Announcements, news, etc....

We have had a busy past few weeks (and months). Ecologic, Terroir, Habitat for Artists and Out of the Blue, have all opened since January. This week I've had a little bit of down time while working on ecoartspace NYC benefit ideas (stay tuned for more info about this) and wanted to plug some other interesting people, current events, art and ecology related activities.

Artist and eco educator
Christopher Kennedy has started a new organization, Artiscycle. This is a project to further an understanding of the role of art in building community, creative problem solving and situated learning. The idea according to Kennedy, "is to connect artists and citizens at the forefront of collaborative and interdisciplinary art practice to collaborative education and project development tools and motivate a new way of thinking about art as a tool for creative problem solving and learning." The Artiscycle project will launch an online database of effective aesthetic and community-based practices meant to identify the strategies and frameworks that engage communities and allow for situated learning opportunities to form. More than this, Artiscycle is a blueprint for a physical learning and project-incubation space that will provide a variety of services for artists, educators and citizens.

ecoartspace advisor Pamela Tucker has joined the team at Brighter Planet. The mission of Brighter Planet is to “help individuals take charge in the fight against global warming and build a clean-energy future" through education, conservation and carbon offsetting programs. Pamela is working on Brighter Schools, a program uniquely designed to help schools and their communities take action against global warming through the purchase of carbon offsets.

Once a school enrolls, all school members -- their friends and family -- join the school "team" and earn fundraising dollars for the school through their purchases of carbon offsets or by signing up for a Brighter Planet VISA card. In short, people buy carbon offsets to their carbon emissions as investments in alternative energy. Brighter Planet has been offering offset "packages," such as offsets for air travel, events, driving, etc. For Brighter Schools, they are going to design unique packages that will appeal and resonate with kids -- such as an offset for the bus travel on field trips, or an offset for driving to away sports games. The school will earn 20% of the total dollar amount of offsets purchased by members of its team. To find out more about Brighter Schools program contact: Pamela@brighterplanet.com

Dorsky Museum Curator, Brian Wallace is planning an exhibition titled Eco-Tones and Transition Zones opening June 13th and has put out a call to mid-Hudson Valley artists, deadline April 17th. The exhibition will feature artwork, information, presentations, activities, and other projects that will connect global issues such as sustainability, ecological awareness, and bioethics to our immediate surroundings.

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz hosts an annual exhibition of work by emerging and mid-career artists from the region. This year, some artists will seek local partners involved in sustainable initiatives, ecologically engaged businesses, and green projects that connect communities. If you would like to add your name/contact/projects to a list the museum will share with exhibiting artists, please send this information via mail to sdma@newpaltz.edu by April 17, 2009.

My neighbor and friend
Suzie Gilbert has written a memoir titled Flyaway, How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found her Wings. Flyaway chronicles the years of Suzie's chaotic household turned into a bird-hospital, recounting the confusion that ensued as her husband and two young children struggled to live in a house where parrots shrieked Motown songs, nestling robins required food every twenty minutes, and recuperating herons took over the spare bathroom. Gradually, however, the birds came to represent the value of compassion and the importance of pursuing even the most unlikely of dreams. Coincidentally (or maybe not), the very same MNN network that interviewed me last month about ecoartspace met with Suzie and interviewed her about the new book. Also, see some images posted by Suzie on Wild About Pets. I sometimes need to remind myself that I moved up to the Hudson Valley for a reason - getting to know amazing people like Suzie Gilbert is one of them.

Washington state based eco artist, writer and educator Beverly Naidus
will come to Earth Dance Seed Festival in MA this June to offer a week long course, Eco Art for Everyday Life. Participants will explore different ways of incorporating eco-art practices into their everyday life and their communities. They will discuss some of the ecological issues facing us both on the local and global level, look at the work of contemporary eco-artists, and develop some collaborative site-specific projects. Also, check out Beverly's new book, Arts for Change: Teaching Outside the Frame published by New Village Press.

Author and the annual Bioneers Conference co- organizer and producer,
J.P. Harpignies has a new book out: Delusions of Normality: Sanity, Drugs, Sex, Money and Beliefs in America. "What do we mean when we say someone or something is normal?" In his new book, Delusions of Normality, J.P. marshals considerable evidence to persuasively argue that we Americans are collectively far less mentally stable, far more corruptible or financially irrational, in our beliefs than we generally admit, and that a great many of the unspoken assumptions that underlie our media's discourse are seriously at odds with the reality of people's lives and ideas. Read a review of the book by Erik Davis here. J.P. will be giving a talk about the book with Q+A and discussion on: Friday, April 24th, 7:30pm at the New York Open Center, 83 Spring Street, (212 219-2527, ext Admittance: $18 for Open Center members; $20 general. This evening will offer a bracing but refreshing and entertaining look at some dark corners of American life, providing a corrective lens to our rose-colored myopia about how we really behave. Previous books by J.P. include, Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World; Political Ecosystems: Modernity, Complexity, Fluidity and the Eco-Left; Ecological Medicine: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves (The Bioneers Series) and Double Helix Hubris: Against Designer Genes.

Artist Eve Mosher's Seeding the City project is set to launch late in summer '09 after nearly two years of planning. Eve invites everyone to join her while she's out planting green roofs around New York City. Seeding the City is a neighbor-to-neighbor referral program that gets small green roof modules installed in neighborhoods around the city. ecoartspace included Eve Mosher in the E.P.A exhibition at Exit Art in 2008 with her High Water Line project and she was the featured artist on the Human Nature series panel during the exhibition. We look forward to our continued working relationship with Eve.

Miami based artist Xavier Cortada will participate in an upcoming exhibition,
AntARcTica, Collected Works from the Bottom of the World at the Maryland Science Center sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Antarctica's Artists and Writers Program. Cortada has also embarked upon making an endangered animal drawing every day in 2009, from each of Earth's 360°. He is using Facebook and uploading each daily drawing to his profile image. Via this social networking site, he aims to show the ultimate interconnection: What endangers one species affects all, including our own.

More to come soon on the upcoming ecoartspace NYC benefit art sale, but it looks as though all submissions from artists will be digital and in that way will contribute to an online database of images for an ecoartspace archive. Great idea thanks to benefit committee advisor and pal Joy Garnett!


Terroir at the Cheese Factory, Northern California

Finding a venue for both indoor and outdoor art installations, where foot traffic is high, is an art and nature curator's dream. Last fall, a start up organization called Art at the Cheese Factory, invited me to guest curator the inaugural show at an historic cheese factory in Marin County, 45 minutes North of the Golden Gate Bridge. When I found out that foot traffic at the Marin Cheese Factory is 150,000 visitors a year, my immediate response was "lets do it." I cannot tell you how many times I have organized group shows, working with over twenty artists, and then have 2,000 people actually come see the show during a two month viewing. It is so much work that I often wonder to myself "why do I do this?" After curating Hybrid Fields in 2006, in Sonoma County, I realized that art and agriculture, combined, are a regional favorite that captures the interest of both foodies and art lovers. Here where happy cows, goats, and sheep roam the hillsides, and vineyards abound, the real challenge has been engaging a culture of mostly landscape painters and object makers in a dialogue on the role that contemporary art can play in expanding the conversations on land and aesthetics. Not that there isn't an audience that can have this type of conversation, it has mostly been a resistance to what is perceived as an urban or "city" conversation. During a visit to the UK a little over a year ago, what intrigued me was the commitment by the government to support not only the arts in rural areas, but to also raise the level of conversation about the role rural populations play in the larger culture. It is almost as if the artist has been sent from the Art World to acknowledge what remains of the rural lifestyle that existed say in the 1950s and 60s. And, then there is the history of the place that intrigues the artist. Who lived there and why, their stories. These rich remains in rural areas are savored by artists.

Terroir: A Sense of Place is an exhibition of 28 artists from the Bay Area who through paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, and performative events offer their take on a relationship with soil, air, and water; all the elements that make up our watersheds, ecosystems, and local environment.

For more information go to the exhibition blog at http://artatthecheesefactory.blogspot.com


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


Report from CAA 2009, Los Angeles

This was my fourth College Art Association conference over a ten year period. My first being in Los Angeles in 1999. Not only did I attend that year because I lived in LA at the time, I was also interested to attend a studio session entitled Off the Mainstream, Into The Mainstream. The session included three chairs and nine artists presenting the state of environmental art from the 1990s, including mostly artists from California. This was the panel that set me on course to participate in an ecoart dialogue listerve online for the last ten years.

Ten years later, CAA 2009, was once again in LA, although this time there were several panels that crossed over into the realm of science or ecology including:
Proof: Art Illuminating Science with artists Lillian Ball and Aviva Rahmani; Green Foundations: Curricular and Environmental Sustainability with Linda Weintraub; Place Markers: Artists, Technology, and Landscape; The Ecological Imagination: From Land Art to BioArt; and Land Use in Contemporary Art, Part I & II.

Since I lived in Los Angeles for more than twenty years, I decided this CAA to propose a paper for the Land Art panel to present examples of artists working outdoors in Southern California from 1999-2008. I focused on work that was least invasive and noted a progression of a land ethic by artists who were in the following exhibitions: Malibu Art Ranch 1997; SaFARi at the Old LA Zoo 1998; Escondido Phoenix 1999; Newtown Trail Markers 2001; Earthworks NOW Biennial 2003/5; HDTS 2001-2008; and MOISTURE 2001-2008. Other panelists included Kimberly Paice from University of Cincinnati who gave a talk “On Wheat” that mostly focused on Agnes Denes' Wheatfield: A Confrontation. She also presented Dennis Oppenheim's’ field work “Cancelled Crop” and “Directed Seeding” both from 1969. Chris Taylor, co-creator of Land Arts of the American West, a program operating from Texas and University of New Mexico, presented a visual diary of a caravan road trip he took with students to cultural sites and earth/land art sites in the desert Southwest over a two month period in one semester. They create ephemeral work on the land and return to the campus to create work for a gallery exhibition. Ann Wolfe with the Nevada Museum of Art gave a paper on Chris Drury and his Mushroom work they recently comissioned him to do. The Museum sponsored the Art+Environment conference in Reno last fall where Ann also gave a presentation. Her emphasis was that the Museum in Reno is the first of its kind to make Art+Environment its curatorial thematic. She also announced that the Director of the program, William Fox, has begun to create an archive of ephemera related to projects created in and near Nevada in the desert (Heizer/deMaria).

Land Art is a term that mostly refers to a movement from the 1970s, large-scale or monumental earth art, meant to be seen from far away. You often hear this term from Europe, particularly from the UK, to describe earth art, smaller works in the landscape, even ephemeral. However, after this panel, I believe there was some consensus that Land Art is a historical term referring to work created in the desert Southwest and does not define the type of work being done today. Panel Chair Kirsten Swenson referred to this new work as a Land-based Art Practice. And, from there, the medium is the message. As we know, there is still plop art happening (even at High Desert Test Sites). And, much of the art that is created outdoors is simply using nature as a gallery or cheap studio space. The real trick is to work with the land but not impact it, thus the title of my talk
Land Ethics:Post Land Art. Some better examples of this would include audio tour projects like Invisible 5 & Jack Rabbit Homestead by Kim Stringfellow, or more urban/rural dialogic/relational mapping/tour projects like Fallen Fruit or LA Urban Rangers.

Or, how about Bruce Nauman's proposal for a sky writing in 1969 entitled "Leave the Land Alone." This is a work I only found out about in the inaugural issue of Mammut magazine (Fall 2008), in an article with the same title written by Andrew Bernardini. He stated that this was Nauman's response written in a letter to a gallery who invited him to participate in an earth art exhibition. The work was never realized and the letter has not been found. This sounds like a perfect project for the Center for Land Use (CLUI) to execute with Nauman, in the clear blue skies of Nevada?

MNN.com interview with Amy online