Recent talks and presentations

On Saturday April 25th Chris Neidl of Solar One gave a presentation at ecoartspace NYC on solar energy. His talk focused on NYC and why the outer boroughs (in particular Queens and L.I.C.) pose a good prospect for solar panels (PV), providing many flat rooftops that are not shaded by tall buildings. His comprehensive lecture explained the current energy situation in NY in terms of the history of power plants, the energy grid structure, why NYC is susceptible to power failures and why solar energy could mitigate many of the existing problems. Energy use skyrockets in NYC during peak summer usage (prolonged hours of A/C use) which is not coincidentally the same time period that solar panels would kick in to provide the most benefit. Chris also discussed current energy legislation in NY State, how we as individuals can influence policy decisions (get active), cost benefit analysis/financial incentives for PV use and comparisons to other countries (Germany, Japan, Spain, Italy in that order) and U.S. states most using solar power (CA, AZ, NJ, NY). Not surprisingly in states where conventional power is cheapest - the incentive for using solar power is low, but NY State has the highest electricity costs in the country by a long shot.

On April 16th, along with co-curator and artist Joy Episalla, I gave a gallery tour of the "out of the blue" exhibition at Bergen College to a large group of art department students. The exhibition's focus was on weather, atmosphere and geological conditions, both literally and metaphorically. We discussed the idea of how artists create their own weather conditions and even "storms" in terms of their influence upon one another individually and as a group such as in this exhibition. While walking around the gallery during the tour, I pointed out some uncanny relationships between the art works that were mostly unintentional. I mentioned that without seeing their works at the same time in this show, I would not have realized before the possible influence of Robert Smithson on Felix Gonzales Torres for example, but Smithson's photograph of "Glue Pour" 1970 and Gonzales-Torres bright blue candy wrappers on the floor, Untitled, (Revenge) 1991, begged comparison in terms of ideas related to fluidity, entropy and erosion over time.

On April 6th, I was on a panel at the University of Albany Art Museum in conjunction with Jason Middlebrook's exhibition and installation , Live with Less which explores the relationship between nature and human consumption.

Middlebrook who make paintings, drawings, sculpture, and outdoor public works often uses recyclable materials to draw attention to larger social issues. Live with Less is an expression of Middlebrook’s artistic and environmental goal to see beyond the discarded nature of these materials and to re-imagine them as something beautiful and useful. He literally brings wastefulness and the over consumption of contemporary living to new heights in a massive 35-foot tower made from several tons of recycled cardboard. The cardboard, collected on campus over a two-month period, was stacked and layered from floor to ceiling creating visual stratifications analogous to the layers of a landfill.

The panel discussion titled, Responsive Art: Making Work in the Environment was moderated by Rebecca Wolff, editor at Fence Books and also included Jason Middlebrook and critic/poet Francis Richard who writes for Cabinet and Artforum. Richard also organized an exhibition and accompanying monograph titled Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates.” I spoke about the fact that as a former sculpture park director and curator I’ve worked with many artists on site specific works outdoors, but one thing that is often not addressed by artists and art institutions is maintenance and long term care. As mundane as this might sound it’s really a very important component of making site specific work that isn't taken into consideration. What happens to the work 2 weeks or 6 months or 6 years later? What are the effects on the art of weather over time and has that been considered?

Since Francis Richard is a scholar on the work of Gordon Matta Clark we spoke quite a bit about his work and how today it would be difficult if not impossible to do his urban based interventions in abandoned buildings in U.S cities. We also spoke at great length about Robert Smithson. I stated that generally speaking Land and Earthworks artists in the 1970’s were not what we today call “site-sensitive” - meaning they worked in remote and vast stretches of open space with land-moving equipment, bulldozers, etc... with little or no regard to the natural environment. Contemporary artists working outdoors today are usually more respectful of the natural world and take into account the attention and sensitivity that is needed when making an artwork on the land.

Lastly – I mentioned that not all artists are well suited to working outdoors, site-specifically (and don’t have to be) - but working with Jason Middlebrook last summer at Art Omi was one of my better experiences. Unlike many artists who came for the day, having created their works off site in the studio and then placed them in the woods - Jason spent time looking, and searched out the right site which nature graciously provided him with. He found a fallen tree suspended in the pond. Jason worked on site for 2 weeks, planed the tree in half, created a painted bench complete with binoculars for viewing aquatic life and a stairway out of the wood for easy access to reach the pond.

On Weds April 29th, I attended a lecture by Neal R. Peirce hosted by The Trust for Public Land. Peirce spoke eloquently about his new book, Century of the City, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. By 2050, the United Nations projects, almost three-quarters of the world's population will call urban areas home. To help manage and plan for this accelerating urbanization, the Rockefeller Foundation convened an exceptional group of urbanists--leading policy makers and government officials, finance experts, and urban researchers for a Global Urban Summit at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. This book shares their diverse perspectives, creative approaches, and urgent agenda for harnessing the vast opportunities of urbanization for a better world.


Rising Tide Conference REPORT

I was only able to attend one day of the three day conference last weekend in the Bay Area. Entitled Rising Tide, organized by Kim Anno, and jointly hosted by California College of the Arts, San Francisco, and Stanford University, there was a diverse mix of planning, art history, contemporary art, and design/technology.

A few highlights from the early morning session entitled Remaking/Reconceiving
: I learned about Form Based Zoning Codes where the public participates in a greater way to decide what goes where in communities/cities. And, I was reminded by Amy Franceschini of the great work by former Super Mayor of Bogata, Enrique Penalosa, who encouraged performance based transformations in sustainability (like using mimes to direct traffic). Here is a short video on his vision for NYC presented last summer:

In the next session,
Bonnie Sherk (creator of T
he Farm), moderated a panel called Material Culture Sustainability. Panel description: What are new materials that artists/designer/architects are experimenting with? What materials have impacts on which industries? Where are the holes in research? What is sustainable business? How is culture sustainable? Stephanie Syjuco presented her Counterfeit Crochet handbags; Lynda Grose presented the work of young designers doing Slow Fashion in her program at Sustainable Fashion Design program at CAA. And, Banny Bannerjee, Director of the Stanford Design program, talked about how human's are always trying to defy nature, stretch its limits, mimic nature, refer to nature, flirt with nature, evoke nature. He had a great saying: Doing Things Right, Doing the Right Things.

After lunch we got a dose of "Green Capitalism" with Amy Berk presenting her work TWCDC (Together We Can Defeat Capitalism). She showed several projects where they used signage to express anti-capitalist views like a road sign that said "Stock Market Crash Ahead" from 2000; "Capitalism Stops at Nothi
ng" at a BART Station; and STOP BUS(H) in the bus lane in Oakland. She also presented her work bed-in-for-peace project, which she conceived in 2001 in Australia (based on Yoko Ono and John Lennon's performance). Basically her position was that true revolution is guided by true feelings of LOVE . . . . . and she proves this by driving around San Francisco in a "FRYBRID" car that runs on moonshine and represents the ethos of Marx (Capitalist production only develops the social process of production by simultaneously underminding the original process of all wealth, the soil and the worker). Next on this panel was Simon Sadler who made some great links with Steward Brand/Whole Earth Catalogue, Buckminster Fuller (design is a scientific study not an aesthetic one), and "soft tech" (the limits to growth, and small is beautiful).

In the following session entitled Futures, Amy Balkin gave a beautiful presentation on her Air Park project. She outlined how she researched carbon credits and set up her work,
presenting basically signage about her conceptual dealings around who owns the air. A description of the project: Public Smog is a public park in the atmosphere that fluctuates in location and scale. Built through financial, legal, or political activities, Public Smog is subject to prevailing winds and the long-range transport of aerosols and gases. When built through the economic mechanism of emissions trading, the park opens above the region where offsets are purchased and withheld from use. Public Smog first opened briefly to the public during 2004 above California's South Coast Air Quality Management District, and was open over the European Union through 2008. Balkin is now working on opening the park again in West Africa.

In the final panel of the day Shelia Kennedy showed her portable light project, which is going to receive a big award in May (she couldn't tell us which), maybe the Fuller Challenge? and David Buuck shared about his project on Treasure Island in San Francisco, a tour called "Barge" looking at the paranoid landscapes of post industrial real estate.

There was a great gathering of people and it was a pleasure to finally meet Ian Garrett and see Miranda Wright again, both from Los Angeles with the Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts who drove up for the conference.

For those of you who attended Friday and Sunday's presentations
, please comment and fill us in.


Blogger Beach Plastic said...

After Sheila Kennedy’s inspiring keynote, conference attendees proceeded to the Cummings Art Building for an opening reception for “Disposable Truths”, an art exhibition by Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, a collaborative team, who combine their love of nature with their interest in science to produce an on-going series of art works about the oceans and the environment. Since 1999 they have been collecting beach plastic from Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore then shaping it into artworks and installations. From that one beach they have collected almost 2 tons of plastic, which has washed ashore from as far away as Asia and as close to home as the San Francisco Bay.

For the Rising Tide Conference, to demonstrate the ubiquity of plastic waste in our oceans, they configured their collection of plastic detritus into a series of prints that represent the aesthetic strategy of counting and categories.

There was also a “living room” arrangement with a chair, table, and lamp covered with beach plastic. On the floor was a square of white beach plastic with a hula-hoop rug with multi-colored plastic.

National Geographic’s new blog featured their Rising Tide exhibition as their lead Earth Day story. http://blogs.ngm.com/blog_central/2009/04/these-sculptures-are-all-washed-up.html#more

April 26, 2009 7:51 PM

Email from Aline Mare: Sunday April 19th, 2009

Sunday's presentations were quite inspiring. Alberto Moreno from the
Seri Tribe of Mexico directs a sustainable indigenous aquaculture
project in partnership with the Comcaac Nation and was an incredibly
articulate advocate for his tribe's inspired attempt to bridge their
relation to the sea that surrounds their environment, working with
mussels, oysters and active attempts to protect the endangered turtles
sea turtles of Mexico.

Robert Dawson, a well known local, whose wonderful photographs take a
hard look at the West's relationship to water was deep and poignant in
his presentation which included world wide visions of humankind's
changing connections to an ecology, shot while traveling through Viet
Nam and India.

Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang presented together and they
described their collaborative process as an alchemical one of making
dross into gold. Making art of trash they have found and categorized
over ten years from Kehoe Beach in Pt Reyes has become a shared
passion, which they shared with a witty humor mixed with political
environmental wisdom

Kim Anno's closing speech rounded up the many disparate elements and
voices of the past several days to a shared voice of passion and

All in all it was a deep and meaningful morning- albeit in a dark room
on an unbelievable beautiful day!

Brief update

This is the first time since back in November/December that we have not posted anything for a couple weeks. I think both Amy and I are taking a spring time break . . . .

Wanted to submit a quick post to let our blog followers know that we have updated our projects page on the ecoartspace website. We realize that the more active we are with the blog, that our website becomes less relevant. So, it is now up to speed. This is an ongoing issue and why we really enjoy having the blog (as we rely on someone else to update the website).

O'yes NEWSFLASH: our ecoartspace Facebook group reached 1,000 today!!! And, we have added a fan page as well and are posting links daily, like a Twitter feed. Plus, we are also on Twitter. So, if you want quick byte size morsels of information/links, sign up to follow ecoartspace through our fan page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

Amy will be posting soon on a recent panel she participated on in upstate New York with Jason Middlebrook and I plan to write up a summary of the Rising Tides conference I attend last week here in the Bay Area next.

See our new projects page on the ecoartspace website at http://www.ecoartspace.org/projectsinline.html

There really is an overwhelming amount of activity right now in the world of art and ecology. It has been an exciting Earth Day week.


Solar One Gives Presentation at ecoartspace NYC

On Saturday, April 25th at 6:30 join ecoartspace in NYC to hear the "I Heart PV" presentation by Christopher Neidl from Solar One. Christopher will give an overview of why solar photovolatics (PV) are a good fit for NYC and the types of policies that the state and city can pursue in order to grow solar's contribution to our energy mix over time.

Launched by Solar One in 2008, "I Heart PV" is a people powered campaign that mobilizes citizen support for pro-solar policies and educates New Yorkers about the potential and benefits of solar power here in the five boroughs.

The Habitat for Artists project will continue this summer at Solar One's City Sol Festival at Stuyvesant Cove Park at 23rd Street and the East River, stay tuned for more info.

Saturday April 25th at 6:30 pm at ecoartspace, 53 Mercer Street, 3rd Fl. NYC