ISEA 2011 Istanbul, Turkey

This post is long over due by a couple months! To summarize, ecoartspace was invited to speak at the International Society of Electronic Arts or ISEA 2011 symposium in Istanbul in September on a panel called Public Art in the Sustainable City by Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry from Dubai who also recently invited us to be jurors on the upcoming Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Freshkills Park (the former Fresh Kills landfill) in Staten Island. Other panelists included Glen Lowry who presented a project he is working on with a large team of architects and artists linking Dubai and Vancouver; and Nacho Zamora from Spain gave a talk about Solar Artworks. ecoartspace presented examples of sustainable public art projects in North America including references for developing public art master plans that focus on ecological systems, much of what was posted HERE on the ecoartspace blog back in May 2011. It was a very productive trip and was made possible through supporters who donated money for artworks via IndieGoGo (Take Me To Constantinople). Patricia Watts kept a personal blog of her journey which you can read HERE.

We also had the opportunity to meet two Turkish artists suggested to us that are doing video work addressing environmental issues, Ethem Özgüven and Genco G├╝lan. Özgüven has directed short films, videoart and documentaries since 1986 and currently teaches students at Istanbul's Bilgi University how to harness media for environmental education.

Below is Genco's "Shopping Water" video, a conceptual post-apocalyptic under-water world.

Synopsis: Shopping Water is a fairy tale prophesizing capitalisms deliterious effects on global warming. Woman (Katherine Müller) finds herself in an ancient sunken city (Myndos) while shopping for bottled water. The installation points out that, if we continue along our current path of comsumption, we might all need to learn to live underwater.


TURF: Ecological activism and Art

Through December 1st at Diablo Valley College Art Gallery in Pleasant Hill, California (Bay Area) is a terrific little show organized by artist and educator Hopi Breton. Included are twelve artists, mostly from the Bay Area, with Vaughn Bell from Seattle, Michele Brody from New York, and Northern California's Cynthia Hooper who is currently working with ecoartspace on a water show in Stockton titled Delta Waters

Many of you who know Cynthia's work as a video artist may not be familiar with her landscape paintings (2000-2008). These small exquisitely painted works, eleven total for TURF, are from an ongoing series that evokes a "Sunday painter" vernacular cataloging human impacts on the land. Instead of ignoring the industrial detritus for these beautiful crafted landscapes, she includes it all just as she sees it, just like the wildlife and elements that also have to work with human impediments on the land.

Another artist from Oakland, Alex Jackson, who created "Our National Scenic Resources" while in graduate school in 1992, recently revived this work for TURF. The original installation included a replica of a National Parks wooden Information station with volunteer style designed pamphlets that incorporate collage of images and text that the artist has assembled through the years about how we relate to and interact with nature. Titles include: Interpreting Scenic Beauty Estimates, Nature As Logo, Ornamental Palms in California, and Understanding Bears, Alcohol and Human Nature. Jackson includes content taken from government and trade publications, advertising and academic articles pointing out the structures we impose on nature in our efforts to manage and conserve it. He included three new pamphlets for this recent iteration and has continued to place them in racks at park visitor centers and other tourist information sites unauthorized through the years as his creative expression.
Also included, a photographer from San Francisco Christina Seely, who has captured stunning imagery, almost painterly, of major cities at night. Three works included that are from her series "Lux," capture the oddly alluring artificial glow produced by urban lights. The three largest illuminated areas that are seen from NASA's satellite maps of the world at night are the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. Her work is inspired by the beauty the lights present, although at the same time begs the viewer to question our dependence on energy that has a huge impact on our planet.

Vaughn Bell's portable landscapes, or "Pack of Forests" with accompanying water bottles and a portable "surrogate" mountain, each with attached walking leash, added a layer of interactivity making for a playful atmosphere. And, Stephen Galloway's unique photographic scans of rhizomes were blown up and floating in space, nature observed, examined in parts. 

Get out to see the show if you are in the area before it closes on December 1st. You won't regret it. And, thanks to Hopi Breton who shared with ecoartspace that she was inspired by our work to curate this exhibition. She also noted that her art students were interested in environmental issues which also led her to TURF. It is rare that an artist curates a show for others and does not include their own work. Kudos Hopi!


Elizabeth Demaray's "lichaffiti"

Last month, in early October in New York City during Art In Odd Places, a visual and performing arts festival sited in the public sphere along 14th Street from river to river, you just might have been lucky enough to take a walking tour with artist Elizabeth Demaray to visit her Lichen for Skyscrapers Project. For this project, Demaray sought to ameliorate the lack of native vegetation found in global cities by culturing lichen on the sides of skyscrapers and other manmade structures. The artist states "Lichen, a wonderfully adaptable plant, can grow vertically on many porous surfaces. Once propagated, it forms a protective barrier, insulating its supporting surface from harmful elements while serving to lower the cumulative temperature in metropolitan centers." Lichen, which barely needs any water to survive, is an ideal plant for a public work project, and also is intended by the artist to remedy the urban heat island effect. It is known to lower temperatures by absorbing sunlight and reflects heat due to its color, while also making oxygen, and it doesn't have any roots!

Demaray concocted a lichen slurry consisting of lichen with natural protean substrate that was spread on various surfaces of buildings after gaining permission from the owners. It takes about three months for the lichen to propagate. If it doesn't take, it simply dries up and blows away to find another place with more favorable conditions. A video of the plantings and walking tour are currently being produced featuring time-laps footage.

Demaray teaches at Rutgers-Camden. She is a recipient of the National Studio Award at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and is a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellow in sculpture. 

All photographs taken by Elizabeth Cheviot


Freshkills Park: A new beginning

For the last two years Freshkills Park has invited the public to come take a "sneak peak" full day tour of the transformation that has been taking place over the last ten years at the largest landfill site in the world. On Sunday, October 2nd this New York City park project offered free water taxi rides direct to the site from Pier 6, a one hour journey past miles of industrial sites, some still in production, far from the eyes of Manhattan. At the park were temporal art installations and science booths as well as guided walks, kayaking, and Mierle Ukeles' famous The Social Mirror garbage truck from the late 1970s.

ecoartspace was recently invited to jury an upcoming design competition at Freshkills, a collaboration of the Land Art Generator Initative and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. One of the goals of the park is to site large scale public art works. Elizabeth Monian and Robert Ferry of LAGI, who have been focused on energy based artworks in recent years out of Dubai, proposed an ideas competition for 2012. Contestants are invited to identify public art works that will harness energy from the site and convert it to electricity for the utility grid, in addition to providing conceptual beauty.

Freshkills consists of 2,200 acres, almost three times the size of Central Park. It is the largest park to be developed in NYC in over 100 years. The park is meant to be a "symbol of renewal and an expression of how our society can restore balance to its landscape." It will continue to be built out in several phases over the next 30 years and includes an unusual combination of natural and engineered beauty with creeks, wetlands, meadows and spectacular views of the New York City.

The monetary prize award of $20,000 will not guarantee a commission for construction; however, LAGI will work with stakeholders both locally (NYC) and internationally to pursue possibilities for implementation of the most pragmatic and aesthetic LAGI designs.


GreenHomeNYC's DIY Green Block Party

Saturday, October 1st ecoartspace had a booth at the annual GreenHomeNYC DIY Green Block Party in Brooklyn. This is something that we rarely do anymore, not that we don't want to, there is just only so much you can do. We presented prints, books and artworks, and had many interested buyers for our political posters by JustSeeds:Resourced series. Although, the rain came in the early afternoon, so we called it a day early. The biggest draw was Tattfoo Tan and his hen called 5p.m., one of 5 chickens he currently has at his home on Staten Island. It was amazing how many people were stopped in their tracks having realized that they were in the presence of a chicken! Grown men who remembered having cared for hens when they were boys were drawn in and reliving their childhood. Children were cautiously curious and their parents intrigued with the idea of urban chicken farming. Tattfoo was on hand to give advice on the logistics of having chickens within the city limits. The most common question all day was "is it legal to have chickens in the city." The answer: Yes. But, only hens, not roosters (for obvious reasons, they are too noisy). It would be great to do more events like this to share the work of ecological artists at green events. However, this is where we need help, to identify funding for creative education programs! It is important to pay artists for their time.

Here is a short video showing you where Tattfoo's hens live on Staten Island:


WIRED.com review

Brandon Keim writes for Wired.com on Beyond the Horizon curated by Amy Lipton at Deutsche Bank. The exhibition remains on view through September 16th in their 60 Wall Street Gallery, NYC. Open by appointment only - please contact amy@ecoartspace.org for a tour of the exhibition.

Link to article HERE

image "Oil" by Aviva Rahmani, 2011


Beyond the Horizon at Deutsche Bank NYC

June 6 – September 21, 2011

Opening June 15th, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Deutsche Bank 60 Wall Street Gallery, NYC

Amy Lipton, guest curator

Beyond the Horizon explores contemporary views of nature and habitat expressed through the tradition of landscape painting and drawing. Fourteen New York-based artists in Beyond the Horizon envision specific places from perceptual, historical and conceptual perspectives while at the same time they record the ongoing evolution of human interaction upon the environment. Previously held notions of nature vs. culture have changed for the 21st century and it is increasingly clear that all of life is one interconnected and interdependent system. Underlying the works in Beyond the Horizon is an acute awareness of environmental issues such as climate change, overpopulation, habitat changes, recycling, waste disposal, and reclamation. Some of the artists are committed to merging their art with action and implementation, while others are more interpretive. Using realism, fantasy or process as a source for imagination and transformation, they seek to create an awareness of loss and beauty in the marginal, the overused and the threatened.

Exhibition tours, an opportunity to 'Meet the Artists' and a panel discussion are planned. Please contact amy@ecoartspace for further info.

The artists are all based in the NY region and include Joy Garnett, Eva Strubel, Lisa Sanditz, Jason Middlebrook, Sarah McCoubrey, Eve Andree Laramee,George Boorujy, Peter Edlund, Sarah Trigg, Charlotte Schulz, Marion Wilson, Patricia Johanson, Aviva Rahmani,Spencer Finch


AFTA PAN Public EcoArt Webinar and upcoming Pre Conference Panel San Diego

Andrea Polli, Queensbridge proposal for alternative
energy (NYC) 2005

On May 4th ecoartspace had the opportunity to participate in an online webinar through Americans for the Arts out of Washington D.C. For several years now their Public Art Program Manager, Liesel Fenner, who previously worked for the New England Foundation for the Arts in Boston where she developed a partnership between the NPS and the NEA called Art & Community Landscapes by inviting artists to participate in education and restoration of public lands, has been an advocate of ecological art. For the webinar, Fenner invited a group of ecological arts consultants and a public artist to the table to share valuable information with the public art community on Going Green: How to Align Public Art with Green Building and Infrastructure. During this 90-minute presentation some 37 participants from across the United States were able to access important information on a rapidly developing field of artistic practice.

The first presenter was Mary Jo Aagerstoun, President of EcoArt South Florida. In her talk, Public EcoArt Integration: Transforming Policy she outlined case studies and policy examples for integrating art that makes green technologies visible into the design and construction of green building as well as public infrastructure. Rebecca Ansert, Founder and Principal of Green Public Art in Los Angeles gave a comprehensive presentation entitled Green Building: Where Does The Art Fit In? to examine how public art can meet LEED certification points as well as materials usage. Emily Blumenfeld, who is currently based out of London, and formerly from St. Louis, Missouri where she co-founded Via Partnership, reviewed a Public Art Master Plan that she co-authored for the Environmental Protection Department for the City of Calgary, Canada, known as the Expressive Potential of Utility Infrastructure. And, to wrap up the webinar, public artist Mark Brest van Kempen from Oakland, California presented several projects in various forms of completion, exemplified from the artists perspective, the numerous ways in which art can transform public space from an ecological perspective.

Patricia Watts, founder and west coast curator of ecoartspace gave a short talk on the artist selection process, which included suggestions for extended deadlines on RFQs, workshops for ecological artists who are new to the public art process, suggestions for who to bring to the table when selecting artists including Environmental Services Department employees and local biologists/ecologists, as well as art curators who have worked with many of these artists in a museum context. Importantly it was impressed upon public arts administrators to be proactive in bringing these types of projects to fruition. Often it is the case that administrators do not see themselves as collaborators with the artist and for these types of projects it is imperative that as much information as possible be provided to the artist as early as possible to be able to identify a crucial point of integration in the planning and construction process. Administrators will need to think outside their job description to make these projects successful.

The Going Green Webinar will be available to the general public on demand through AFTA after June 1st for $35 per download HERE. There will also be a follow up Public Art Preconference workshop at the AFTA Annual Conference in San Diego on June 15th, entitled Green Infrastructure: Re/Generation—Environmental Art & Design: Now and How including presentations by Rebecca Ansert, public artist and administrator Vaughn Bell, landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck, and Patricia Watts of ecoartspace.

Listen in online or see you in San Diego in June!

Links to other pioneering Ecological Public Art Plans include:


Nurturing Nature: Artists Engage the Environment

Nurturing Nature opened on February 10th, 2011 and runs through April 16th at OSilas Gallery on the campus of Concordia College in Bronxville NY.

Artists in the exhibition include: Eva Bakkeslett, Norway; Vaughn Bell, Seattle; Susan Benarcik, NYC; Michele Brody, NYC; Jackie Brookner NYC; Linda Bryne NYC; Xavier Cortada, Miami FL; Sonja Hinrichsen, Germany; Basia Irland, CO; William Meyer, Westchester, NY; Maria Michails, NYC; Roy Staab WI; Joel Tauber, CA.

Curated by Amy Lipton, ecoartspace and Patricia Miranda, Director OSilas Gallery

Concordia opened 130 years ago as a small Lutheran College. SInce then it has grown from a pre-seminary religious training school to a liberal arts college welcoming students of all faiths. OSilas Gallery Director Patricia Miranda invited me to curate an exhibition on art and the environment. In keeping with the college's history, we decided the show would include a focus on various spiritual or ethical traditions in relationship to our care of the planet, what Christianity terms Stewardship, Tikkun Olam or repair the world in Judaism and Compassion for all living beings in Buddhism. Images and knowledge of nature can all be found in all ancient spiritual traditions, as well as Biblical and medieval mystical texts and
pagan rituals which involve sun and moon cycles, star formations, tides, seasons, animals, gardens and plants. The artists in this exhibition are working with transformative approaches and processes towards a new vision that is ecological, and participates with the living cycles of nature.

The works cover a range of sensibilities and formal styles and address various issues including solar energy, suburban sprawl, species decline, food, agriculture, recycling, water purification and plants for restoration. What all these artists have in common a desire to to bridge the gap between art and life by raising an appreciation of the natural world and by working in a collaborative process with nature. Many of the artists work in an interdisciplinary basis with scientists, botanists and biologists and also participate in community based educational projects where they engage with the public.

Linda Byrne's sculptural installation titled Ghost Net resembles a giant fishing net. Her material (the ubiquitous and life-threatening to marine life), 6-pack plastic ring, tells a tale of our vanishing natural world. She cut and tied the uniform, machine-made rings into strands and, with repetitive action, wove them into a linear shape. Subject, concept, and material coalesce to examine the uneasy relationship that exists between nature and synthetics. Also included are 6 of Byrne's large scale drawings based on the forms of fishing nets. The series are devoid of color to express the lifeless nets left behind by our ailing fisheries and polluted coastal waters.

Susan Benarcik takes elemental forms of the natural and man made world into her studio and carefully transforms them by stacking, stringing, layering, knotting, and weaving them into dimensional sculpture for public and private spaces. Simple materials become contemplative compositions as they evidence a fondness and respect for the natural world and bring equilibrium to our senses by allowing the nature to become part of our daily cognitive experience. Her work for Nurturing Nature is titled Why Our Hangers made from wire clothes hangers, and string. These materials dictated the final form, which resemble chrysalis, wombs, or droplets, forms that are unique to essential natural processes.

The essence of Michele Brody's work is to understand how we live with change and the constant flux of our environment. She invites the viewer to a more openness of sensation through the production of ephemeral installations and living sculptures. Her work titled Grass Skirt Sentinels, use materials including copper pipe, fabric, light, grass seed and water, and are sustainable sculptures that support the growth of plants. During the course of the exhibition the works will transform as they go through a full life life cycle with the use of unique lighting

and a water irrigation system.

Alchemy - The Poetics of Bread by Eva Bakeslett is a beautifully executed and lyrical film about an activity once ubiquitous in almost every household. Eva is the both the maker and the baker of Alchemy and was brought up in Arctic Norway where baking bread is still common in many homes. Her rhythmical movements and confident touch is rooted to generations of woman baking their bread. The timeless beauty of the process brings baking into the realm of poetry and the art that goes beyond the walls of the gallery and onto our kitchen tables.

Roy Staab is a nomadic artist who has been traveling around the world to make art installations in nature for the past thirty years. His earth-sensitive site-specific works use locally available materials and result in ephemeral earthworks that eventually devolve back into nature. The works can last for days or weeks depending on weather conditions and forces of nature. Since 1979 he has been documenting these works with his own camera immediately upon finishing them. Included in Nuturing Nature are two of Staab's large scale photographs. Baleen was made in the Northwest Harbor in Gardiner's Bay (Eastern L.I.) off the Atlantic. Big Round pictured here was created in Denmark in summer of 2008 for a group exhibition on Marbaek Beach near Esbjerg. Staab spends the first few days at the site, studying the landscape and watching the changes of light over the course of the day. When the tide came in he walked along the beach and found a sand-dollar fossil. With that in mind the next morning he walked up the river estuary and found a small bay off the shore in an open area. Using the sand dollar design as inspiration he made the five rays of the fossil and then started to walk around and around in a pattern of his foot steps using his eye for measurement.

Taking the form of a running rickshaw, William Meyers' Green Rickshaw Project highlights what individuals, businesses and municipalities are doing towards creating sustainability in Westchester County NY. The Green Rickshaw builds a community of its own as it conceptually and physically navigates between actions being taken by organic farmers, locally made products, municipal sustainability initiatives, and home energy audits. Components of the Green Rickshaw include a rickshaw chassis fabricated from recycled bicycle parts, a steel kiosk, reclaimed oak ‘pulls’, zero formaldehyde birch plywood, bamboo flooring, flexible solar panels, a green roof module, a traveling library, and a cell phone recharge station.

Nurturing Nature includes 180 pencil drawings by Xavier Cortada for the first time presented in their entirety Endangered World: LifeWall. In 2009, Cortada created drawings of the 180 Endangered World animals struggling to survive on our planet's eastern hemisphere and, as a performative work, assumed the identity of the animal by uploading those images online as self-portraits on his facebook profile photo.

A second installation by Cortada titled Reclamation Project includes 180 Atlantic Cedar saplings in clear, water-filled cups arranged in a grid on the gallery windows and mirroring the 180 drawings in the Endangered World Project. The saplings are up for adoption, visitors can sign up to take home an Atlantic White Cedar tree for their yard or neighborhood at the end of the exhibition.

Maria Michails' The Handcar Projects are a series of works revolving around issues of industrial agriculture, topsoil erosion and biofuel. The handcar reflects on the history of the train and its impact on economic and urban growth and explores the artist's interest in energy generating mechanisms in the form of a mode of transportation. On the wall behind the Handcar are a series of small plexiglass houses covered in photographic images of corn. Titled, Off the Grid they reflect the competing economic factors on land use exerted by population growth and urban expansion. The small houses in Off the Grid question the ubiquitous use of this raw material and raise the question of whether we use precious land to feed ourselves, house ourselves or fuel ourselves?

Sonja Hinrichsen has 3 video works/ perfomances of ephemeral works created in nature. In Sun/Moon an environmental installation/performance piece from Wyoming, 2008 the artist chose an open plain to perform a ritual, positioning rocks, one by one, to draw an ancient symbol that has been used by indigenous cultures throughout the world, to represent the sun – as well as the moon. The rocks were coated with a phosphorescent material and glowed for several hours after sunset.

For Paradise Tree, an environmental intervention in Spain, (Sept. 2008), Hinrinchsen tried to find words reflecting what she saw, heard, smelled and experienced and then embroidered these words onto the leaves of a fruit- bearing fig tree.The slow, meditative act of embroidering became a performance, commemorating myths of Moorish times telling of beautiful young women who, while being kept at home, were dreaming of passion and adventure.

Vaughn Bell's sculptures Personal Biospheres explore the miniaturization of landscape, the separation of one piece of “land” from the whole, and the relationship of care and control that this embodies. A tiny mountain or a small piece of land is suddenly within the scale of the human body, implying a different relationship than the one of awe, alienation or domination that is present in many encounters with our surroundings.

Jackie Brookner has been making sculptural tongues out of soil called Biosculptures™ since 1992. These works are vegetated water filtration systems that create destinations, restore urban habitat, and reclaim the undervalued resources of stormwater and other polluted water. Early versions of these evolved into soil chairs, where earth can embrace the whole body. “The tongue is a provocative image because it is a part of our selves where our physical and mental functions come together--a place where taste, sex and speech meet--where the dualism of mind and body clearly breaks down”.

Basia Irland's A Gathering of Waters: Boulder Creek, Continental Divide to Confluence was created for Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, curated by Lucy Lippard for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007. The Backpack/Repository, suspended from beaver-cut aspen, is constructed from recycled truck inner tubes. Objects from the four-month long project contained within the Backpack/Repository include the Logbook, Canteen, video documentary, forty-seven water samples (one for each mile of the creek), watershed maps, and two images of Arapaho Glacier. The Glacier provides most of Boulder’s drinking water, so when it has melted away, where will the residents of this Colorado community obtain their water? This question prompted the artist to create a 250-pound, hand-carved ice book embedded with native riparian seeds – Columbine, Blue Spruce, and Mountain Maple. This ‘ecological text’ is released asthe ice melts in the current. Irland worked with stream ecologists, river restoration biologists, and botanists to determine the best seeds. When the seeds regenerate and begin to grow along the river, they help with restoration efforts by building the soil, holding banks in place, and stopping erosion.

A beautiful and forlorn tree, stuck in the middle of a giant parking lot. Ignored and neglected. Hit by cars, and starved for water and oxygen. Joel Tauber, a young and amorous man, is drawn to the tree. Outraged by the indignities that the tree is forced to endure, he devotes himself to improving the tree’s life – watering it with giant water bags, installing tree guards to protect it from cars, building giant earrings to celebrate its beauty, lobbying to remove the asphalt beneath its canopy and to protect it with a ring of boulders, and helping the tree reproduce. Sick-Amour functions as a microcosm of the plight of urban trees and of forgotten individuals in general. Sick-Amour culminated as 3 distinct artistic entities: a 12-channel video tree sculpture, a public art project comprised of approximately 150 “tree baby” plantings throughout California, and a 33-minute hybrid love story / documentary film.

Images top to bottom: Installation view with Grass Skirt Sentinels by Michele Brody; Why Our Hangers by Susan Benarcik; Grass Skirt Sentinel by Michele Brody; Big Round by Roy Staab; Green Rickshaw by William Meyers; Endangered World by Xavier Cortada; The Hand Car Project and Off the Grid by Maria Michaels; still from Paradise Tree by Sonja Hinrichsen; Biosphere by Vaughn Bell; and A Gathering of the Waters: Boulder Creek by Basia Irland. For more images go to my Flickr page or further info please see the website for OSilas Gallery.