48°C Public.Art.Ecology

On December 13th and 14th, Tricia Watts of ecoartspace will participate in a symposium as part of the 48°C Public.Art.Ecology Festival in New Delhi, India. This event is a combined initiative of Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan and GTZ, an experiment set within the capital metropolitan city of Delhi. The ambition of this project is to interrogate the teetering ecology of the city through the prism of contemporary art. Through a number of art interventions in various public spaces around Delhi, the festival attempts to draw a diverse public into the world of this critical imaginary. WATCH FOR MORE TO COME ABOUT THIS EVENT.


The Relevance of Art in an Age of Global Warming

On Saturday, October 11, Amy was a panelist on “The Relevance of Art in an 
Age of Global Warming” at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA. The panel was sponsored by Philadelphia Sculptors and the participants were Amy Lipton, Andrew Chartier, Andrea Polli, Ben Pinder 
and Stacy Levy. The panel discussion was moderated by Canadian environmental arts writer John Grande who has written numerous books on the relationship of artists to nature and landscape such as “Balance: Art and Nature” (a newly expanded edition by Black Rose Books in, 2004), “Intertwining: Landscape, Technology, Issues, Artists” and his most recent book, “Dialogues in Diversity: Marginal to Mainstream” published in Italy in 2007 by Pari Publishing.

This panel had four artist presenters, each whose work involved very different processes and formal strategies. Amy presented the work of New York artist Eve Mosher and showed a documentary film on her project High Water Line. HighWaterLine was a visual and perfomance artwork which took place on the New York city waterfront and created an immediate visual and local understanding of the affects of climate change. Eve marked the 10-feet above sea level line by drawing a blue chalk line and installing illuminated beacons along that line in public parks. The line marks the extent of increased flooding brought on by stronger and more frequent storms as a result of climate change. During the summer of 2007, Eve walked, chalked and marked almost 70 miles of coastline. She was out in the public creating the work, and had conversations with community members and passers by about climate change and its potential impacts.

Andrew Chartier, a Canadian artist in the corresponding exhibition Global Warming at the Ice Box presented a documentary film on his performance which involved standing outdoors at the intersection of busy Philadelphia streets wearing a haz-mat worker suit and operating a machine composed of various metal parts including a bicycle wheel, called the “Dioxigrapher”. Unassuming in his garb and methodically, Chartier walks his gadget into traffic and holds it up to the exhaust pipes of cars sitting idling at stoplights. This humorous sucking action seemed almost pornographic and gave the viewer a feeling of being part of a surveillance system. After sucking up car fumes, the Dioxigrapher becomes activated and draws chalk circles on the street near the cars. This work had an uncanny relationship to Mosher’s High Water Line, though these two artists had no previous knowledge of one another. This proves that artists in very different parts of the world are thinking similarly in terms of artworks that engage the public directly to think about their day to day lives and the impact climate change may have on them.

Andrea Polli presented sound, images, film, graphs and charts from her recent National Science Foundation funded residency in Antartica. Polli’s new work, Sonic Antarctica is a series of natural and technological sound recordings and sonifications made by artists, scientists and sound enthusiasts who have lived in Antarctica.

"When most people picture Antarctica, on the few occasions that they even think about that frozen continent, they probably think of a bare, eerily silent, and unforgivable landscape. Andrea Polli, on the other hand, pictures a land of mystery and sound as well as a saving grace for atmospheric scientists all over the world... As multiple projectors and television screens played footage of the Antarctic landscape and the scientists working in such a landscape, Polli played audio clips that illustrate the unusual sort of soundscape that can be found in such a locale”.

Ben Pinder, also in the exhibition Global Warming at the Ice Box is a recent MFA graduate from Pratt Institute. Pinder took a humorous approach with his performance titled The New Manifest Destiny, The Conquest of Antarctica, How Global Warming can be Good for America. This presentation was performed in the tongue-in-cheek style of the Colbert Report and had Pinder promoting, “A New America, 2048,” where Antarctica is turned into a super productive resource rich commodity producing continent, claimed and developed by the U.S. as a “positive” result of Global Warming’s effect.

Stacy Levy presented images of her various public projects and exhibitions and spoke about her abiding interest in the natural world. All of her works combine art and science. They become a vehicle for translating the patterns and processes of the natural world into the language of human understanding. “I try to design a project so that the site tells the ecological story of itself. In my work, I mesh the clarity of diagrams, the beauty of natural forms and the visceral sense of the site. My art creates a comprehensible visual metaphor for an otherwise invisible natural process.” Levy works extensively with engineers, architects and landscape architects on most of her public projects. She frequently collaborates with scientists who are experts in the particular aspect of nature she’s investigating.

A DVD of the panel discussion "The Relevance of Art in an Age of Global Warming" is available for purchase. Please contact lesliekaufman@verizon.net

Click HERE for a review of the Ice Box exhibition.


40°, 73° Brooklyn, New York

On October 5th, Amy participated in a panel discussion at the Canary Project in Brooklyn. The event was titled 40°, 73°: WORKS AT THE INTERSECTION OF ART & ECOLOGY and the selection was juried by Tricia Watts of ecoartspace, Nathan Elbogen, Director of XO Project, Marisa Jahn, artist and co-founder of Pond: art, activism and ideas, Jeffrey Kastner editor at Cabinet Magazine and Ed Morris founder of the Canary Project.

The panel discussion included, Amy Lipton of ecoartspace, artists Charles Goldman and Paul Benney discussing their public fountain project, Adopt-le-Font, Andrea Williams from The New York Society for Acoustic Ecology (NYSAE) and Tom Angotti, Director, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development. A film was screened of Benoît Maubrey’s One Week in the Life of a Solar Ballerina. Ed Morris from the Canary Project moderated the discussion.

What became clear in the presentation and following discussion was the connecting thread of sound in all three public projects. Though he was not mentioned publicly, John Cage was clearly the historical antecedent to these projects, most particularly in NYSAE’s “Sound Walks”, hour-long walks throughout various places in Brooklyn where participants can listen to the environment and become aware of of the immediate surroundings. Audience members who had been on the sound walks spoke about their experience in terms of how relaxing and slowed down time became, how they enjoyed the quiet sounds of weather and crickets and how unusual this was in a normally noisy urban environment. Tom Angotti spoke about sound in terms of noise pollution due to a lack of regulation and enforcement in NYC. In extreme contrast to this were Benoit Maubrey’s Solar Ballerinas. Though effective as social sculpture and aesthetically interesting and visually provocative, the sound effects produced little more than irritating noise. The audience seemed anxious for the noise to end. How much more effective this performance would have been, if the sound produced literally reflected real sounds of the natural environment and drew a connection to this artist’s innovative use of solar cells mounted on plastic tutus. Instead it was sonic feedback. Most interesting and effective were Goldman and Benney’s fountains. These works brought focus to recycling by using every day consumer industrial materials, stacked 5-gallon plastic buckets with tubing and water. The fountains set up on the Brooklyn street in front of their respective adoptee’s homes, create a temporary commons and social space for dialogue, engagement and entertainment. The fountain’s adoptee becomes an active steward whose performance or maintenance sustains the project. I spoke with Goldman briefly about the project’s continuing life and the possibility of longer- term adoptions. Stay tuned to hear more about that.


Art & Ecology Summit, San Francisco

ecoartspace is currently preparing for a gathering of art and ecology galleries, nonprofits, collaboratives in the form of a summit to take place at the Exploratorium in San Francisco on October 10th at 6pm. It seems there are so many of us working to do ecoart programming, and many of us searching to find funding for these activities, that we decided it was time to come together and see what we can learn from each other.

ecoartspace will celebrate its tenth year as a nonprofit in 2009. Greenmuseum has been operating from Corte Madera since 2001. And, since 2004, Mia Hanek has been developing the Natural World Museum out of San Francisco. Probably the oldest ecoart organization in the Bay Area is WEAD, the Women's Environmental Art Directory, founded by Susan Leibovitz Steinman and Jo Hanson back in the 1990s. More recently, Southern Exposure, an alternative space in the Mission District, has focused on ecological subjects as well. And, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will soon open "The Gatherers" on October 31st.

The impetus fo rthis event was artist Shai Zakai, founder of the Ecoart Forum in Israel, who is coming to San Francisco as part of a visit to the states for an exhibition entitled Global Warming at the Icebox in Philadelphia, which opened last week. If your in the area, please come participate in this discussion. With the election around the corner, and the ongoing economic crisis, we need to pull together to come up with the most creative work yet!



UPDATED 12-30-2019

ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 500 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and a series of ACTION Guides of replicable social practice public art projects for educators. Patricia Watts is founder and westcoast/midwest curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC.

Patricia Watts has researched art and nature practitioners since 1990. She has participated as panelist at numerous conferences and has given lectures at art departments internationally. Watts recently curated Richard Bowman: Radiant Abstractions at The Landing gallery in LA (2019). Other important exhibitions include Enchantment at Peter Strauss Ranch (2016) in Agoura Hills, CA; FiberSHED (2015) and Transmissions (2013) at the Marin Community Foundation in Novato, CA; and Shifting Baselines at Santa Fe Art Institute (2013). From 2015-16 she projected managed a public artwork in Springfield, Missouri titled Cloud House, created by Matthew Mazzotta for Farmers Park. Watts was Chief Curator at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, CA (2005-2008). She received her MA in Exhibition Design/Museum Studies from California State University, Fullerton, and has a BA in Business Administration from Stephens College, Missouri.

Contact: tricia@ecoartspace.org  PO Box 5211, Santa Fe, NM USA 87502 310.704.2395

Amy Lipton is curator and east coast director of ecoartspace. She has collaborated with hundreds of artists and partnered with arts and environmental organizations to produce exhibitions, public artworks, programs and events. Lipton has organized numerous exhibitions for museums, galleries, sculpture parks, universities, environmental centers and in the public realm. She writes essays for books, newspapers and art publications; organizes panel discussions, and lectures on art and its relationship to the natural environment. Lipton’s most recent exhibition was Jackie Brookner: Of Nature, a retrospective at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2016). She was the owner/director of Amy Lipton Gallery in New York City from 1986 – 1996. Lipton has a BFA from California Institute of the Arts.

Contact: amy@ecoartspace.org  Peekskill, New York USA  917.743.8275