This holiday season ecoartspace is seeking to raise approximately $4,000 to support initial research for development of two ACTION GUIDES including Katie Holten's Tree Museum and Tattfoo Tan's SOS projects. The donated art works are curated from our 2010 What Matters Most Benefit in NYC, which were created in response to Andrew Revkin's NY Times Dot Earth Blog post inviting scientists to answer this simple yet very important question.

Artists include: Jill Vasileff, Mary Mattingly, Suzan Shutan, Molly Herman, Amy Bassin, Sandi Slone, Nicole Fournier, Julia Kunin, David Schafer, Cathey Billian, Greg Patch, Joan Perlman, Aleta Wolfe, Elisa Pritzker, Lorrie Fredette, Richard Samuelson, Joseph Smolinski, Claudia Hart, Karen Dolmanisth, Bill Schuck, Sarah Havilland, Marion Wilson, Stacy Levy, Abigail Stern.  

We've had great feedback from our first HighWaterLine ACTION Guide and look forward to developing more of these successful socially engaged DIY public art projects in 2014, providing communities with unique tools to respond creatively to climate change and environmental degradation. 


Please email tricia@ecoartspace.org to arrange for payment and shipping



Eve Mosher gives HighWaterLine talk in Chelsea on the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

Artist Eve Mosher gave a talk as part of the Marfa Dialogues New York on October 30th, 2013, hosted by ecoartspace at the Rauschenberg Project Space. The artist shared the story of her public art project HighWaterLine where she marked the ten-feet-above-sea-level line along nearly 70 miles of coastline, in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, with a baseball line marker over the summer of 2007. Mosher recently collaborated with ecoartspace curator Patricia Watts to develop an HighWaterLine ACTION GUIDE so that communities anywhere can learn about her work and now mark their own line using Mosher’s project as inspiration. The guide was written for educators, nonprofit organizations and individuals, combining art and science to engage aesthetics while addressing environmental issues. In the guide, a range of waterline marking materials and other artists' examples are provided, as well as Mosher’s step-by-step process involved in performing the project. This is the first in a series of ten guides that will be created by mid 2015 addressing a range of environmental issues.
During her talk Mosher focused on the evolution of the  project into the Action Guide and her upcoming HighWaterLine projects for Miami, Philadelphia and London. In these cities, community involvement and participation are crucial components in the planning stage, which is already underway. For these new projects she is working on a mapping website that will collect place-based stories, and collaborations with local artists. She elaborated about her collaborative process, the open source aspects of the project and the exponential impacts of giving the work away. Mosher also spoke about the performative part of the project and how initially she did not think of it being a performance. However, in the process of engaging with the public and in conversations with those she met in the streets while walking and marking the line, that it did indeed become a performance work of art.

The talk at Rauschenberg Project Space took place one year and a day after Hurricane Sandy. Though Mosher doesn't like the role of prophetess, her HighWaterLine did in fact anticipate the flooding and storm surges in some areas of New York that went well beyond her blue marked 100 year flood line - or what anyone thought was possible? Sometimes being a visionary artist is not all that easy and with people's lives and well being at stake, Mosher's upcoming HighWaterLine projects take on a new urgency.


Transmissions at the Marin Community Foundation, Novato

Transmissions curated by Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace and west coast curator for the Marin Community Foundation in Novato, California, was inspired by her time, recently, living for one year only 500 yards away from a large cell phone tower and mobile MRI unit in Northern California. It was during this time that she realized there was something transmitting, an energy field, from these two very common modern world inventions. Not being one to worry about cell phone or computer usage, it became clear while living in this environment that something had changed, the frequency of electromagnetic activity was undeniably present.

After investigating artists who had addressed EMFs earlier in the 80s and realizing to re-construct or re-present some of the early works would not be feasible at the exhibition location, Watts searched further to see what more recent artworks were available that would either literally or conceptually represent the invisible energy fields that are being transmitted in the daily environment. 

Thilde Jenson, who photographs environmentally sensitive people, was one of the main inspirations for the show. Her images capture the level of desperation many people find themselves in when they realize that they are our canary's of the high tech world. 

Cathy Akers from Los Angeles explores utopian ideals of hippie communes from the 1960s. In 2012, she traveled to The Farm in Tennessee where she learned that they, the "farmies," believe boundaries between individuals do not exist, and that telepathy is real.

And, Christina Seely, who is a founding member of a design collective Civil Twilight, which created Lunar Resonant Streetlights that respond to moonlight, dimming and brightening in relationship to the cycles of the moon, documents light pollution around the world in some of our most brightly illuminated regions of the Earth.

Transmissions is comprised of one hundred and thirty artworks including paintings, photography, and sculpture by thirty artists from Berlin, New York City, Atlanta, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The exhibition will be on view through January 24, 2014 at the Marin Community Foundation in Novato at 5 Hamilton Field, #200 from 9-5pm, Monday through Friday.


Where Have All the Flowers Gone

ecoartspace currently has an exhibition of works by 32 artists on view at The Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill, NY through October 6th. Many of the works included are inspired by the Pete Seeger song Where Have All the Flowers Gone? on the occasion of his September 8, 2013 “Return to Peekskill” concert at the Paramount in partnership with WAMC radio. The exhibition is jointly organized by Amy Lipton of ecoartspace and Simon Draper, founder of Habitat for Artists. To read the full blog post and view the artworks for sale please click HERE.


HighWaterLine ACTION GUIDE available for download

ecoartspace is excited to present Eve Mosher's HighWaterLine ACTION GUIDE, the first in a series of ten art and ecology learning guides presenting replicable social practice public art projects. In 2007, Mosher spent the summer marking the ten feet above sea level line throughout Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn to make visible for residents living along the coastline what scientists had been projecting as an increase in sea level in the next century. Little did she know when she conceived of this project that in 2012 Hurricane Sandy would pound the east coast with storm surges in some places beyond what anyone thought was possible. 

With this guide we are inviting educators, organizations and individuals to replicate what Mosher did in New York City anywhere in the world, to tell her story and to mark a line as appropriate for each individual locale. In the guide, other waterline marking materials and examples are provided, as well as Mosher's step-by-step process involved in developing and performing the project. Plans are in place to create a website portal where this guide and others can be viewed online and downloaded for FREE by anyone in the world to use. 

For now we invite you to download the PDF from DropBox and distribute freely, as well as create your own HighWaterLine in your communities and neighborhoods where climate change has and will be impacting your natural environment in the future.



Millennial Abstractions, curated by Patricia Watts

"Abstractions are seductive and evocative and invite contemplation and reverie. In the liminal space of an abstract work of art, our perceptions are free flowing and transitional. We know the world is changing and growing rapidly, with seven billion people and counting. How we respond to these changes and cope with them can be supported by art that makes room for our deepest cultural and personal concerns." Patricia Watts

 In 2011, I began researching artists who were doing abstract paintings, mainly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was my suspicion that what might be happening with this new vibrant and energetic work was a response to extreme weather events or climate change, if not explicitly, subliminally. I wasn't sure if my hunch was right, but eventually found a few artists painting fragmented landscapes that evoke our most pressing environmental issues. Of course, the outcome was a much broader representation for an exhibition titled Millennial Abstractions including 22 artists and over 90 paintings (a few sculptures) presented at the Marin Community Foundation in Hamilton Field, Novato, California (Feb. 15 - May, 31, 2013).

Artists such as Marie Thiebault, Samantha Fields, Gina Stepaniuk, and Judith Belzer (from top to bottom, left to right, above) each have been very outspoken about how our changing climate influences their work. And, each has captured the intensity and dynamism of the flux we find ourselves in--working through who's to blame, who's responsible, and how can we hold on to what we have before it becomes indistinguishable. For example, Thiebault with her series on the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Fields with her blurred windshields with pounding weather events; Stepaniuk with her satellite perspective of a fragmented planet; and Belzer with her topographical lands eroding off in the distance.
Although not all of the artists in the show felt that their works were identifiably related to events of the new millenia--9/11, the Iraq War, or climate change--they are each a part of what appears to be a revival in painting that hasn't been seen since the 1980s.
Artists from Los Angeles and the Bay Area included: Kim Anno, Judith Belzer, Val Britton, Chris Duncan, Samantha Fields, Sherie Franssen, Justine Frishmann, Benicia Gantner, Christopher Kuhn, David McDonald, Yvette Molina, Ali Smith, April Street, Julia Schwartz, Blandine Saint-Oyant, Gina Stepaniuk, Sylvia Tidwell, Catherine Tirr, Marie Thibeault, Cassandra Tondro, Ruth Trotter, and Adam Wolpert.


Sue Spaid reviews Expo 1: New York, Dark Optimism at PS1. Intro by Amy Lipton

Expo 1: New York, focuses on some of the most pressing environmental and sociopolitical issues of the day. It takes the urgent and pragmatic sensibility of “Dark Optimism” as its position. Dark Optimism addresses ecological challenges set against the backdrop of economic turmoil and sociopolitical upheaval that has made a dramatic impact on daily life. In response to these global challenges, the magazine and editorial collective Triple Canopy calls for “dark optimism,” an attitude that encompasses both the seeming end of the world and its beginning, one that is positioned on the brink of apocalypse and the onset of unprecedented technological transformation. Climate change has generated storms, droughts, and floods that occur with greater frequency and severity. Economic volatility around the world has precipitated political action, giving rise to manifestations and uprisings in regions such as Northern Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe, and New York’s Wall Street. Meanwhile technological innovations and novel architectural initiatives offer the tantalizing promise of a brighter future. Recent advancements have facilitated communication – which at times has helped organize political protests-as well as access to information with such ease and volume that it threatens to become overwhelming in scale. The works exhibited in Dark Optimism make note of these paradoxical conditions and the instabilities of both natural and artificial systems. - wall text at PS1 MoMA

I’ve made three visits to PS1 MoMA’s exhibition Expo 1: New York, Dark Optimism, and have tried unsuccessfully to find anything in the exhibition that reflects the museum wall statement quoted above. As a curator who has focused on working with ecological artists for over a decade, I went to PS1 with excitement to see this challenge (finally) being taken on by a major New York institution for contemporary art. The show was organized with good intentions in direct response to the effects of last year’s Hurricane Sandy and its far-reaching impact on our local environment and economy, on coastal communities and in New York City. Unfortunately I have to express my disappointment. The works in the exhibition refer to the title Dark Optimism, presenting the dark, apocalyptic and catastrophic in current art trends.  My co-curator of the landmark 2002 exhibition Ecovention, Sue Spaid, aptly calls it “catastrophe art” in her review below. Sadly missing are examples of the many important artists working today whose efforts do offer some cautious optimism. Our environmental situation is dire to say the least. Myriad issues conspire towards our demise - climate change; land, sea and air pollution from the relentless extraction of fossil fuels; oil spills and nuclear leaks; habitat destruction; species extinctions; the list goes on and on.
In the New York area alone there are numerous artists, established and emerging, making profound and inspiring works that tackle these issues, but they are not represented in this exhibition. Brandon Ballengee, Lillian Ball, Joan Bankemper, Jackie Brookner, Betsy Damon, Michele Brody, Wendy Brawer, Mel Chin, Elizabeth Demaray, Peter Fend, Katie Holten, Natalie Jeremijenko, Habitat for Artists Collective, Kristin Jones, Eve Andree Laramee, Ellen Levy, Lenore Malen, Mary Miss, Maria Michaels, Mary Mattingly, Aimee Morgana, Eve Mosher, Leila Christine Nadir, Cary Peppermint, Aviva Rahmani, Andrea Reynosa, Christy Rupp, Jenna Spevack, Alan Sonfist, Katrin Spiess, Tattfoo Tan, Mierle Ukeles, – to name a few. And that list doesn’t include the many artists outside of New York, internationally, or the hundreds of painters and photographers who make work representing and bringing awareness to environmental issues. No exhibition can be completely inclusive – but a show on ecological challenges in New York City has been long awaited and this is a real missed opportunity to give the topic the seriousness and depth it deserves.
Thanks to the daily programming of lectures, debates and discussion by Triple Canopy at PS1 in conjunction with the exhibition - Speculations (“The Future is____________”). A few of the artists I mentioned above, Natalie Jeremijenko, Mary Mattingly and Mierle Ukeles along with Agnes Denes (Denes is one of two historical ecological artists included in the show, the other is Meg Webster whose 1998 PS1 commissioned installation of Pool was recreated at the invitation of Alanna Heiss) were invited to come discuss their visions for the future and give a presentation on their works that go beyond addressing environmental challenges to offering creative, imaginative and pragmatic approaches to the dire problems we face. That is what I call optimism.
Expo 1: New York “Dark Optimism” remains on view through September 2, at MoMA PS1
Amy Lipton
Curator ecoartspace NY

Expo 1: New York
Dark Optimism May 12-September 2, MoMA PS1
Rain Room May 12-July 28, MoMA, West Lot
School May 13-July 28, MoMA PS1
According to its press release, Expo 1 is a “festival-as-institution,” enabling people to explore “ecological challenges in the context of 21st century economic and socio-political instability.” This statement indicates MoMA PS1’s neoliberal delusion, since instabilities rather mitigate “ecological challenges.” Consider Europe’s diminished car sales since 2008. Greater stability typically invites capital investments and development, which deplete natural resources and animal habitat, while intensifying climate change, flooding, desertification, and groundwater contamination. Consider the BRICS nations, whose swelling ecological challenges reflect their expanding ecological footprints.  
Dark Optimism, which assembles 35 solo exhibitions, is the satellite around which Expo 1 revolves. The curatorial team (more than twenty collaborators) has also organized a school (50+ Triple Canopy events), kitchen garden (for M. Wells dishes), colony inhabiting cultural agents, cinema, ProBio (mini-expo), community center (VW geodesic dome sited in Rockaway to showcase relief shelters and 25 proposed climate-change survival plans), and Rain Room. As compared to Olafur Eliasson’s magical Your strange certainty still kept (1996), the high-tech Rain Room adjacent MoMA eradicates wonder. The metaphorical approach of the smaller exhibition ProBio fails to uncover anything remarkable as compared to works by dozens of artists who explore technology’s actual impact on human bodies.  
The curators claim that the presence of so many simultaneous activities enables PS1 to experiment with “social practice,” yet none of the invited artists are especially known for sparking conversations or engaging unsuspecting spectators. Absent merry makers, “social practice” is reduced to ever more festival spectacles and educational programs. Of the fifty artists, filmmakers, and novelists invited to lecture and/or lead discussions in response to Triple Canopy’s suggestion, “The future is___”, only Ruth DeFries, Natalie Jeremijenko, Agnes Denes, Mary Mattingly, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles confront ecological issues. This dearth of eco-personnel further devalues this festival’s stated goals.
Opposing Dark Optimism is The Politics of Contemplation, fifty dramatic Ansel Adams photographs from 1932 to 1968. Shot mostly in Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the San Mateo County Coast, they record nature’s fragility and majesty. One might say that Dark Optimism “surveys a landscape of wilderness and ruins, darkened by uncertain catastrophe. Humankind is being eclipsed and new ecological systems struggle to find a precocious balance.” However, I am quoting the New Museum’s 2008 press release for Against Nature. As a trilogy, Against NatureSeptember 11 (2011), and Dark Optimism launch a new genre, “catastrophe art.”     
Exemplary of stability’s role in augmenting ecological challenges, Olafur Eliasson’s Your waste of time (2006/2013) presents twelve glacier chunks transported from Vatnajökoll (Iceland’s largest glacier) and displayed in a solar-powered refrigerated gallery. Equally cynical is Cinthia Marcelle’s video depicting a bulldozer performing crazy eights atop an already flattened field. Equally over-the-top is Adrián Villar Rojas’ La inocencia de los animales (2013), an indoor amphitheater whose colossal scale evokes Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. With its simultaneous references to antiquity and post-apocalyptic Earth, La inocencia seems straight out of Planet of the Apes. Absent bathers, Meg Webster’s reconstructed Pool (1998/2013) makes promises but negates possibilities, which is this exhibition’s leitmotif.
By presenting artworks focused on natural or manmade catastrophes, Dark Optimism overlooks artists’ endeavors to prophesy or alleviate preventable disasters. Rather than exhibit any of the novel ecological solutions that dozens of ingenious artists working on every continent have implemented —over the past forty years—the curators present artworks that merely react to our planet’s terrible situation, leaving Earth’s ill-health as yet another arena for appropriation. Colonization offers a better description. In this context, Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield: A Confrontation, which presaged Wall Street’s ascendancy and global food shortages, is less a testament to human potential and more a nostalgic monument to pre-9/11 innocence. Once a clever solution, Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fresh Air Cart (1972) is now a sign portending doom.  One leaves thinking, “What’s bad for Earth is good for art,” as if disaster photographs now provide artistic inspiration. Peter Buggenhout’s three fascinating sculptures evoke mud-encrusted metal structures, while Anna Bettbeze fabulous wall hangings hint at acid-stained or flood-ravished carpets.
Pierre Huyghe
Zoodram 5 (after Sleeping Muse by Constantin Brancusi) 2011
Live Marine ecosystem, sculptured shell, basalt rock and filtration system 
John MIller, A Refusal to Accept Limits (detail), 2012

The curators claim that Dark Optimism reflects the future that is, “if you want it to be there,” yet few artists here glance forward and most treat catastrophes too lightly. Given wolves’ moose diets, Mircea Cantor’s short video Deeparture (2005) proved to be incredibly scary, as I envisioned the wolf devouring its lone cohabitant. Belittling lynchings, Mark Dion’s Killers Killed (2004-2007) features nine tarred and lynched predators. As remarks on consumer excess, Klara Lidén’s nine trashy trashcans and John Miller’s gold-plated recyclables feel trite.     
No “catastrophe art” exhibition would feel complete without Chris Burden’s model Titanic ships balanced on the Eifel Tower, Latifa Echakhch’s shattered tea-glass installation, Mitch Epstein’s menacing power-plant photographs, Paweł Althamer’s outerspace zombies, or Pierre Huyghe’s staged battle between elegant arrow crabs and a hermit crab inhabiting Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse.       
Premised on utopia’s twin promises of harmonious nature and technological liberation, “catastrophe art” actually distracts us from Earth’s generosity, leaving us unwilling to face our destructiveness fully and practically. Only Ugo Rondinone’s sensorial soundscape and Dan Attoe’s intriguing paintings rise above this exhibition’s passivity towards disaster, precisely because they invite possibility. Attoe’s hidden messages warn people to pay attention to past mistakes, and remind us, “This world has everything that you could ever want.”
Sue Spaid, 2013
This review first appeared in Issue 113 of H art, a Flemish art journal
Meg Webster. Pool. 1998/2013. Installation view of EXPO 1: New York at MoMA PS1. 
Photo: Matthew Septimus.
    Natalie Jeremijnko Left and Mierle Ukeles Right (photos: Amy Lipton) from Triple Canopy's School at PS1 Speculations (“The Future is____________”)