San Joaquin Valley


This post comes to you from EcoArtSpace

Water water everywhere and nor any drop to drink. This seems to be this years climate change theme as we are now experiencing first hand how an increase in the evapotranspiration cycle is leaving us with both flooding and arid landscapes. ecoartspace is currently working on three water programs this year, building on an online exhibition entitled WaterWorks, which we curated in 2006. And, ironically, this winter has been one of the driest on record in the USA according to the National Weather Service.

On February 11th, Saturday from 1-3pm, Amy Lipton will moderate a water panel at  Cathedral Church Saint John the Divine, Donegan Hall, Diocesan House in New York City. The panel discussion entitled Visions for Water: Ecological Artists Modeling Solutions for our Challenged Water Systems includes Lillian Ball, Jackie Brookner, Betsy Damon, Fredericka Foster and Aviva Rahmani. It is presented in conjunction with The Value of Water: Sustaining a Green Planet, an exhibition at the Cathedral running through March 25, 2012. RSVP to

Opening March 1st at the San Joaquin Delta College LH Horton Jr. Gallery, ecoartspace has curated eight site works for the exhibition Delta Waters. Jan Marlese, the Gallery Director in Stockton, California invited Patricia Watts last spring to identify mostly California artists who already had, or who would create, art works specifically addressing water related issue unique to the Delta Region. The San Joaquin Valley is a complex terrain of highly regulated water rights in one of the most historically fertile and productive food regions in the world. Artists include Linda Gass, Cynthia Hooper, Basia Irland, Kimberlee Koym-Mureira, OPENrestaurant, Esmeralda Ruiz, Tao Urban and Jane Wolff. Five of the eight installations are being created specifically for this exhibition.


On March 8th, there will also be a panel discussion at Delta College Tillie Lewis Theatre with Barbara Barriagan-Parrilla, Director of Restore the Delta; Lloyd Carter with Save Our Streams Council; Cynthia Hooper a video artist in Delta Waters; and Paul Ustach a SJDC science professor. Watts will moderate the discussion.

And, that’s not all, coming up this fall Patricia Watts has also been invited to curate a residency and exhibition entitled Shifting Baselines for the Santa Fe Art Institute addressing water scarcity in the Southwest including Cynthia Hooper and Hugh Pocock. Additional artists from the region will be selected for the exhibition that will open early 2013.

ecoartapace is one of the leading international organizations in a growing community of artists, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational. Our philosophy embodies a broader concept of art in its relationship to the world and seeks to connect human beings aesthetically with the awareness of larger ecological systems.

Founded in 1997 by Tricia Watts as an art and nature center in development, ecoartspace was one of the first websites online dedicated to art and environmental issues. New York City curator Amy Lipton joined Watts in 1999, and together they have curated numerous exhibitions, participated on panels, given lectures at universities, developed programs and curricula, ad written essays for publications from both the East and West Coasts. They advocate for international artists whose projects range from scientifically based ecological restoration to product based functional artworks, from temporal works created outdoors with nature to eco-social interventions in the urban public sphere, as well as more traditional art objects.

ecoartspace has been a project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in
Los Angeles since 1999.
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Otis Connects with the San Joaquin Valley

This is an awesome community arts project that connects graduate students in the Social Practice program at Otis College of Art and Design with the rural agricultural area of Laton, California. Initiated by Suzanne Lacy who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. For more information go to!_Bienvenidos!_Bem-vindo!

The very first Social Practice program “graduate exhibition” open till June 6th at the Santa Monica College Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery (includes work by Candida Ayala, Andy Manoushagain, Ofunne Obiamiwe, Jules Rochielle Sievert and Tory Tepp). Installation shot below:

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Land Subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley

{Evidence of land subsidence in California’s San Joaquin Valley from 1925-1977. From the USGS}

The picture above tells the story of about 30 feet. That’s how much the ground has subsided in parts of the San Joaquin Valley (at least through 1977) because of water withdrawls and the resulting soil consolidation.

Recently, the LA Times reported that the ongoing drought in California might result in no agricultural water being delivered to more than 200 water districts in California.

I’m no expert on California water policy so I’m going to keep my comments brief. But to me, a system where we are growing cotton and rice with irrigated water doesn’t make much sense. Here’s hoping some smart people some where will figure this out, because I know artists are going to be limited to doing things like reposting ominous photos (see above) of what is going on.
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