Dar Williams

Dar Williams benefit concert 6/27/09

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.

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ecoartspace opens project room in NYC

After months of discussion, planning and minor renovations, ecoartspace opened our first public space at 53 Mercer Street in Soho, NYC. We are calling the space a “project room,” which will be open to the public on Saturdays and by appointment through the end of June before switching to summer hours (to be announced).

Plans for the space include art exhibitions, salon style discussions, film/video screenings, panels, readings, performances and last but not least an art sale fundraiser event.

The first exhibition in the space is by Simon Draper and the Habitat for Artists Collective, an ecoartspace sponsored project since summer 2008. (see prior blog post for more info). HFA artists include Chris Albert, Richard Bruce, Sharon L. Butler, Ryan Cronin, Simon Draper, Kathy Feighery, Marnie Hillsley, Matthew Kinney, Grace Knowlton, Michael Natiello, Sara Mussen, Steven Rossi, Todd Sargood, Matthew Slaats, Lynn Stein, Dar Williams, Grey Zeien, Donald Kimmel and Flying Swine live Theater. On display is a fully actualized 6 x 6 x 10 ft. “habitat” (shed studio space), re-created from many parts and components by various artists in the HFA Collective’s prior habitats. It is a truly recycled and collaborative effort – as all of the prior sheds were comprised of reclaimed components. The HFA project will remain on view through June before relocating to Solar One’s “City Sol Festival” at Stuyvesant Cove Park on the East River in NYC.

There were 2 separate opening events, the first was “Soho Night” on Saturday March 5th in conjunction with the Soho non-profits spaces – Apex Art, Art in General, Artist’s Space, Dia Art Foundation, The Drawing Center, Harvestworks, and Swiss Institute. All of the spaces stayed open late for an evening of extended exhibition viewing and special programs. The second official opening was on Saturday March 7th all day until 6pm. Despite the fact that the “Habitat” fills up a large central portion of the room, the space was filled with curious visitors for the entire opening. There are several other works on view including a HFA Collective wall of tiles, created by all of the artists for eventual use as shingles on another shed.

ecoartspace also has a private “front room” space where works are on view by several artists including Katie Holten, David Chow, Sara Mussen, Richard Bruce, Joy Garnett, Marnie Hillsley and Todd Sargood. The energy in the room was filled with optimism, many people were discussing the “return of Soho” as an art neighborhood, now that the recession has hit some of the high end shops are already closing – so the neighborhood could “downscale” and allow for more art spaces. This could be a good time for art making that involves artist-driven projects such as HFA, collaboration, sharing of ideas and ecologically inspired art activities – all things that ecoartspace has been promoting for the past 9 years.

images above: inside the HFA shed (top), HFA Collective tile wall, more images to be seen on ecoartspace Facebook group page

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Soho Night and ecoartspace NYC project room opening March 5th and 7th

On Thursday March 5th ecoartspace will join with several other NYC non-profit art spaces for Soho Night. There will be special events, exhibitions and programs from 6 – 10 pm. (see list) For this event ecoartspace will stay open until 8pm so please visit us on the early side.

The public opening for the new ecoartspace NYC project room at 53 Mercer Street in Soho will be on Saturday March 7th from 12 -6pm.

The first ecoartspace project at Mercer St will be Simon Draper’s work with the Habitat for Artists Collective which began in Summer 08 in Beacon, NY. In that original Habitat for Artists project Simon Draper supplied each artist with a basic shed (6 x 6′ with doors, window and skylight). These collaborative works take the form of sheds, that literally functioned as temporary studio spaces and came outfitted with doors, windows and skylight. The materials used in the creation of the structures consists of reclaimed components and each artist in the collective creatively adapted their shed to suit their own needs. (read more details in the November 13th blog post on the HFA project).

For this new version of HFA, Draper’s collaborators include artists Chris Albert, Richard Bruce, Sharon L. Butler, Ryan Cronin, Kathy Feighery, Marnie Hillsley, Matthew Kinney, Grace Knowlton, Michael Natiello, Sara Mussen, Steven Rossi, Todd Sargood, Matthew Slaats, Lynn Stein, Dar Williams, Grey Zeien, Donald Kimmel and Flying Swine live Theater.

ecoartspace has been operating bi-coastally, with Amy Lipton in New York and Patricia Watts in the San Francisco bay area. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and due to a growing presence and increased demand for ecoartspace’s unique brand of environmentalism, the time has come to open an office in New York City.

ecoartspace is part of a growing community of artists, designers, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. The new Soho office space will promote a diverse range of artists whose works are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and educational. Future programs and events will include exhibitions, discussions, screenings and workshops.

“Artists today are breaking out of traditional confines of what is considered art and engaging in real world issues. By implementing a participatory structure with the diverse people that make up communities––these artists are pointing the way towards a new paradigm of environmental consciousness and sensitivity”, Amy Lipton, Ecovention 2002
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ecoartspace news and events

Many new things are percolating at ecoartspace since our benefit meeting. Simon Draper of Habitat for Artists fame will be installing one of his shed sculptures at the newly renovated ecoartspace office at 53 Mercer Street in January/Feb 09. Several events are in the planning stages now, such as an artist’s talk with eco art pioneers Helen and Newton Harrison to coincide with their January exhibition at Ronald Feldman Gallery just down the block. Also being planned is a special fundraising event with singer Dar Williams to benefit ecoartspace and Habitat for Artists. Upcoming curatorial projects will include a summer 09 exhibition at The Fields Sculpture Park/Art Omi, FieldWorkers will focus on artists’ projects that examine rural issues such as farming, growing and distributing food. Also Out of the Blue will open in February at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. This exhibition’s focus is on weather and its relationship to the creative process and was curated in 2006 by Joy Garnett, Joy Episalla and Amy Lipton for Abington Art Center. Tricia Watts departs next week for India to join the 48 Degrees Celsius Public Art Ecology conference in Delhi. Watts will also speak in February at the CAA annual conference in Los Angeles on land ethics in contemporary land art. Stay tuned for updates and further information on all of the above. Images: Above; Helen and Newton Harrison, Greenhouse Britain, Simon Draper, Habitat for Artists, Poet’s Walk, Rhinebeck, NY
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