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Happy New Year! 2020

In 1997, I conceived of ecoartspace as a place where visitors could learn about the principles of ecology through immersive environments created by artists. I then published one of the first websites online with a directory of artists addressing environmental issues.  In 1999, I met Amy Lipton and we decided to join forces working from both the east and west coasts while operating under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, a 501c3 fiscal sponsor.

2019 marked 20 years that we have been curating art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. When Amy and I began doing research in the 1990s, there were not many artists yet working in and with nature. We spent many years educating curators and arts institutions on earth and ecological art from the late 1960s through the 1990s. The movement has evolved from an interest in earth as artistic medium, to working with scientists collaborating on conservation and restoration efforts, to a more DIY, in your own backyard, community arts or social practice in the 2000s. 

Combined, Amy and I have curated over 60 art and ecology exhibitions, many that were outdoors collaborating with artists doing site works. We have worked with well over one thousand artists from across the country, some internationally. This past year we have spent time reflecting on the work we have completed and had conversations on how to move forward.

We are preparing to make an announcement soon and wanted to let all of our fans know today that we are not finished with this work! The start of this decade offers us renewed perspective and there are many projects that we want to continue working on including in-depth video interviews with pioneering eco artists, ACTION GUIDES presenting replicable social practice projects, and curating exhibitions. 

ecoartspace wishes you all a very inspiring 2020!!!

Patricia and Amy


Sant Khalsa: Prana: Life with Trees

This past summer Griffith Moon Publishing in Santa Monica launched the book Sant Khalsa: Prana: Life with Trees. The subject of trees has been a focus of Khalsa's work for nearly five decades. Included are her earliest landscapes, photographs of the Santa Ana Watershed, sculptures and installations of works inspired by her research on air quality, and documentation of her life changing experience planting more than 1,000 trees in 1992 for a reforestation project in Southern California.

The book was inspired by a series of one person exhibitions presented at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, California in 2018, titled The Forest For the Trees. Included are essays by Betty Ann Brown and Colin Westerbeck, and interview excerpts with Khalsa conducted by Patricia Watts, founder/curator of ecoartspace in 2017. 

Sant Khalsa is an artist and activist. She is Professor of Art, Emerita at California State University, San Bernardino and resides in Joshua Tree.

You can purchase the book through Griffith Moon HERE or Amazon HERE


Ulrike Arnold's Earth paintings at the Yucca Valley Arts Center

Ulrike Arnold: Cosmovisions
Yucca Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center
May 4 - July 28, 2019

Ulrike Arnold from Düsseldorf, Germany has created paintings made from soils, mud and clay, from all five continents over more than thirty years. This series from 2017 is the first time she has made paintings with soils from the Yucatán. Arnold feels it was a way for her to discover the genuine colors of the peninsular region, and what it means to put oneself in a deep relation with the Earth, a region that the Mayas’ have known and tilled for thousands of years. Arnold combines a diversity of the chromatic shades of the mud and clay, as well as meteorite dust, a material that has traveled millions of miles through space, to create her pictures that are the place. 

Approximately 65 million years ago a gigantic sidereal rock with a diameter of 10 kilometers, consisting of minerals and metals, was passing through space at an incredible speed. This meteorite called Chicxulub hit the earth near Merida, Mexico, presently known as the Yucatán. The meteorite left a crater with a diameter of 200 kilometers and reduced everything that came in its way to rubble and ashes. What once was a vast place full of life now became a wasteland of destruction. The air was full of harmful gases and contaminating space debris. Giant sea waves devastated the coasts, and millions hectares of forest were lost. These extreme phenomena ultimately erased 75 percent of the flora and fauna of that time. 

The word “COSMOVISIONS,” means a VIEW OF THE WORLD that a person or a society displays in order to interpret the place where it resides—to make the place accessible or to become familiar with it—anchored in a specific time and at a certain place. The word can also be traced back to the German expression “WELTANSCHAUUNG,” which refers to a range of perceptions, ideas and concepts that a human being has with respect to the world’s existence, reality or constitution. 

Curated by Patricia Watts

     From left to right: Monica Lynne Mahoney, Patricia Watts, and Kate Temple.


Black Light Talk and Tour of Bowman exhibition on April 20th

On April 20th at The Landing gallery in Culver City, Patricia Watts invited astronomy curator Jay Belloli and physicist Dennis Harp to give a black light talk and tour of Richard Bowman's fluorescent paintings of scientific imagery. The selection of twenty works were primarily from the 1970s when the artist was making his Dynamorph series. It was revealed by a family member during the talk that Bowman had indeed held a black light party of several paintings with his students in Palo Alto in the 1970s. This aspect of the work seems intriguing today, however, as a serious student from the Institute of Art in Chicago, and a Bay Area abstract painter, black lighting his work was only experienced on the down low. Many critics got that Bowman was a good painter and this his use of fluorescent pigments was not simply a gimmick, but a provocation of the deeper concepts he was exploring with regard to nuclear physics. It was a great turn out and the audience had lots of questions for Jay and Dennis as they got to know his work through the lens of science rather than art for art sake. Some people felt that they did not like looking at the paintings for very long under the black light, and that it was a relief to enjoy the paintings as they are in daylight, which also changes hues as the light changes throughout the day. Bowman felt that the fluorescent pigments emitted an actual energy, which was confirmed by Harp as fact, if only on a very low frequency. Bowman's work is about making the invisible visible, what artists today are doing to illustrate climate science in aesthetic terms. The artist was definitely ahead of his time, and offers artists today a pioneering take on exploring the sciences through painting.


Richard Bowman: Radiant Abstractions

Richard Bowman: Radiant Abstractions opened February 2nd at The Landing gallery in Culver City (Los Angeles), curated by Patricia Watts. Watts has been working with artists estates in the Bay Area since 2014 and has published a monograph on Bowman (1918-2001), a pioneering artist who decided in the early 1940s, while on a trip to Mexico, that he wanted to paint the elemental relationship between the earth and the cosmos. His first series, called Rock and Sun, was painted in a style inspired by Surrealist painters who resided in Mexico at the time, including Gordon Onslow Ford. He continued this series until 1950 when he became enthralled with early scientific imagery being published, such as cloud chamber photography visualizing the passage of ionizing radiation. He then chose to combine abstract expressionism with scientific exploration. In 1973, Bowman published an article in the MIT peer-reviewed academic journal Leonardo, describing his twenty-three years of "Painting with fluorescent pigments of the Microcosm and Macrocosm." He continued painting these works through the 1990s, for at total of fifty years. Series titles included: Kinetograph, Macromicrocosmos, Kinetogenics, Environs, Dynamorph, and Synthesis. Radiant Abstractions will conclude on April 27, 2019.

 Dynamorph 25, 1968,  acrylic and fluorescent acrylic on canvas,  51x 64 inches, Richard Bowman Estate


Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land review in Artillery magazine

Read a review of  
Moving Off the Land
a performance by Joan Jonas 
at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture
on January 19th
by ecoartspace founder, 
Patricia Watts,  


Field to Palette: Book Release

Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene is an investigation of the cultural meanings, representations, and values of soil in a time of planetary change. The book offers critical reflections on some of the most challenging environmental problems of our time, including groundwater pollution, desertification, and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the book celebrates diverse forms of resilience in the face of such challenges, beginning with its title as a way of honoring locally controlled food production methods championed by "field to plate" movements worldwide. By focusing on concepts of soil functionality, the book weaves together different disciplinary perspectives in a collection of dialogue texts between artists and scientists, interviews by the editors and invited curators, essays and poems by earth scientists and humanities scholars, soil recipes, maps, and DIY experiments. With contributions from over 100 internationally renowned researchers and practitioners, Field to Palette presents a set of visual methodologies and worldviews that expand our understanding of soil and encourage readers to develop their own interpretations of the ground beneath our feet.

Edited by Alexandra Toland, Jay Stratton Noller and Gerd Wessolek. 
Published by CRC Press

ecoartspace was invited by Alexandra Toland to contribute a piece for Field to Palette back in 2014. The book is sectioned by soil function, and included in Function 3 titled Interface: Soil as site of environmental interaction, filtration and transformation is an interview with Mel Chin by founder Patricia Watts, and NYC Director Amy Lipton. Titled Don't Worry, It's Only Mud, the interview includes excerpts from their discussion with Chin in 2015 in the East Village on his soil projects such as Revival Field and Operation Paydirt/The Fundred Dollar Bill. Both Watts and Lipton have curated exhibitions of artists addressing how food is grown, distributed and consumed, many who are included in Field to Palette. Watts recently curated a public art sculpture Cloud House by Matthew Mazzotta, and the exhibition Hybrid Fields in 2006, which included Laura Parker and Matthew Moore, who are both interviewed in the book. Tattfoo Tan and his Black Gold was included in the ecoartspace SOS Action Guide in 2014, a project also featured in the book. Lipton curated FoodSHED: Agriculture and Art in Action in 2014 including Linda Weintraub, one of the book's contributors; It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) in 2013, including Aviva Rahmani, also a contributor; and Jackie Brookner: Of Nature, a retrospective at Wave Hill in 2016, the subject of one of the feature essays in Field to Palette.


Amy Lipton interviews Mary Mattingly and Jean Shin at the Rubin Foundation

On October 17, 2018 Amy Lipton interviewed artists Mary Mattingly and Jean Shin at the Rubin Foundation’s 8th floor gallery as part of the current exhibition Sedimentations: Assemblage as Social Repair

From the Rubin Foundation press release: “The title of the exhibition alludes to the late artist Robert Smithson’s essay “A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects,” in which he associates the shifting of the earth with flows of thought, positing that the “mind and earth are both in a constant state of erosion…ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason.” The featured artists employ strategies of reuse in their art making, incorporating found and repurposed materials, from accumulation and assemblage to the construction of landscapes and discrete objects. The works reference a multitude of timescales and politics. - Sara Reisman

Included in the exhibition is MierleLaderman Ukeles, NYC Sanitation Department Artist in Residence since 1976. The original plan was to interview Ukeles during the exhibition since ecoartspace has been in a conversation with Mierle to include her in our video archive. However, she was unable to attend, so Lipton decided to focus on Ukeles' work in her interview with Mary Mattingly and Jean shin instead. Together they discussed Ukeles art-as-maintenance manifesto and in particular her 1979 performance work “Touch Sanitation,” and her 1983 work “Social Mirror." Lipton also focused the discussion on the viability of such projects that require long term maintenance (site workers, ongoing care, repair, etc.). She asked Mattingly and Shin if maintenance issues also applied to their own work. The answer was a resounding yes. Both artists are based in New York City and have done substantial long-term public art projects, so the lineage from Mierle Ukeles practice is present and influential.

Mary Mattingly founded a floating food forest on a barge in New York called Swale. Lipton had the opportunity to visit Mary aboard Swale before it’s completion in 2016 in Verplanck NY. Now floating on New York’s waterways, this important project is considered a community resource artwork. The barge is 130-by-40-foot and contains a forest garden of edible and medicinal plants, including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, dandelions, stinging nettle, comfrey, chamomile and more. Filtered rainwater and water from New York’s rivers hydrate the plants. Visitors are welcome to come and pick items for free, and are also encouraged to bring food items of their own. It’s illegal to grow public food in public spaces in New York City, so Mattingly keenly moved her project to the water.    

Jean Shin makes site-specific installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community engagement. Her work is distinguished by a labor-intensive process and immersive environments that reflect collective issues that we face as a society. As an accomplished artist practicing in the public realm, she also realizes large-scale, site-specific permanent installations commissioned by major public agencies on the federal level (US General Services Administration) as well as local city and arts for transit programs (New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority and Percent for the Art programs, etc.). Shin recently completed a landmark commission for New York City MTA’s Second Avenue Subway at the 63rd Street station. 

Below are some of the questions Lipton asked Mattingly and Shin during their live interview:

Thinking about the title Sedimentations, my thoughts are about geologic time and the larger picture regarding our eco system and its potential healing. How do you think about sedimentations?

How do you see your work in regards to the exhibition title of “social repair”? Is working with community an important part of social repair for each of you?

Regarding issues of re-use and waste in your artwork, -what really is waste when it comes to food, as opposed to mining and resource extraction? 

How working collaboratively with community transforms waste from commodities into art and consciousness raising?

A video recording of this interview will soon be available as part of the ongoing ecoartspace  interview archive. See HERE

From Left to Right: Jean Shin, Amy Lipton, Mary Mattingly and Sara Reisman


ecoartspace video archive

Over the last decade, ecoartspace has captured twenty-eight video interviews with pioneering artists who address environmental issues through the visual arts. The first interview took place in Delhi, India, with ecological artist Mary Miss, who was there to create a site-work in a historic park. ecoartspace founder, Patricia Watts, who was also in Delhi presenting a paper at the 48c symposium, invited Miss to do an interview while they sat amidst her artwork Roshanara's Net, a temporary garden of medicinal plants—ayurvedic herbs, trees and bushes. The following year, in 2009, Watts interviewed three more artists who were included in her show Terrior at the Marin French Cheese Factory in Petaluma, California including Mark Brest van Kempen, Judith Selby Lang, and Philip Krohn. The following year in 2010, Watts interviewed New York artist's Christy Rupp and Jackie Brookner; Amy Lipton interviewed Patricia Johanson. In 2011, while traveling in New Mexico, Watts interviewed Dominique Mazeaud and Chrissie Orr. In 2012, Watts interviewed Susan Liebovitz Steinman in Berkeley and Bonnie Sherk in San Francisco. She also flew up to Seattle that same year to interview Buster Simpson and Beverly Naidus. And, Amy Lipton interviewed Betsy Damon in New York. In 2015, in the East Village, New York Watts and Lipton interviewed Mel Chin on his work with soils for the upcoming publication Field to Palette. And, in 2017, Watts went on a cross country driving trip and interviewed Roy Staab in Wisconsin, Billy Curmano in Minnesota, Frances Whitehead in Ohio, Basia Irland in New Mexico, Kim Abeles and Sant Khalsa in California, and flew to Philadelphia to interview Diane Burko. This year, Watts had the opportunity to go abroad and interviewed Ruri in Iceland, and Tim Collins and Reiko Goto in Scotland. Over the summer Watts also interviewed Mags Harries and Lajo Heder in Boston; and, this fall Amy Lipton interviewed Mary Mattingly and Jean Shin in New York.

These interviews are approximately two hours in length and cover information on the artists youth, inspirations, education, mentors, and summaries of all their major projects. They can be made available for research upon request and are also available to be edited for special exhibitions for a fee.

Edited video excerpts with Patricia Johanson, Jackie Brookner, Buster Simpson, Bonnie Sherk, and Diane Burko can be viewed online via Youtube HERE.