the work, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Reed in San Francisco and to experience first hand what it might be like to be an “official” agent of change.

A group of five participants met at noon at the new Intersection 5M gallery, located in the San Francisco Chronicle building at Mission Street and 5th, where we spent three hours in an open discussion on what is agency and sharing personal experiences that catalyzed change in our lives. We then heading down to 4th at Mission Bay where we put on customized Agents of Change life preserver vests and held large wooden measuring sticks that illustrated the depth of several meters of potential water encroachment due to climate change. Each participant stood on their own along the waterway and was encourage to reflect on our own sense of agency in this situation, the site, and to record others concerns. Attached to the life preserver was a booklet where we could register and offer a receipt to passersby, confirming their concerns about climate change.

Reed studied under Shelley Sacks, a former student and collaborator of Joseph Beuys at Oxford Brookes from 2005-2007. It was during this time that they developed the Agents of Change climate change kits and began what has become a series of workshops and public interventions initiated at the Social Sculpture Today exhibition in Basel, Switzerland in April 2007.

Questions this project asks are:

How do we develop a wider personal and philosophical framework that cultivates a deep sense of personal and shared meanings?

How do we develop a culture of transforming our mode of consciousness?

How can we begin to realize our full potential as human beings and work as transformers of the materialist thought systems that shape our world?

How do we excavate the insights of the heart?

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Sneak a Peak of the upcoming EcoArtSpace benefit sale

Apologies to our ecoartspace fans who are looking for recent posts here. Both Amy and Patricia have been flooded with a range of projects and travels the last couple months that have taken our focus away from the blog. After the benefit we will resume posts in May, promise.

We invite you to either come to the exhibition benefit at Exit Art this month or spread the word to your friends in New York who can attend. It is an affordable adventure, one that is supporting important work to help provide a platform for artists addressing environmental issues in the visual arts.

Please join us in celebrating 10 years of programming!

Go to the What Matters Most? benefit blog to get updated information HERE.

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What Matters Most? ecoartspace benefit art exhibition

ecoartspace invites you to our first New York City benefit exhibition titled What Matters Most? hosted by Exit Art from April 15 – 28th, 2010.

Over 225 participating artists have created an original 8 x 10″ artwork related to the NY Times Dot Earth blog question of What Matters Most? or they have donated an existing work. For more information and a complete list of artists please read our blog:

What Matters Most? began with responses to this question posted Monday, February 15th on Andrew Revkin’s NY Times Dot Earth blog by leading environmental experts, writers and readers – and is still active on the archive:

Artworks will go on sale (first come first serve) beginning on noon at April 15th and ending on April 28th at 9pm at Exit Art Underground Space, 475 10th Ave at 36th St, NYC.

Music performances of Whale Music by David RothenbergNight Science by Ben Neill

Tickets are $135 in advance, $150 at the door for admission and includes a work of art. Admission Only tickets are $35 each.

If you can not attend but would like to support ecoartspace with a donation please go to this link for SEE, our fiscal sponsor:

ecoartspace NYC 2010 benefit “What Matters Most”

ecoartspace invites you to participate in our first NYC benefit exhibition titled What Matters Most? The show and benefit party will be hosted by Exit Art in NYC from April 15 – 28th, 2010.

What Matters Most? will begin with responses to this question posted on Monday February 15th on Andrew Revkin’s NY Times blog, Dot Earth by leading environmental experts, writers and readers. Participating artists will have the option of creating an original artwork related to the blog entry of their choice or donating an existing work.

All proceeds from this fundraiser will support ecoartspace activities and programs. ecoartspace has been operating as a bicoastal nonprofit platform for artists addressing environmental issues since 1999. In our ten years of programming we have worked with over 400 artists, curated 38 exhibitions, 70 programs and collaborated with over 140 organizations. To celebrate our achievements as well as raise money for future programs we recently held our first benefit auction at Mina Dresden Gallery in San Francisco on December 4th, 2009.

What Matters Most? begins Thurs April 15, 2010 and ends with our Benefit Sale: Thursday, April 28th , 2010. Please click on the image above for more detailed information.

Artists participating as of 2.13.10 include:

Joan Bankemper, Andrea Reynosa, Joy Garnett, Chrysanne Stathacos, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Diane Burko, Sandy Gellis, Fritz Haeg, Steven Siegel, Joanne Greenbaum, Lisa Hoke, Dove Bradshaw, Jaanika Peerna, Chris Kennedy, Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, Teri Hackett, Elizabeth Demaray, Robert Lobe, Kathleen Gilje, David Schafer, Claudia Hart, Lori Nozick, Christy Rupp, Kathe Burkhart, Joanne Howard, Abigail Doan, Alan Wexler, Charles Goldman, Marion Wilson, Emily Brown, Katie Holten, Robin Kahn, Nina Yankowitz, Carter Hodgkin, Geoffrey Hendricks, Nina Katchadourian, Hunter Reynolds, Erik Hanson, Janet Pihlblad, Kunie Suguira, J.J. L’Hereux, Austin Thomas, Mikael Levin, Rhona Bitner, Michael Somoroff, Sandi Sloane, Jill Levine, Steve Keister, Alison Moritsugu, LC Armstrong, Stacy Levy, Jan Harrison, David Webster, Simon Draper, Mary Mattingly, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Ann Rosenthal, Steffi Domike, Mary Ann Strandell.

We give thanks to the Exit Art staff for their support. This event is a continuation of our relationship with their Social-Environmental Aesthetic (SEA) program including our participation in The Drop exhibition in 2006 and EPA in 2008.

Amy Lipton and Patricia Watts

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ecoartspace fundraising activities 2009-2010

Cannot believe February is here already. Was meaning to make a post a couple weeks ago to provide an update on the ecoartspace SF Benefit fundraiser in December! We would really like to thank Jessica Resmond and Alan So with ME;D1.ATE who produce the biannual Soundwave Festival in San Francisco. It was a quick email and meeting back in September that prompted our collaborative effort to do a silent auction and performance event to help us both raise money for upcoming programs. This year’s Soundwave Festival has a green sound theme for 2010, so it made sense that we would partner. With only two months lead time to pull it together, we succeeded in bringing in over 60 donations of artworks and ephemera, located an awesome gallery space at Mina Dresden Gallery, attracted approximately 100 attendees, and rallied donations of foods from Marin French Cheese Company, Bi-Rite Market, Terra Savia, Woodbridge Winery, and Paulding & Company Kitchen. The art was inspiring, musical performances moving, and foods very delicious. We were able to raise enough (although modest) to start the new year off feeling like there is still hope in these tough economic times. And, Amy Lipton, Director of ecoartspace NYC, is now underway with plans for an East Coast fundraiser event this Spring. She will be announcing more information soon as plans start to gel (shooting for April/May).

View benefit pictures on Flickr here.

We still have a few artworks available as well here.

So far this year is promising some exciting shows including The Ins and the Outs an outdoor sculpture exhibition at Rockland Center for the Arts in Nyack, New York opening April 11th; MAKE:CRAFT which opens at the Otis College of Art and Design, Ben Maltz Gallery on October 4th. And, an invitation to participate in the Art Boom Festival in Krakow, Poland in June.

More soon on all fronts.

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Artist’s Talk by Kimberley Hart at Mixed Greens Gallery, NYC

On Saturday December 12, 2009, New York artist Kimberley Hart gave a talk about her recent exhibition Scout at Mixed Greens in Chelsea. The event was co-sponsored by ecoartspace and NYFA.

The works in Scout contemplate specific themes surrounding self-sufficiency, sustainability, observation, labor, cultivation, exploration, defense and tenacity.

Before mentioning any of the artworks in the show, Kimberley began by explaining that her new body of work came out of major life changes involving food and her interest around issues of agricultural sustainability. In the past few years, in an effort to eat healthy locally grown foods, she decided to give up all convenience foods and made a conscious effort to eat mostly organic foods. Kimberley feels that to a large part – many current environmental problems are due to our culture’s worship of convenience. To confront this dependence, Kimberley gave up packaged foods, ate strictly whole foods and eventually consumed only local and sustainably farmed food. She instituted a “no plastic” rule in her home which began with giving up bottled water and proceeded to take out containers, plastic bags and all plastic packaging.

Kimberley was influenced by reading many current popular books on the food revolution such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma which led her towards living a more sustainable life. She started urban homesteading, canning, composting, and cutting garbage down to one small bag a week. She joined a CSA, bought only grass fed, pastured meats and stopped eating out or ordering take-out. She is striving to have as small of a footprint as possible and is giving serious thought to starting a farm on a former cattle ranch in the South. This passion about food, sustainability, farming, and stewardship, led Kimberley to meet various people involved with permaculture and the transition movement, environmentalists and social justice advocates. She feels that as an artist she is coming from a different place but can potentially end up with similar and interrelated solutions.

In order to create this new show, Kimberley spent time contemplating a way to integrate her new outlook on life and focus on sustainability and self-sufficiency into her artwork. She decided to continue utilizing narrative and allegory as in her past bodies of work. Through drawing and sculpture, she exposes her alter ego represented as a mischievous, irreverent young girl who is self-reliant but more vulnerable and suspicious than in years past. Though noticeably absent from the work, this girl was once full of sparkles and glitter. She is no longer fantasizing about her hunting prowess or setting traps for inappropriate prey. Instead, we find her hunkered down in an austere outpost with few essentials and a concern for an unknown adversary. There are vestiges of a carefree girlhood, but the tenor has changed—a sense of uncertainty has eroded her daring as she struggles to maintain some bravery in the face of a new, foreboding reality.

The works in the exhibition reveal her alter ego’s surroundings, shelter and possessions. A “bank” holds prized, as well as scavenged, provisions and doubles as a repository for a personal currency and objects to barter in this new world. Beautifully crafted, ominous vultures skulk and spread their wings near a pivotal piece titled, The Death of Sparkle. While Kimberley’s alter ego has proven to be equally prissy and cunning in past exhibitions, she is now overwhelmed by apprehensions and threatened by the malicious marauder responsible for Sparkle’s death.

Fantasy and fine craftsmanship remain hallmarks of her work, but the tone has shifted to reflect a change—both imagined and real—in her environment. There is a marked shift in her alter ego from mischief-maker of the vernal woodlands to a menaced and solitary defender in a dystopic landscape.

“In an allegory of our shared hopes and fears, an itinerant, young heroine and an elusive, predatory force struggle for prominence. Survival for these characters is symbiotic; their lives intertwine in a closed loop of cause and effect where the lonely girl, in the face of a malicious entity and in a degrading environment, maintains an acute sense of optimism through her own perseverance. This dystopian fantasy explores an uncertain future, an existence outside of modern convenience where subsistence is the primary concern. Referencing issues ranging from institutional critique, environmental stewardship, egalitarianism and our shared literary and visual culture, this work of speculative fiction offers a potential outcome to our current socioeconomic crisis.

We are all scouts now.” Kimberley Hart, 2009

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