Enchantment at Peter Strauss Ranch


In 1999 I curated an art-in-nature exhibition at Escondido Phoenix Ranch Retreat in Escondido Canyon, Malibu. It was developed as a 10-day residency with ten artists creating site works along a mile trail. The works were reviewed in Sculpture magazine by Collette Chattopadhyay and over a three-day Memorial weekend some 300+ people came to view the installations

While at Paramount Ranch 3 art fair this past January I was thinking it would be fun to do another site project in the Santa Monica Mountains. The next thing you know, I was invited to curate at Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura Hills by the National Park Service! Of course, I wish the budget were bigger and I could invite more artists to participate, but I think we have a sweet show, pulled together very quickly over the last two months. 

The works will remain up through the summer and we will do a closing performance on September 10th. With additional funding we can add a few more installations in June and August, fingers crossed. 

Opening reception/talk with artists on June 5th, Sunday at 2pm

Patricia Watts, curator/ecoartspace

Facebook invitation HERE 


Cloud House at Farmer's Park - Springfield, MO

Almost two years ago ecoartspace invited Matthew Mazzotta to Springfield, Missouri to propose a public art installation for Farmers Park, a LEED certified multi-use development. After meeting with the local community during a public living room conversation, the artists' format for gathering information to conceptualize his projects, Mazzotta went back to the drawing board. He came up with several ideas which he then presented to the owner of the development while in residence on the property spring 2015. By the end of June, there was consensus to green light the construction of the permanent public artwork that is titled Cloud House.

Cloud House is an iconic 'House' clad with barn wood, a tin roof, and a 'Cloud' suspended directly above the structure. Inside the house are rocking chairs that when sat upon triggers the cloud to rain drops of water onto the roof creating the sound of 'rain on a tin roof,' a poetic experience that echoes our connection to the natural world. Through an elegant design and engineering feat this whimsical and visually uplifting public sculpture engages a sense of disbelief. As the water flows down the tin roof and into an internal water reserve, water is directed to two side windows where it falls into planters below that are growing greens for public consumption. 

This work is meant to provoke conversations around exploring the local, questions of ecology and dissecting the systems that make up our "everyday" experiences. Mazzotta is a graduate of the MIT Visual Studies Masters of Science Program and has won several awards for his project OPEN HOUSE in York, Alabama that he completed in 2013. For the last two years he has also been working with four communities in Nebraska to create public works through ArtPlace America and hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs titled "Byway of Art." It is his feeling that rural and mid-America locales are a hotbed for achieving meaningful public art projects. 

There will be a public dedication with the artist on site at Farmers Park, Saturday April 23rd to celebrate Earth Day and to acknowledge the first ever permanent interactive public sculpture created in the City of Springfield. The project was funded by Art for All through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

For more information on Matthew Mazzotta, go to his website HERE

Images by Tim Hawley


"Antarctica" panel discussion with artist Lucy Orta

On February 17th ecoartspace NY curator Amy Lipton participated on a panel discussion with artist Lucy OrtaNYU Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy Dale Jamieson, and founder of Parley for the Oceans Cyrill Gutschwho served as moderator for the event. 

The discussion took place in conjunction with the Lucy and Jorge Orta exhibition, Antarctica at Jane Lombard Gallery in Chelsea.This ongoing project by the Ortas is based on their expedition to Antarctica in 2007 and was the title of this exhibition, their first solo in New York. Cyrill Gutsch asked the panelists questions about the relationship of art and design to environmental issues and activism. Discussed at length was the artists' role in raising awareness and confronting urgent, challenging issues such as climate change, sea level rise, food and water shortages, ocean pollution and over-population.

Antarctica featured works created for the artists’ expedition to the Antarctic peninsula, addressing issues such as human survival in adverse situations. The Ortas installed an ephemeral “Antarctic Village” on the continent, composed of 50 domelike sculptures constructed with flags from countries around the world. They also created and raised the first Antarctic Flag, to symbolize the unification of nations around shared common values.

Antarctica embodies utopia: a continent whose extreme climate encourages mutual aid and solidarity, freedom of research, sharing, and collaboration for the good of the planet. The centerpiece of the exhibition was The Antarctic World Passport Delivery Bureau, a traveling installation recently presented at the Grand Palais in Paris during the COP21 UN Climate Summit. Visitors encountered an architectural assemblage made from reclaimed materials, and received a uniquely numbered Antarctica World Passport.  In exchange recipients pledge to support the project’s principles: to take action against the disastrous effects of global warming and strive for peace. Since 2008, 55,000 passports have been printed, and visitors to Lucy + Jorge Orta’s exhibition at the Jane Lombard Gallery were able to to register for their personalized passport edition, and to join this growing community of world citizens. www.antarcticaworldpassport.com

To watch a video segment from the panel discussion please go to this link.


Some Kind of Nature

The Art of Sustainability Symposium took place on Friday February 19th and Saturday February 20th in Palm Bay, Florida, and featured nationally noted guest speakers from the  art and science communities highlighting advancements in art and sustainability, including: Mississippi River's Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters, biologist Wendy Anderson, Marty Baum of Riverkeeper Alliance, kinetic artist Ralfonso Gschwend, Keith Winsten from the Brevard Zoo, Trevor Gibson of Environmental Advantage, and Patricia Watts, founder/curator of ecoartspace
Wendy Anderson gave a presentation on her perspective as a biologist of the unique ways in which artists and scientists are similar, and how these characteristics offer opportunities for both domains when using the imagination to solve the environmental issues at hand. Keynote speaker Chad Pregracke gave a presentation of his 18-year ongoing effort to clean up the Mississippi River, including 856 clean ups of 23 rivers with 93,000 volunteers. He also shared with us images of his low tech/high tech barge that looks like a great opportunity for artist residencies on the Mississippi. 

Florida's habitat ecoartist Jesse Etelson was also involved and presented an interactive habitat sculpture made of driftwood for families of the sustainability Community Day! And, Patricia Watts of ecoartspace presented site projects that employ wind, water, and solar including both proposals, and permanent and temporal public art works such as Windsock Currents at Crissy Field in the Presidio, which she sited for the UN World Environment Day in 2005, and Cloud House that she curated for Farmer's Park in Springfield, Missouri working Matthew Mazzotta in 2015. Other projects included Mags Harries and Lajo Heder's Sunflowers in Austin, Texas, and proposals from the 2012 and 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative competitions, as well as Buster Simpson's waste water cisterns, Betsy Damon's Living Water Garden, and Eve Mosher's HighWaterLine. Her talk wrapped up with a work she feels is long overdue to be implemented, Andrea Polli's Queens Bridge Windpower Project, and then in contrast, the bloated $15.5 million dollar unsustainable work by Olafur Eliasson, NYC Waterfalls. The title of her talk Some Kind of Nature was borrowed from the song by the Gorillaz. 

There was a closing panel on Saturday discussing climate science with a couple members of the audience questioning the data and the validity of climate change. It was apparent that this is an area where the sciences can benefit from the arts in presenting the data in order to help the general public understand the science. There is still much work to do!


Tipping Points at Bergen Community College

Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crises will take place at Gallery Bergen timed in conjunction with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, held in Paris, from November 30 to December 11th. It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations from all the nations of the world. 

Artists can use their skills and imagination to address the issue of climate change. Artworks towards this cause are now being seen in unprecedented numbers. The artists in Tipping Points use a variety of mediums including painting, photography, video, sculpture and drawing. Some have been partnering with scientists and environmental organizations. Others have been researching and documenting changes in glaciers and diminishing ice on trips to far northern regions of the planet; including boat trips to the Arctic and Antarctic. Some take a more poetic and imaginative approach to confront the seriousness of the issue and single biggest challenge of our time.

Many hope for a technological breakthrough or miracle solution, while others believe that adaptation and fortifications can be built to mitigate harm. Science deniers in the political system clearly have their heads in the sand. The intensity of the power struggle over climate change, believers vs. non believers, has only grown over the years since this 1988 statement by Michael McElroy, Professor of Environmental Studies, Harvard University: "If we choose to take on this challenge, it appears that we can slow the rate of change substantially, giving us time to develop mecha​nisms so that the cost to society and the damage to ecosystems can be minimized. We could alternatively close our eyes, hope for the best, and pay the cost when the bill comes due."  

Curated by Amy Lipton for Gallery Bergen, Paramus, New Jersey



FiberSHED opens October 7th at the Marin Community Foundation in Novato, California. Curated by Patricia Watts, the exhibition presents approximately ninety artworks by twenty-four fiber artists, primarily from the Bay Area, and also includes five artists from Los Angeles, Michigan, and New Hampshire. This survey exhibition includes a cross-pollination of Bay Area environmental sensitivity and conceptual art-making that pushes the boundaries of this medium in exciting and creative ways.

The title FiberSHED is a play on the concept of a watershed, an area of land where water flows from the mountaintops, downward to tributary creeks and rivers, and ultimately drains into lakes and oceans. For this exhibition, the title conveys the exceptional art that is being made by visual artists in the medium of fiber primarily located in the bioregion or “shed” of the San Francisco Bay Area. These are artists who share a unique relationship with the landscape and who are making cutting-edge artworks rich in craft tradition, while reflecting local sociocultural discourse.

Artworks in FiberSHED include: tapestry, samplers, embroidery, felted wool paintings, conceptual hook rugs, photographic transfers on woven fiber, clothes portrait quilts, hand-stitched banners and books, painted weavings, book arts, art and science weavings, felt sculpture, horse hair weavings, and woven measurements of environmental conditions, such as drought and tree rings.

Artists include: Adela Akers, Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth Hope, Anna Von Mertens, Christine Szeto, Diedrick Brackens, Emily Payne, Esther Traugot, George-Ann Bowers, Kate Nartker, Jenne Giles, Lauren Hartman, Lia Cook, Linda Davenport, Liv Aanrud, Liz Robb, Lucy Childs, Luke Haynes, Paul Gillis, Sherri Smith, Stephanie Metz, Tali Weinberg, Topaze Moore, and Victoria May.

For more information on the artists in the exhibition go HERE


FOODshed: Art and Agriculture in Action

FOODshed: Art and Agriculture in Action originated at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, NY in 2014, curated by Amy Lipton of ecoartspace. An updated version was recently on view in August/September 2015 at CR10 Arts, a few miles south of Hudson, NY. The goal from the beginning was to travel the show to the Hudson Valley since many of the artists live and work there, as well as grow food on their own small farms.

CR10 Arts is in Columbia, County, an agricultural region with the now flourishing small town of Hudson where art, culture and food are thriving. CR10 is housed in a re-purposed 15,000 square foot concrete block building, constructed in 1954 for agricultural storage. Installing the show in this enormous space was a challenge for the artists since there is very little usable wall space, the building is mostly windows. But the exposed barn beams and simple wooden floors made a great backdrop for this show which was focused on sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, and artists' use of food as subject matter or medium.

The exhibition featured artworks and inventive projects around agriculture and food that addressed farming as both activism and art form. Many of the artists in the exhibition are known for bringing community-specific issues into their work and are exploring the real-world implications of small-scale farming and raising community awareness about our food systems. The artists advocate for an organic, regional and local approach, which they are manifesting in their own lives and where the boundaries of real world and art completely disappear.

Artists included: Joan Bankemper, Dan Devine, Ecoarttech, Habitat for Artists, Lenore Malen, Kristyna and Marek Milde, Peter Nadin, Andrea Reynosa, Jenna Spevack, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Elaine Tin Nyo, Tattfoo Tan, and Linda Weintraub.  

To learn more about the show and the installations go HERE

FOODshed was reviewed in Edible Hudson Valley and IMBY (in my backyard).



EGO l ECO: Environmental Art for Collective Consciousness

EGO|ECO is a collection of essays, artist descriptions and photographs documenting the Fall 2013 art exhibition, EGO|ECO: Environmental Art for Collective Consciousness at the California State University Fullerton Begovich Art Gallery. Curators Allison Town and Emily Tyler invited viewers to engage in a global conversation about human relationships with the earth―encouraging individual reflection and collective environmental mindfulness. Patrons were asked to remain aware of how they viewed each artist’s work and how their own interaction influenced their understanding of the artist’s message. 

The curators proposed that by remaining aware of the act of perceiving―thinking about thinking―individuals become more actively engaged and open to critical digestion of ideas. Included in the exhibition catalog is a Director’s Forward by Mike McGee, essay by Patricia L. Watts (Founder/Curator of ecoartspace), Curatorial Statement by Allison Town and Emily Tyler, essays by both curators, descriptions of featured artwork including artist biographies, photographic documentation of the exhibit, art and opening reception, artist-in-residency projects by artist Nicole Dextras and associated educational programming. 

Featured artists and collectives include: Vaughn Bell, Terry Berlier, Nicole Dextras (Artist-in-Residence), Fallen Fruit (David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young), Green Patriot Posters (Dmitri Siegel and Edward Morris), Newton and Helen Harrison, Jacci Den Hartog, Chris Jordan, Alison Moritsugu, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Esther Traugot and Andre Woodward.



Climate Change: A Panel Discussion

Last night I was a panelist at the Noyes Museum with this distinguished group, Michael Lemonick, journalist for TIME magazine; Andrew Revkin, The New York Times environment writer and blogger; Aaron T. O'Connor, founding director of The Arctic Circle expeditionary residency program; Dr. Jeff Niemitz, Professor of Earth Sciences at Dickinson College. Moderated by artist Diane Burko whose work focuses on issues of climate change. The panel weighed heavily on the science side of the discussion and I learned a tremendous amount about everything climate change related including the very slow changes of deep geologic time and the intense speeding up of these changes since the relatively recent (200 yr old) industrial age. Wise words in the conclusion by Andrew Revkin were that we all must do everything we can to effect changes in behavior and policy - but that we can't fix this problem quickly or all at once. He pointed out that we need way more young people engaged in science and funding for science education and research is very slim. The good news - we had a full house and audience of many students asking great questions. -- Amy Lipton



Ghosts of the Gulf by Brandon Ballengée at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries

Currently on view at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries is an exhibition I've organized with artist/biologist Brandon Ballengée. The exhibition titled Ghosts of the Gulf includes several stark and brilliantly colorful images of marine species collected in the Gulf of Mexico directly following the deadly 2010 Deep Water Horizons (DWH) oil spill disaster. Ballengée will give a talk about his work and a reception will take place on Saturday, December 13 from 5 – 7 pm at the BIRE gallery on Main Street in Beacon, NY. Register here.

Ballengée's artistic and scientific inquiry has focused on the rapid decline of amphibian populations around the world and the occurrence of developmental deformities among amphibians. He has received international attention for this work as well as his scientific research publications. Ballengée’s work as a biologist looks at amphibians as bio-indicator species, particularly their development in complex ecosystems and the proximate causes for developmental deformities among wild populations. “Understanding amphibians at this point in history is very important as they are suffering from rapid wide-spread population declines at over 40% in less than half a century” said Ballengée. Though the Gulf of Mexico species depicted in Ghosts of the Gulf do not appear to show deformities, Ballengée, hypothesizes as to why; “The subjects in Ghosts were found shortly after the spill so do not have any obvious morphological abnormalities, however we don’t know what the long term impacts of the spill yet will be, on these species or even our own”. These images of species once common to the Gulf, represents a creative process that blurs the lines between art and biology. Ballengée’s specimen-subjects transition from their once living state to brightly colored x-rays revealing the complex architectural anatomy of these beautiful and vanishing species. 

It's very exciting to be partnering on an exhibition of such importance as Ballengée’s Ghosts of the Gulf with the Beacon Institute, an environmental research nonprofit engaging scientists, engineers, and environmentalists, to apply diverse intellectual and physical resources to the water challenges of the 21st century. I've been fortunate in having the opportunity to work with Ballengée several times over the past 12 years beginning with my pioneering exhibition and book Ecovention in 2002 at the Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati. In 2007 I collaborated with Ballengée and the Central Park Arsenal Gallery, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy on Silent Migration, an exhibition focused on the 300 species of birds that migrate through New York City each year. I included Ballengée in my public exhibition BiodiverCITY, which took place in Washington D.C. in 2012 as part of the 5 x 5 public art exhibition hosted by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Ballengée constructed one of his signature works, Love Motel For Insects, an outdoor light installation that formed giant dragonfly wings out of fabric using ultra-violet lights to attract insects at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. More recently I curated The Cryptic Ones, Salamander Portraits by Ballengee and Stanley K. Session at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia.

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill was the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, with devastating impacts to one of the most important and biologically diverse habitats in the world: the Gulf of Mexico. Ghosts of the Gulf is on display at Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, Clarkson University now through March 8, 2015. The images are courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York City.