Sunday, December 20, 2009


As the year draws to a close it's always a good time for reflection, and especially after a seasonal snow storm ! I am very aware that as we go forward with the project that we are about to begin again . Each time we have an event or an installation there is a new experience gained that helps inform the next event or project . With this very much in mind I thought it useful , especially to new readers, to perhaps explore What is Habitat for Artists or maybe better put what has it

Habitat for Artists started in the Spring of 2008 on a patch of green in a parking lot in Beacon NY. It was to be a project that was allied to an Art Fair planned for early summer , that for reasons too many to recall here , didn't transpire . So HFA become it's own entity and artists used the small studios when they could , dealing with crazy nesting Robins to sunny , hot days where some had to take a break and visit DIA museum for a cool break !? There was always an aspect of asking the artists to examine the way they worked , what materials they worked with and the ability and openness to repurpose and reuse what ever we could in the building and in the art made (if any) there . There was a more or less communal side to it . We occasionally got together for a beer or a discussion , but alot of the artists had , which is typical ,an array of commitments which made being there at the same time difficult. Some artists were more able to come at certain days others struggled to be there and the confines of space were more to do with the confines of the life of an artist juggling two or more jobs !

In 2009 we had an invitation from Brian Wallace at SDMA (The Dorsky Museum) to be a part of the regional show in June and to also place the small studios around the village of New Paltz.
HFA now had to seek approval for the placement of these studios around town from the Village Board. We were now on the radar !We had decided that winter to reduce the time in the studios to a maximum of 3 weeks, in order that artists could sustain a presence in them.We also tried to place a collaborative component and especially a public outreach aspect to these short term residencies. Many artists in their time in the studios came up with wonderful interactive ways to engage with the passers by. They created new dialogue with many folks who wouldn't have passed over the threshold of a museum or gallery .This started to feel like what the project might become and what needed to be fostered and grown.

During this time we were allied with Solar 1 in NYC and were part of a Food and Garden project in Philadelphia (SCEE) , curated by Amy Lipton of ecoartspace. These asscociations started to greatly effect what HFA might become and the relationship with gardening grew when we were asked to place a studio at a CSA near Beacon , farmed by Tim Heuer.

The year ended with a bang by being allied with Urban Go Green , an inner city green education group , that organizes a Green , alternative Expo at the Harlem Armory at 142nd St.. We were fortunate in working with Work Space Harlem , across the street and building the NEW UGG studio at the work space location ! These alliances were along way from that small piece of green in that Beacon parking lot , but a lot of the issues were the same and began taking shape !

HFA is on its way to becoming its own not for profit . We will begin to formulate the process in the new year by which we can take direct contributions. This is not to say we won't partner with other groups and we are fortunate this next year to be sponsored through HHLT, in Garrison.
WE are still working closely with ecoartspaceNY and Amy Lipton. (and this will continue).

At the center of the project and Todd Sargood has been key in reminding me of this, is the exploration of the Role of the Artist . For those who care you can read yesterday 's post which touches on that subject (below). This for me has become the resonant reason for continuing the project and much to many folks chagrin a constant source of conversation. The small studios being placed in unexpected places, puts those artists who take up residency , in similarly not the normal place to come across art ! And to find someone actually engaged in the process of making art,... and who is then open to discussing that activity,.. in a variety of ways.

We are entering a new chapter , and the likes of Daniel Pink seem to agree ! The artist can no longer place themselves at the periphery of their community. The irony as Brian Wallace discusses in his short introduction to the June show at the Dorsky , "was that the artist although immersed in the culture has found themselves at the edge of the community they work in ". The Transition ZONE ! The question that I now pose is that as artists, can we continue this marginal role and be forced out of any meaningful existence OR can we change this paradigm? So that what Habitats for Artists was is changing in to what it needs to become ! (or more pronounced ! ). In short a habitat for artists !! A place in the community that encourages artists to engage with a broader audience and with a broader , a more meaningful subject matter. Subjects that resonate with a community and the artist is capable and able to help the community envision. This is the ability and willingness to see the Bigger Picture !

It is with this intention that HFA aims to continue and grow . To continue working with a series of groups and a variety of organizations where the artist is placed as the catalyst for a new kind of dialogue. The act of engaging with an audience with out prior knowledge of what might be created. Within this aim HFA also seeks to discover what role the artist might become and be sustained by the community the artist works in . A whole new Mind !?

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I've been working on this new HFA project for a good two months . Talking with individuals and getting their input to help guide the outline and structure of the NEW project happening in Philipstown next year. At the heart of it all is this key idea of working to change the Artist's usual ROLE in the community . Over many years the artist has allowed themself to become a peripheral entity , to a point of now seemingly surprised irrelevance ! OUCH ?

Too much ? I don't think so ,.... the bulk of people are NOT impacted by the once called FINE arts. Not to the extent that leads say the GATES project in NYC , by CHRISTO and JEAN CLAUDE ,to become a phenomena in that it attracted a large amount of people to the park during an unseasonal time to experience that ART work . Much of the work now being produced has become a pandering to an entitled few . The artist has allowed themselves to be engaged in widget making on any scale. The next , new idea soon becomes passe and the artist scurries back to the studio to try and invent the new enticing widget and win court favor !

Many artists enjoy this activity and have become defined by it . Damien Hirst having pronounced the Death Of Painting , now paints (badly) to the courtiers and art elect , but the majority of us remain " NOT AMUSED" . And to take this point further most artists subject matter for the most part is unfortunately so personal or bland that most people have little interest in comprehending what its' about . OR really care . WHY ? Because ART has lost, in the majority of cases an IMPACT, or relevance . Whilst the bulk of art occurs there is a sense of Nero fiddling whilst Rome burns ?

I think we are at the height of this state currently. The juxtaposition of the failure of the economy and the inability to effectively grasp that alternatives need to be found ( or we are on the road to the next economic crash ) with articles on whether a gallery will survive the economic drought, illustrate this predicament. When there is rising unemployment and we can't even get our Gov't to conceive of effective Health care ,.....who cares !?

As an artist are we trained to block this out and continue with Business as Usual ? Return to our studios and continue Fiddling ? OR can we become involved in the NEW Vision which it seems many now need to SEE ? Is this all too broad and inconceivable to most of us ? Including alot of artists ? OR is our current role such that we DON'T become involved as its not our business ? Return to the garret and work on the next collectible widget . The artist as the child is requested not to worry themselves with the REAL world . So what are we imagining ?

What if we , as artists RE imagined our role as playing a central role in our culture , our society so we were contributing to it by helping solve and realize some of the solutions to the community we live in rather than observing or making snide remarks ? We could be good at imagining a better world, of seeing potential, of realizing the abstract . What if we engaged in a larger canvas that took us out of our usual context and began engaging in ideas that need now to be helped and conceived ? Started to explore a new role for the artist and the creative practice which enlisted others in a series of new dialogues on many topics that need a new vision ?

There are the beginnings of grass roots groups of artists that are starting to engage in this way in various communities and redefining the assumed artist's role . The likes of the Harrisons are becoming or gaining relevance to our current predicament . Artists in Wisconsin taking the local CSA farmstands and turning them into works of art ....along the roadside. Seemingly a small step but relevant as it changes the context of art occurring only in sanctioned places !BUT this isn't new in any way .... DADA .... nearly a 100 years ago now was actively upsetting the established realm of art .

So ask yourself if you want to begin to be a part of rolling the ball forward or continue in the usual practice which is for most of us highly unsustainable and To Continue the current STATUS QUO ?Many artists claim to ask their audiences QUESTIONS in their work maybe now its time to ASK ourselves what are the types of questions we are asking !

As a friend recently said NO I don't have all the answers but I do want to be part of the change for the future because I believe it to be of value .

BUT is this the place of art , does it make for GOOD art ? I'd say by the current state of things we don't have a lot to lose , cos I sure as heck do not want the likes of Damien being my representative in the Senate of Culture ! Do you ?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Just got back from Philly !! Wow ,... return journey a little longer than usual but a good day with the studio getting wrapped up . I 've been joking that we had to wrap up the project and thats what we were actually doing. Ensuring that winter won't or at least it's effect lessened by getting some tarps on the roof and over the windows and door so all alittle better protected . Normally not a big deal but this is the one we want to go forward to become the studio on campus at BCC.
Burlington Community College NJ , which I believe is around 45 miles due east of Philadelphia .

We unscrewed around a 100 tiles. Tiles that were painted there and others from New Paltz that we had applied to the studio's exterior . These we hope to use again on the various projects coming up next year . We also took down the cabana structure behind the studio and we'll be reusing these parts in other habitat studios . Fortunately weather wise it was perfect . Brisk but not too cold that made undoing the structure a pleasant activity especially at this time of the year.

We're looking forward to moving the studio to the new site come spring and working again with Jeff , who has been pivotal in getting the project to the new BCC site !

Well that about wraps things up for 2009 .Now the planning and meetings to steer the new project in the Hudson Valley plus some others lurking ,... but that's another day .

Later SD

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HABITAT FOR ARTISTS at Philipse Brook , Philipston NY

We're making plans to bring the project to Philipstown next year . So far we have had some really important , initial support from individuals and groups in the area , and its continuing .We've come up with what we think is going to be a hybrid project . An amalgamation of some of the initial ideas when it first was at Spire Studios in Beacon , and lessons learnt in New Paltz this past year. We hope we can also sustain some satellite interests .We'll be looking to grow the number of studios at the CSA farm near Beacon , and venture in to new territory around Hudson NY.

Had a great chat with Tim and Devin from the Beacon CSA about ideas that could be used in the context of the farm . Devin will be moving on to help legislation down in DC so who knows HFA might get to go to Washington , Mr Smith ?? Tim and I will be continuing this dialog in the new year.

For next year's selection of artists at the project in Philipstown we now have a terrific panel. Made up of past HFA artists and local curators plus an art writer you may have heard of ,....
They will be formulating guidelines so artists can propose projects for a 3 week residency
or less and encouraging artists to collaborate with various groups in the community . We hope to encourage a variety of work combining topics that deal with land use as well as purely visual devices but all looking to put art in the every day and encourage new dialogue about visual stuff !! AND more !

We'll be teaming up with some usual suspects and some new partners to see how far we can take the dialogue . We hope to be partnering with Chris Kennedy from Artiscycle . Chris was at Solar 1 and developed a great book called The Green Innovator . Dionis Ortiz from Work Space Harlem will be getting involved with the project in a number of ways . WSH will be holding an exhibit of past HFA artists in the Spring and Dionis will be taking up a residency at HFA some time in the Summer. We hope to get the studio back at Poets Walk and be working with Scenic Hudson again . We've a plan to make the studio there exclusively for Writers(working with the
theme of the Park !) . Chris Albert might be back with us as he heads up a proposal with the Beacon Community Center next spring .

A big part of this next project will be OUTREACH . Getting a variety of volunteers to help with a variety of tasks . Getting the community in and helping and participating with all sorts of projects we have planned . From helping build the studios to help in the creation of new work and getting to document the project and blog about the whole thing !

So young and old , and all kinds of experience will be welcomed as we start to build the community with in the community . We'll be coming up with new stuff and recycling some of the old stuff ... so it only gets better ! If you're in the area and want to get involved get in touch
SOON ! As usual stay well , stay healthy and eat heartily but know where the food comes from !! Best SD.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


This one really hit me recently and I am quoting a good friend , Joe P.  in reply to an improved idea I had proposed....his response was .."its the new three 'R's ,  reuse , recycle , restore ." 

As a mantra that might be applied to a lot of what is going on today and obviously , seasonally
as GIFT giving comes around in that frenetic , head spinning ,and  mind numbing way .What are we left with ? So stepping outside the realm of perhaps making some THING out of old other things what if we applied this new R mantra to the season of GIVING .(Though its better than buying new ).

What might be restored ,.. perhaps MEANING ?  We is fast over taken by ME , and it seems we have suffered by accumulated ME s so step one , (1)  what does or could this season mean ??
AND how might it benefit US ? Inherent in cultures that adopt belief systems other than what is in front of me is the idea of the group. AND preserving that group . Taking care in all manner of ways the health and welfare , and being of that group . So what might it mean to GIVE to your group , yeah lets start with your immediate community , your neighbor , a friend ,... now you're thinking about some one else other than yourself .  What might you give to them ?

(2) Recycle ,...   there are some great ideas , and philosophies that might just be re looked at and brought into parlance again . As well as perhaps looking at some of those things you have that you haven't looked at for an age sitting on the shelf , sitting in the basement , waiting to have relevance again .  The idea of using this particular time to bump start our economy so we can have more stuff accumulate ... it's not a good idea . Lets add another R ,  RETHINK . If and it is if we are going to get out of this current pickle in ain't going to be plying others with more stuff ? So it 'd be great to look through and repurpose some THINGs that others might not have and enjoy even USE ?

(3) REUSE ,.....    how much stuff didn't get used first time or hardly used . The paper bag or ooohh the plastic bag ? One use from shop to larder . Then OUT it goes . None of these are new ideas  , I 'm just recycling some old ideas that I recall from some 30 odd years ago . Yep I was brought up unbending nails . What ?  8d , 12 d all kinds of nails so I could fix something broken.
Though there is one thing really over used and that is this OLD make more MODEL that should be thrown out . NOW.  And getting back to the season , how about getting your kids to re box a toy and give it to a younger kid ? And have it come from that older kid , that now has a cool factor added to it ....which makes up for the lack of wrapping !! and MORE . 

Its really hard to walk around seeing creative ways of getting folks to buy stuff we don't really need. I was handed by my son a list of things he thought he wanted . Aside of the large dollar items which I winced at , I asked him to give a set of reasons as to why he needed these things. .How would his life benefit , how could this thing enhance his life aside of its cool ? Were there unseen aspects to having this be a part of your life ? Would others benefit by its use ?? 

Some of his answers did examine these other benefits and he did come up with some real added bonuses to having one or two things added to his life (style). 

I am NOT going to steal or demean the essence of this Holiday . I would however like to RE examine what it MEANS for us as a family , for us as a community and beyond ... the world at hand , and I am NOT saying DON'T enjoy yourself . Perhaps extend a hand to those who won't be spending the holidays with family or friends .  I joked with a garden group I 'm in about having a post holiday group dinner that was "Sustainable" ? Perhaps I wasn't joking ?

Three , now there's an old idea .... perhaps we can look at that again , the NEW three R s 
can be quite useful . Oh and by the way DO NOT buy your tree just yet it won't get to the 25th
inside your house ...  and what are you going to do with it after ? At least find out if its chipped in your municipality . 

So as the parties begin perhaps sharing good cheer and and imbibing good micro beer where possible is a good idea . Where it becomes a quick fix to some thing that needs to be carefully repaired , you may want to re look at the larger picture and envision your part a little more creatively ?   You might also want to walk home too ?? Or use public transport ...mmmmm.

Best and as always , be well !  SD

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Or , sorry that 's an opener, taking care of Health Care . This subject has been looming and it'll hit a head as it's potential improvement (or NOT) gets voted on by the Senate this week . There's alot of debate about the now called , Public Option , which has been renamed and covers those unable to get health coverage . How it'll work or whether it'll work is under debate ,... and depending how the question gets asked whether the public at large understands the importance of the option ??

What seems really misunderstood is that every year thousands of people are dying due to lack of any health care coverage . They have NO choice , NO option currently . If you need further prompting go to to days NY Times and read Nicholas D. Kristof's  article 'Are We Going To Let  John Die ?' . Note the figure he quotes as Americans dying each year from NO health care is.... 45,0000.  For a further read on the health care debate go to .

I was reading these various articles thinking why aren't we encouraging people to EAT better ?
The then came across Melanie Warner"s article in the Business section today (SUNDAY) on the program initiated by Zoe Finch Totten called Full Yield which looks to offer cafeterias of large businesses better /healthier options for Lunch . With added benefits and adding incentives for employees to eat better and perhaps lose weight , also exercise more a healthier work force is being seen as a benefit , both as less of a strain on company health insurances and improved wellness... "adding things to your life and feeling better psychologically and physically ...." Sounds good !?  

My query is why we aren't looking at this issue from a larger perspective and with the Full Yield approach encouraging more people to EAT well . We're bogged down in the notion of choice and which plan we choose when we're sick ... NOT improving our life style choices so we might NOT get sick ? WE're also engaged in producing so much UNHEALTHY food and pumping vast quantities of anti-biotics into animals in the production of Meat , we are producing super strains of Bacteria which lead to other health issues ,....  

Sustainable food production seems as important as what insurer to choose for Health Care ? If we are constantly feeding ourselves less nutritious foods and exercising less we're going to be sicker MORE often. AND we could afford NOT letting John die , by being healthier as a whole. BUT we're not taught to think of the whole ... it's MY choice , MY right .... 

Which funnily enough brings us on to Micheal Sendel's new book : JUSTICE "what's the right thing to do ?" (a profressor of Govt' at Harvard ) which looks at how politics and a certain preception of justice effect policy . There's coverage of theories of justice as well as honed explainations of the ideas of Aristotle/ Bentham/Kant/ Mill and Rawls . I quote the book review " virtuosic untangling of Kant's notorious knots , in under 40 pages ."

There's something truly strange when a society can allow a large part of it's populace to dye due to not being 'cared for ' and yet almost simultaneously preach value of life and sanctity of that life BUT allow such an injustice to prevail ? As though those dying had made that CHOICE.

There's a larger examination here and one which we ALL need to start looking at if we are going to really work on fixing the Economy , our Education system , the Financial institutions , the Mortgage rate , the Car Industry , the HealthCare System , the Energy Crisis which is what defines a healthy, fulfilled life and HOW we support that life ( or NOT ) ?

I think we need to take a much more creative approach to many of these issues which are so inter connected yet we keep treating the symptoms not looking at what produced the condition
They're big issues but if you really care you might start by making the choice about your next meal ?  And yes so close after Thanksgiving and just before the next major Holiday season ,....

Its akin to making art you first have to start asking why you might be making a piece of art ?
Then how ,....

When it hits home it starts to feel real when you start connecting you begin to see the me in them and perhaps start to relate to the WHOLE ?

But thats another topic .

later SD

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I tried to post this yesterday but for what ever reason I couldn't get the server to accept it ,...

After an extended period of taking the HFA studios down and bringing them in for the winter there has been new activity in  planning the next events and improving aspects of the project .

HFA is finalizing arrangements to bring the project to the central Hudson Valley region in Putnam County . We are securing a site and a supporting host , plus a number of initial sponsors who will help build six new HFA studios in 2010 . We want to have 6 artists help  build these initial six studios on site , with a possibility of more being built as interest grows and we find different groups to partner with . This initial 'hub' site will continue to have workshops on different topics through out a 5 to 6 month period , with artists taking up 3 week residencies with a potential to work together and with other community groups.  

There will be an Art Panel who will select the artists based on proposals and guidelines HFA is currently putting together. HFA is encouraging the next set of artists to work with a number of themes especially concerning such topics as energy , land use , farming , food and sustainable practices as well as ecological or green issues . There is a potential to engage with 30 artists 
this next season and create a vibrant catalyst for new dialogue and exploration.

We will be seeking internships with area colleges and building on community outreach programs in the next few months. 

Odin Cathcart will be heading up a HFA project in Vermont . Now the Exhibitions Curator at the Helen Dat Gallery in Stowe , Odin will be looking to build several HFA studios around the
Stowe area and engage with a number of colleges and Vermont artists. There is an exhibition of artist's work who have participated in  the HFA project planned for the new year at the Helen Day Gallery .

Burlington Community College , NJ  looks as if it will be taking the studio from SCEE in Philly.
Jeff Bailey has been heading up this effort to bring the project and the one studio to BCC .,some time in the Spring of 2010. We have been putting together a plan to have the project take on the potential of working with different departments and growing and being sustained over a few years . This will be an interesting on campus project where the artists studios become the focus of other dialogs with other disciplines , and art integrates with other departments like engineering and the culinary school (to be) . 

Work Space Harlem will be host to a HFA studio workshop and Exhibition of HFA artists in 
March of 2010 . Details , sponsors and specific dates are still being discussed with WSH manager, Dionis Ortiz . Dionis was instrumental in helping HFA partner with Urban Go Green
enabling a studio to be built at WSH !

HFA will be posting a NEW website in 2010 . There will be some changes in the look and content of the project . We are currently looking to have those blueprints and a manual done by early 2010 . Expect to see a NEW T shirt as well , our old supply is dwindling . 

HFA is  partnering with Scott Gibson of Ecopioneer and there'll be explorations into the HFA studio taking on different solar applications and H2O collection systems . Scott has a site up in Kingston which we'll be looking to develop in a number of ways where alternate design and technology fuse with art ... with a view to what's sustainable ?

Lastly HFA will be working on posting some of the pictures of this year's activities in New Paltz New York City , and Philadelphia  which we missed posting BUT want you to see and know about, as we work on the NEW site for 2010 .

We'll be posting new topics  over the winter as we develop the new projects for the various sites for 2010. And we hope to engage with new writers and contributors to the project on a number of issues , as we see the Art and cultural sections of regional publications dry up !

Talk soon , stay well    SD

Saturday, November 14, 2009

CONVERSATIONS AT THE BARN , Saturday November 14th

We have had one of those exciting weeks where you're computer gets compromised and you don't know what information is left unscathed . So amidst this technical debacle the job of blogging  got put squarely to one side .  So apologies for this late post of Joan  Bankemper's invitation to meet
for "Conversations at The Barn" located at East Ridge Rd , Warwick , N Y. at 6pm Sat Nov.14th .

Joan wants to have regular meetings or conversations at The Barn . The goal is to create a dialogue about sustainability. This week she has invited four speakers  who have studied in four
diverse corners of sustainability : a curator, a lawyer an artist and a farmer. Each will give a short
presentation of their concerns in their respective worlds.

Joan will also be serving soup , hot cider and beer to wet you appetites but bring something for
something more substantial .

The guest speakers will be :  Guy Jones , of Blooming Hill Farm , Amy Lipton co founder of ecoartspace , Caroline G. Harris lawyer and artist  and Simon Draper artist and Hudson Valley
resident , originator of the HFA project .

It'll be an informal affair and I think you'll need to dress appropriately as it will i n the Barn !

This week saw the last of the Habitat studios in the city . Todd and I took down the studio at Solar 1 despite strong winds and persistent rains . I was encouraged to see that it had worn well and was surprisingly in good shape . This is the studio that had been seen at ecoartspace in the Spring then moved to East 23rd for Solar1 's CITYSOL event in July and then moved to one side
for the Out door Film festival there in September. 

Monday I took down the indoor studio at Work Space Harlem , on 141st and 5th Ave , and we hope to be having a workshop building a studio there in the new year . Keep posted !!

At some point we have to wrap up , and I mean that literally as well as figuratively the studio at SCEE, Philadelphia . It looks as if through the efforts of one of the summer's participating artists , Jeff Bailey , we will be moving the studio east to Burlington Community College NJ. We hope to be doing this in the Spring of next year and are currently planning how the project will take shape there . We hope to be able to involve not only artists and art students but other groups in other areas , especially engineering and culinary arts . I hope to see further applications of the studio manifesting itself as not only a studio but a kitchen , a work shop or 
a mix of things . Perhaps a hybrid space in which it takes on the character it needs to ,enabling
new ideas to come into the project . 

We are pioneering new alternatives with Scott Gibson , of ECOPIONEER . Scott has come up with a wonderful solar system that uses the run off water in a number of ways . He and I have been discussing this idea which came up in discussion between us a couple of weeks ago whilst brainstorming ideas with HFA and his emergency disaster response initiative for a Buckminster Fuller proposal . More on that project later . We intend on building this solar prototype at Scott's IFEE site in Kingston NY . ( Pretty soon weather permitting ). He has some parts of a studio on site and we need to get the structure up before winter hits properly .
We intend this site to be a mixed use site for the merging of design /engineering ideas and art.
Oh IFEE ,.... Institute For Environmental Exploration .....yeah iffey but it works !! For others ,..
Not another outdoor art area ?? But thats limiting .

I am also looking for a site in the Garrison Area for a project to start some time in late Spring , which we can discuss is now what month ?  I've been working with Andy Chmar of HHLT  to find a suitable site and host . This promises to be quite the project and we hope to be getting a wonderful sponsor for this venture which we hope will really start to connect some dots between green building, art , farming /land use , energy and sustainable economic strategy with community !!  YES a big goal but I think its the right place and time to have this discussion .If not here , WHERE !?  It is quite the back yard to a number of notable and talented individuals who are already thinking about these issues ! So a logistical , strategy filled winter is ahead .

The Garrison Project is still being conceived but the focus is how we might set up a number of the small habitat studios in a group and have the artists work collectively as well as with other organizations  and folks in the area which touch on the areas of food , land use , conservation as well as energy and the economy . The resulting site will also influence what events we can plan around this community experiment which we hope will put many an idea into practice !

Before I wrap up for the evening , any WRITERS please write to me with regard to the NEW studio (or Writer's Shack ) at SCENIC HUDSONs Poet's Walk Park , Rhineclif f NY .  We are re furbishing it to suit writers primarily of ALL disciplines ,.... prose to poetry , history to art 
plays to documentaries ..... 2 hours to 2 weeks .  We hope to get it re installed by early summer.
Contact me at  :

Stay well , stay dry and please take a look at the NY Times current Book Review ....  

Some excellent reviews , most notably Harold Bloom's review of Peter Ackroyd's Canterbury Tales ....retold !!  Good stuff !!     Enjoy and digest    ... best  SD


Monday, November 2, 2009


We are in the last stages of taking in the various habitat studios for the winter . We have one still in New Paltz NY , on Huguenot St . We also have one left at Solar One in NYC . Another has gone indoors and is part of an Exhibit ,"Cornerstone" at Work Space Harlem . (until Nov 7th ).

In going through various papers and notes from this last year I found a piece of writing by my then 11 year old , son Aidan on the subject of UNITY . He takes on a big view with a discussion on alliances and countries' tendencies to not trust one another , which invariably leads to war. He then throws in a curve ball and I quote :

" My dad is an artist and has many believes about his art . Because his art could connect , the pieces sink in and stay connected . After a while the art would change. It might have been the colors or it could have been the whole shape. The shape would change by the removing of nails . Later the nails wold hold up a new shape with new pieces. " A reference to the many tiles people have contributed ,...   he continues :

" We must use our believes to nail in place . Every new belief can separate us or make us larger.My dad's art has shaped my whole life . Some of his art was making puzzle pieces , but  now he is working on a new project called " Habitat for Artists " . He has to keep taking these small sheds apart and changing them . He piles the pieces of wood in the back of his silver truck
From there he decides whether just to move their location or to make a new better habitat . I believe we must connect the pieces , like my dad has done , except in a global way for the sake of unity ."

In accordance with this sentiment I read a recent article in the NY  Times by Mary Tripsas in the weekends Business section on the sharing  of new innovations by companies that are of an environmentally friendly nature. In an effort to share new product ideas with out charge !!
Such as Eco-Patent Commons started in January 2008 . Following on from this will be others like the Green Xchange in 2010 .  Innovations include the use of microorganisms to identify pollutants , water based shoe adhesives and packing inserts which are recyclable and use less
fossil fuels to create and transport them. Perhaps more of us can unite under larger ideas for a better world ?

During the next few weeks I 'll be sharing a short retrospective of the year's activities with an emphasis on the artists who participated in the the project from New York City to up river to New Paltz . After a lot of activity and making its time to bring it all in and give pause for reflection . 

We''ll be bringing things inside again but at a new location in Harlem . Stay posted for events and times starting in January 2010.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This past Wednesday , October 28th , we were lucky enough to be invited to share our thoughts at the Closing Reception of the exhibit at Work Space Harlem with Talk Radio Harlem . Thankyou to Danielle and Nizer for coming out on what was a wet and blustery evening , to see what was going on at 2340 5th Ave .  After a brief interview with me about the project , Vincent Smythe who along with Tiwana Jackson had made the habitat studio happen for the Expo last Saturday , took the role as interviewer with the artists who were part of the Corner Stone show at WSH.  A  wonderful event and one filled with inspired conversations on a variety of topics .

The show runs until NOVEMBER 7th .

The interviews will be available shortly , details to follow .

Saturday, October 24, 2009


SATURDAY OCTOBER 24TH,   As well as being the International Day of Climate Action, see  .   its the 2nd Urban Go Green Expo at the Harlem Armory at 1 W 142nd St /5th Ave..

Shannon Ayala of  350. ORG. will be on the panel "Greening the Culture " at 4 30 pm ,as well as CSA farmer Tim Heuer , from Common Grounds . 

Manhattan Borough President , Scott Stringer  to address the Expo at 1 pm to 2 pm . Among his green projects are " Go Green East Harlem " . a collaborative community -based initiative aimed at breaking the pattern of harmful environmental conditions that have been part of East Harlem's history for decades. Dealing also with reduction and treatment of Asthma since 2008 , he has led the planting of hundreds of trees in the area .  As well as opening green markets to the community with the introduction of healthy ,locally grown food in the East Harlem community . In addition to these actions he has allocated $4,225, 000 to parks and playgrounds in the borough of Manhattan.

Michael Caslin III , CEO & Chairman ( Urgent VC ) The Sustainable City Solution , will be on the Green Entrepreneurship and Careers Opportunities Panel at 3 45 pm . 

Sharon Griffith of NYSERDA will be a panelist on the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Panel at 2.00pm  .The Community Outreach Manager for New York Energy Smart Communities program and NYC "s Special projects for NYS Energy research and Development Authority .

There is alot more scheduled to happen , so despite the weather make an effort to stop by ,...
further details at  .

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Its coming right up so start clearing your schedules ,....   THE 2ND URBAN GO GREEN EXPO at the Harlem Armory this SATURDAY  OCTOBER 24TH ,.....  10 to 6 pm . The Habitat for Artists project is happy to be a focal point of this green event with the installation of a NEW habitat studio by artists from Harlem and the surrounding NYC area . Featured artists will be :


I would like to thank Dionis Ortis from "Work Space Harlem " for allowing the use of work space in which we were able to build and coordinate the new studio prior to the Expo event . The studio will be on display after the Expo at the WORK SPACE HARLEM building at 2340 5th Ave .

There will be presentations by the artists on their work during the day , Tim Heuer from the Common Grounds CSA at Stonykill will be on hand to discuss other green matters as well as being a featured panelist at 4 pm ,....   there will also be a speaker who is concerned with the initiatives to LOWER Carbon emissions from the 350 Group !! Want to know more ,....drop by !

I'll be posting further details as  I get confirmation of speakers and scheduled events .

ENTRY  is on 142nd St off 5th Ave , 2nd floor .  Look for a large brick Deco building next to an AMERICAN Storage facility (yes it is red / blue and white).  Thats the 369th Armory building !

Hope to see you there for things of a greener nature !    Best SD 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We are getting ready for this week end at the Harlem Armory with the Urban Go Green Expo 09 .
And next week we finish taking down the studios in New Paltz . The Studio at SCEE in Philadelphia will stay there as it looks as if it may play forward to a college near by .  The Poets Walk Studio is getting refurbished and will be reinstalled next Spring. (Look for details) . We do have an errant studio upstate which will probably return to the fold in the spring and the studio at Solar 1 will be being dismantled some time in November . 

People ask what happens to the studios ?  Well , after getting taken apart , all the parts get stacked and we sort through them .We check which pieces need attention or replacing and we store them ready for use the next year . The point is to mix the material up as much as possible and to add new reclaimed components the next project . This way a history of material begins and each rendition becomes a part of the next chapter.  

We'll be looking to build the studios this coming year more on site . That means we'll be formatting a downloadable set of plans and hopefully a video to aid in the building of a studio. This means that other artists can resource material where they are being built and we are not transporting components long distances . This will be the case with the project in Stowe ,VT.

What about the pile of studios ?  We have several individual applications we are working on one looking to go to a local kid's doctor at his practice , another with a group locally in Beacon and we want more to appear at the CSA at Stonykill . 

There is a larger plan a foot , but we're still in planning stage so I can't say exactly what that will be ,....YET !

Enjoy the better weather we're currently having and get out side as much as possible Best SD

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

URBAN GO GREEN EXPO at Harlem Armory OCT 24th

This week as the leaves are turning I hope you get a chance to stop by at a Green Event ! NOW Saturday only 10 to 6 there is the Urban Go Green expo at the Harlem Armory at 142nd St and 5th Ave .  (Just off the FDR heading south actually still the Harlem River Drive at that point !) There will be a number of  NEW artists who have contributed to a NEW habitat studio . All materials were specifically repurposed for the habitat studio which will be showing its new art cladding this Saturday . Currently on view by appmnt at the work space Harlem at 141st St ,......

A number of the artists will be talking about their work , I'll be catching people up on things HFA with various new projects on the horizon and trying to find a HOME for this new habitat in the Harlem community . I also hope to have some of the artists who have experienced a short term residency at a habitat studio over the past couple of years to answer questions and give a short presentation . 

I'm going into today to see how things are looking and check it all goes together , so it can come apart to come together for this SATURDAY , so more soon         Later SD

PS   The SUNY Campus Habitat Studio officially came down October 15th despite the snow flurries that accompanied the journey home . The two remaining are up until the 26th so stop by to take a look , that's Main St and Huguenot St   (NOW only 6 days left !!)   NEW PALTZ NY.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WORK SPACE HARLEM studios hosts Habitat Studio

This weekend and in collaboration with HOAST (Harlem Open Artist Tour) there will be a group exhibition at the WORK SPACE HARLEM studios at 234o 5th Ave (btwn W 141st and 142nd St).

The studios will be open Saturday , October 10th , 12 to 6pm and Sunday 11th Oct 1 to 6 pm .

In room P23 the habitat studio will be part of a group exhibit of work from the studios at 2340 5th Ave.  The studio is being worked on for the next 3 weeks by a variety of artists including some from the studios , before it becomes part of the Expo at the 369th Harlem Armory , next door on October 24th (10 to 6 pm )  organized by URBAN GO GREEN .

We hope to have some of the artists from the previous HFA projects at the open studios this week end . WE will keep the habitat studio at this location and erect a new habitat at the Armory to exhibit the panels which are currently being worked on as the NEW Urban GO Green studio. This will allow new artists to have an opportunity to work in and on the habitat at the Work space Harlem studios .

We are seeking a more permanent home for the habitat studio after the EXPO and hope to engage more artists in the project through a series of short term residencies .

HFA is currently seeking sponsorship to facilitate this venture , please contact us at 

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I know we haven't finished with 2009 yet and there are projects still going on at various locations, BUT I did want to get the ball rolling with a project that is very close to me for various reasons. This our partnering with the CSA at Stonykill , Beacon NY .

As you may already know we have one studio there NOW and it will provide storage for various items over the winter . With recent conversations and more to come with the farmers Tim and Devin , the idea of putting more studios for artists to use next year came about .

BUT it depends on your input , and this is where I 'd like to have readers participate (in a number of ways) conceptually and if in the region , physically . Added to this I would also like to start a campaign to raise money to pay for the installation of two additional studios and to try and have $ for each artist's residency . This is our model for community sponsored art . It's success depends on YOU !

IF you are an ARTIST in the Hudson Valley Region please contact me if you would like to be considered for a short term residency at the CSA . We hope to have a summer program with courses for kids of all ages . BUT this will depend obviously on interest and funds.

IF you would like to DONATE to this PROJECT at the CSA , ECOARTSPACE is involved with the project and contributions are TAX deductible , any amount will be welcome . Again contact me at for those details .

Once again more details will be forthcoming as we pack things away and use the winter to gather interest and ideas , as well as work on making the project available in a number of ways through the internet and small press , or downloadable book versions . Who knows we may do a HOW TO RAISE YOUR STUDIO ROOF video , available at coffee shops nearer YOU !? Later SD.


OCTOBER 3RD the event at Solar 1 is NOW tomorrow SUNDAY OCT.4TH .This is due to the bad weather which seems to be socked in . So JOIN us tomorrow around 10 am to Raise the
Studio Roof !! All hands welcome to rebuild the Habitat Studio at E 23rd St by the East River.

ECOARTSPACE : The project room at 53 Mercer St NYC has an OPENING RECEPTION for the "DOWN TO EARTH " exhibit , PART 2 . TONIGHT at 6pm !! All the artists from the project started in Philadelphia at SCEE and some NEW additions (see listing link below).

Hope to see you at these events and to catch up on what has been developing with the project .We have an opportunity to work with a group in Germany , but we will be providing the plans through the net and hope to have a video HOW TO BUILD component as well !

Scott Gibson is hatching some wild plans with ECOPIONEER partnering with HFA and ecoartspace. BUT more on this later .

URBANGOGREEN HABITAT STUDIO is being played forward from Solar 1 to a site opposite the Harlem Armory where it will be worked on by a new group of artists , led by Vincent Smythe . Press Release with details will be posted shortly .

Stay well , stay dry see you at one of these events SOON . SD

Friday, October 2, 2009


YES   October 3rd at SOLAR 1   ....tomorrow providing we DON'T get rained out !!
We are at E 23rd St  re locating and building the habitat studio .

Monday 5th and any one who wants to help , I will be taking apart the 'other' habitat so it can be moved to a new site in Harlem .  We have a donated site where we can place the habitat studio so it can be worked on by several artists from the metropolitan area ready for the URBANGO GREEN expo at the Harlem Armory  October 24 and 25th  !!

More details to follow ,this is fresh off the wire stay posted !   SD

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oct 3rd: ecoartspace, Solar One, & Habitat For Artists event

Please join ecoartspace and Solar One on Saturday Oct. 3rd for events with the Habitat for Artists Collective.

A performance piece Mothers and Daughters at Solar One by artist Chere Krakovsky from 1 – 4pm.

Solar One - East 23rd Street and the East River, NYC
Map here.

Followed by an opening at ecoartspace NYC, for Down to Earth from 6 – 8pm

ecoartspace - 53 Mercer St. between Broome and Grand, 3rd Fl, NYC
Map here.

Down to Earth Artists:

Joan Bankemper, Knox Cummin, Stacy Levy, Ann Rosenthal/Steffi Domike, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Simon Draper and the Habitat for Artists Collective, including Todd Sargood, Cathy Lebowitz,E Odin Cathcart and Jeff Bailey.

Additional Contributing Artists:

Jacinto Astiazarán and Fritz Haeg, Lenore Malen & The New Society for Universal Harmony, Eve Mosher, Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga, Andrea Reynosa/Kevin Vertrees-SkyDog Projects and Christy Rupp.

ecoartspace is a nonprofit operating from both the east and west coasts in a growing community of artists, designers, scientists, curators, writers, nonprofits and businesses internationally who are developing creative and innovative strategies to address our global environmental issues. We promote a diverse range of artworks that are participatory, collaborative, interdisciplinary and uniquely educational.

Facebook event page.

More information here.

Monday, September 21, 2009


We are putting together an event at Solar 1 , on October 3rd . There will be various artists bringing their works and applying them to the new shed studio at 23rd St and East River . BUT before all that can happen WE will be building the NEW studio . So Sue Hope Altkin , if you are reading we will be doing that WORKSHOP ..... or more a SHED RAISING !! Bring tools , and heft .

Chere Kravosky will be doing a performance "Mothers and Daughters " bteween 1 and 4 , and there will be talks by various artists and curators including ecoartspace's Amy Lipton.

We are hoping to get a local CSA from the Hudson Valley with produce and they will also present a short talk on Alternate Farming in the Hudson Valley . Especially pertinent after the weird summer we had this year !!

We're hoping to get going around 11 , so bring tools if possible and note pads as there will be a
short step by step on how to build YOUR habitat studio .

Also presenting material we hope to have URBAN GO GREEN , inner city green initiatives from
start up opportunities to training for green jobs . We are currently working with UGG and will be showing a new habitat studio at their expo , October 24/25th at the Harlem Armory.NYC.

Here's hoping for more of this wonderful FALL weather continuing through October .

Stay posted ...SD

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We recently took down the habitat studio at SCENIC HUDSON's Poet's Walk Park , Redhook NY. The paintings had weathered quite well and the color for the most part still vibrant . I want to thank those of you who left their comments either on the studio or in the comments box. There was a diverse range of response to the shed , some positive some very dismissive . What I found interesting were the notions of nature and natural surroundings in which there were many points of reference to an object in the landscape. For the most part we are culturally imbued with notions of beauty or natural beauty with out a point of reference . But I'll get back to that later. Amidst this interesting and somewhat polemical range of comments we found that the creatures in the park had quickly adapted the studio to their own needs .

We found that in the rafters both hornets and yellow jackets had built extensive nests . Above the one window ants had found enough cellulose and moisture to build an extensive home. A small field mouse had established two abodes for herself and her young , one in the floor and one behind some of the artwork on the work bench. Below the habitat floor around the footings was a nest of garter snakes who were glad of the shelter. A boston creeper or similar ivy had started to climb the north side and the studio was surrounded by the various plants now growing in that field . A testament to how "Nature " adapts to changes sometimes better than humans ?

So back to those comments ,.... my musing about this come from our whole relationship to what we perceive as natural . The park at Redhook follows the tradition of classical romantic ideas in respect of landscape. Wholly european in origin with exponents such as Capability Brown in England and Downing at the turn of this century in this region. A walk in the park where we come across an object , a folly placed to intrigue , a vista , a bridge over a stream ,.... a moment to reflect or comment upon in the our course of walking. BUT this groomed landscape was created in europe by the centuries of clear cutting , building fleets of frigates for the Navy and scaling machines to lay siege to some castle ,.... and building houses .

The fields we now walk in, all along the Hudson were for the most part Forested . From this fine exponent of the classic park at Red hook we have a grand view of the untamed mountains of the Catskills a beautiful juxta position to the rolling 'tamed ' fields . The small studio shared this view with many a visitor to the park , yet for some its placement there seemed an afront to the natural beauty surrounding it rather than a compliment , both were shaped by human hand ,.....
save the mountains . Our notions of beauty in the landscape groomed by generations of classical romantic painters who ultimately influenced the Hudson River School . During the height of this Painting school , the views were being pock marked by the rise of the Industrial Revolution ,...the very Railroad that brought these painters and poets up the valley tore through many land masses and mountains in order to be built.

Many of these fine Estates in the Hudson Valley were built from this new wealth and fueled the new age of Industry and Urban dwelling .... a wonderful counter point to the landscape in the growing slums of the Lower East Side of NYC ?

Meanwhile the old residents of the habitat sudio have had to find new dwellings in their 'natural ' Habitat . Some may return to the studio at its new location in the Park next Spring .We'll see ...

In the meantime enjoy the view , and I'll be reading more comments left for thought and contemplation at the old studio at Poets Walk Park , Redhook NY.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Wendy Bounds , will moderate a panel discussion on the habiat for artists project this Thursday evening , September 24th at 7pm on the SUNY New Paltz Campus. There will be a number of artists who participated in the project , curators Amy Lipton and Brian Wallace and Board Trustee Shai Osborn . Also joining the panel will be Richard Heyl De Ortiz Director of Public Programs at HHS . Please make a note of this event if you wish to attend , and add your comments.

SEPTEMBER 9th Saw the dismantling of the Ecotones Show at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY
with the "in museum" habitat studio getting de installed . The various parts and materials will be finding their way into other habitat studios over the next few projects to come .

SEPTEMBER 10th We moved the two habitat studios at SOLAR 1 in NYC to make room for their outdoor film series running over the next couple of weeks . OCTOBER 3rd we are planning a joint event with Solar1 and eoartspace . Details to be announced.

SEPTEMBER 12th Despite the grotty weather we had a wonderful turnout for the reception of the 'Down To Earth' exhibit at SCEE in Philadelphia . Thankyou to Cathy Lebowitz , Jeff Bailey and Todd Sargood who were instrumental in this project occurring and who were in attendance that day . Unfortunately Odin Cathcart couldn't be there as he had previous engagements in VT
at the Helen Day Gallery, Stowe. Thankyou to the SCEE staff who were key to the gardens surviving since planting in June ,.... and thanks to Amy Lipton , for her inspired show concept!

SEPTEMBER 14th HFA , partnering with URBAN GO GREEN , gave a presentation to the HARLEM ARTS ALLIANCE , at the theater of Riverside Church NYC to gain interest from visual artists and others in participating in the project which will be part of UGGs 2nd ANNUAL EXPO at the Harlam Armory on OCTOBER 24 /25th .Thanks to HAA Executive Director , Michael Unthink and Tiwana Jackson of UGG for making this possible .

SEPTEMBER 16th The habitat studio at SCENIC HUDSON"s , POET"s WALK Park,Redhook NY was removed from its bucolic setting to get a little 'TLC' over the winter and will return to the park at a NEW site . We will be looking for WRITERS to take up short term residencies at the studio in the Spring of 2010. Further postings about will be announced .

As you can see we have been very active of late and will be posting a variety of pix from these events. Remember we still have THREE (3) habitat studios in New Paltz , more on those Monday . Chris Brandon just finished his writers residency at HHS and will be drafting a story from the many suggested stories he collected whilst at his temporary writers shack there.

Common Grounds Farm at Stonykill had their benefit Picnic Sunday 13th and we'll be hearing how that went from Tim and Devin this week end . We were able to pay fwd some material from other studios and combine with the boards the GREEN TEENS painted during the Summer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SCEE Philadelphia MORE PICKS


The interior of the Studio cum Shed at SCEE Philadelphia this past week , more pix to show of this project .

The window installed at the Old Main Circle on campus at SUNY New Paltz , last month .

The first install of the habitat studio at Solar 1 , the "Hidden Drive "sign was stolen 2 days later !


Changing the Habitat Booth at Solar 1 , to a working wall for Todd B to use this week , 8/17/09

An early stage in the Habitat studio/shed at Common Ground CSA at Stony Kill NY

Habitat Studios Update AUGUST 23rd 2009

I just wanted to get some of the latest pictures up on the blog as I have been promising for some time and have been unable to get time to sort and file. Well now I have and here they are . Just a brief re-cap . I was recently in the City (NYC) and the artist, Todd Betterly has started there at the Solar 1 Habitat studio at E 23rd St and East River. We , Todd S and I were in Philly at the studio at SCEE this past Wednesday and I was in New Paltz to meet with a new resident artist

Chris Brandon , a writer , who will be starting at HHS , August 30th , this past Tuesday . Ustya is going to be extending her time at the invitation of the folks at HHS (Huguenot Historical Street). I hear that Patti Nelson has found her "pipe" and has been reconstructing the habitat studio on campus. Ayesha is back on Main and painting up a storm , she also has HFA T-shirts !! (nudge !).

A MIX OF PIX .......... above is Molly Rausch at her Lost and Found Booth on Main St New Paltz

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I have to say , and Todd will attest to this , I was a little nervous about what to expect. When you go away for a week on vacation you 're a bit unsure as to how much or how little , rain has fallen or things have grown (especially weeds) . SO here we are gardening from afar with reports from the center as to watering and weeding , but I had no sense of how well the plants were doing . Especially with the recent blight in our region with Tomatoes devastated .... 

We had also alloted to grow in the fresh tilled soil and add some composted material , but hadn't established a feeding regime . The other gardens at the center had been built up or grown in raised beds . And used fresh organic soil from else where ,...  

So we arrived at The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education on a hot ,sunny day yesterday around 11 30 ish . On first glance there was this over riding sense of things gone hay wire . The growth in that area can be staggering and the heat sometimes has a tropical feel to it.
As we entered the compound , the deer fenced area of allotments the various lots started to show signs of doing well . The tomatoes were bearing fruit , the melon plants although small were in blossom and looking healthy , and we had a few cukes in one garden .The runner beans weren't as tall as wished for but there were flowers coming in . So all in all not an August garden, but has promise to bear fruit soon ....

After a hour of weeding each lot, things were looking a lot better and when each was watered they decidedly sparkled.    We then started to apply some of the new tiles to the habitat studio 
which had been done by a group of children from the center's summer camp and by an adult education program near the center. We also bought material from the Main Street Habitat in New Paltz which had been painted by Todds SUNY painting class , earlier his year .

We were fortunate in between all this activity to have a visit and interview from Philadelphia columnist , Bruce Schimmel . Bruce writes for the City Paper and covers many aspects of Phillys art and cultural events , especially of a "green" nature ! After a little bit of a rusty start we got the interview going in which Bruce recorded a varied sound interview with me describing the project with all its various connections and relationships . 

After getting a new reclaimed window in the one west side we cleaned up , having taken Tim and Devin's cue of painting your sheds brightly !! Tim and Devin are the Common Ground CSA farmers at Stonykill NY . A few more photos and back on the bus ,.... I mean pick up 
loaded and hope nothing spills (  I always have an assortment of paint cans and open boxes of screws after an install , you never know what you might use !!) 

Photos to follow.   I 'd like to thank all the staff at the center who have organized the various teen volunteers , especially Zoe Cohen and Mary Salvante . In fact we met Kim our next water volunteer before leaving who'll be watering Mondays ....   Many thanks .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Huguenot Habitat Studio New Paltz NY

Here is the habitat studio at Huguenot Street , New Paltz , nestled in the cedar grove which has not only helped in the heat , but provided an extra layer of protection from the many summer rain storms . This has appealed to the artists who wanted a quieter residence for their 3 week working stint. There has been a great rapport with the artists who have been here this season and the various staff who run the HHS . Historical Huguenot Street not society ! Those directly involved PJ , Richard and Shari . Many Thanks !!

The Habitat Studio in Philadelphia

This is the Habitat Studio in Philadelphia at The Schuykill Center (for Environmental Education)or SCEE. This was earlier in the year before our summer of torrential rains and the North east
Potato / Tomato Blight.

This particular habitat studio was sponsored by the center and curated by Amy Lipton of ecoartspace NY for the show "DOWN TO EARTH" , Artists Create Edible Landscapes. This was the precursor to our getting involved with Tim and Devin at Common Grounds CSA at Stonykill NY (near Beacon) .

Behind it it was what we referred to as the Cabana , which was a covered outdoor area which we could use for classes and prepping plants , seed trays or as a prep area for out door cooking .

One Pick up , One habitat Studio

The Basic elements fit on to the back of my Tacoma p/u Truck . I've made a couple of bed attachments to "float " larger sections on and can attach by screwing down with Stimson framing hard ware . This allows quite a bit of mobility and cuts down on hand hauling. The pick up truck is the ultimate wheel barrow . I am patiently waiting for the Tacoma to have a turbo diesel model so I can use bio diesel fuel. That or they go hybrid ??

The Basic Structure

Here you can see the floor attached to frame , with the 4 corner "columns " or posts with the 71 "
Rails attached horizontally ( 1 by 4 s) elements in photo above, running left to right at 32" on center. The ends are framed out to produce an opening 48 by 82 high ,with a header box frame.

Habitat Studios 2009

I thought it might be good to recap on how the habitat studios work this year.

In New Paltz we gained Village Board approval to put them at various sites in the village.There were limited zoning issues as they are classed as temporary structures. We recommended a 2 by 6 crib frame that was affixed to the ground with rebar or lag bolts , depending on field conditions.

Here Ryan Cronin and I attach the 2 by 4 floor frame to the 2by 6 crib frame which was partially dug in and levelled , then pinned to the ground with re-bar.


I was just visiting Tim and Devin , the farmers at the Common Ground CSA at Stonykill near Beacon yesterday to see how things were going. Many of you may have seen the NY Times article recently "You say Tomato , I say Agricultural Disaster ".

They with countless other organic farmers have seen the loss of their Tomato crop due to the blight helped along by the wet un typical Summer weather we've been having. It appears the fungus is also a threat to their potatoes , and is the same fungal disease that caused the Potato Famine in Ireland in the mid 19th Century.

Where a field of tomatoes or another crop has to be ripped out and destroyed as their is NO organic solution to the disease you suddenly see the reality of making a choice to grow or buy organic produce . It 's been a veritable topic of conversation as to the unseasonal amount of rain there has been and how for many they've had a great summer as they work outside and the temperatures and humidity have been lower. BUT if you were also wanting a good local organic salad with some fresh tomatoes ,.... you'll be having to pay more for them now . Or they are not available when you go to pick up your share at the local CSA .

On the other hand the Greens , the kales and similar plants have been loving the alternate weather this summer. So you adapt ,..... but these are the hard choices when you opt for a less toxic form of produce . And most organic farmers know this , and that's part of the realities of a principled decision to grow with out the array of pesticides, fungicides and petro fertilizers .

Unfortunately the blight wasn't helped by the effects of the large agro-business entities who compounded the situation by allowing thousands of tomato plants on to the market which were contaminated back in April. The usual box stores , that require excessive numbers to ensure low prices every day , had a part to play in this frustrating situation.

Despite this underminded blow to their efforts ,Tim and Devin have continued to work hard on ensuring that other crops made the farm stand. When I was there chatting in the field Tim , Kim and Devin were digging up some handsome carrots . And in a creative outburst this past weekend they've managed to bring some vibrant color to the various structures around the yard

There was the most brightly painted Hen house in the field I have ever seen . So despite the realities and consequences of a crop lost , the team at Common Ground found that something sunny can come in a different form. The reality of art and agri-Culture was met in this wonderful creative act. I shall be finding more time to continue working on the habitat studio there,inspired by this healing activity , this week.

I think there is a wonderful lesson here and also a strong argument of how different worlds can impact each other , the one detrimentally the other rejuvenative , healing some times in the face of adversity . These are the choices we make , and how we make sense and learn from them not always coming with a price tag ,.... these are invaluable .

I 'm off to Philadelphia tomorrow to see how the gardens grow there . We will be putting more material up on the habitat studio and accessing the conditions of the various lots planted .
Talk soon , SD

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Well I'm having one of those days where I really feel I ought to be outside enjoying a day of hot sun sans rain showers . On the other hand there's all this other stuff that needs to be dealt with inside. So I am going to recommend , as much to myself as to you all out there in blogos-sphere to go out and enjoy the day and the SUN !!

Man , there are a ton of things going on today in the Valley . Garrison Art Center is having a craftcome tag sale 9 to 5 , Beacon is having a Foodie thing on behalf of BCC (Beacon Community Center ) called a Taste oF Beacon , hosted by the Piggy Bank. New Paltz is having its THIRD ART LOOP Saturday . Rosendale is have their continuing PUPPET SLAM at the Black bird Theater., this afternoon. And you need only drive around in your NEW high mpg vehicle you've just bought with the CLUNKER turn in programme , to see a dozen more events this weekend .

And for those bargain shoppers there are a number of TAG sales occurring withthe fine weather.

What is it now ? Two weeks before SCHOOL starts ? Labor Day is the weekend of the 6th .?

So before you all get semi-mental about the end of another summer , not that it really got started, get off the couch and go DO something . And why am I digressing on this tack of doing something ? Well , having these various projects around the place and having many a friend in another part of the valley or Hudson Valley Region , it amazes me how little folks know about what is going on , area to area . And , yes I am starting a sentence with this word , and how hard it is to find out about what is happening UNLESS you're in that small town or area .

And honestly I am not that interested in the local garage sales or fish bakes than the cultural events that occur with out due attention, most weekends up and down the Region , Lower Mid
or Central and in the nose bleed zone of Albany .PS Hudson turned around at just before what is the Albany area so officially I 'm stopping there too .Just FYI .

So over the next few weeks I 'm going to be chatting with alot of folks OUT THERE as to how to get to know what's going on and whose doing what , which art center is holding a this/that sale and what ( if any thing ) artists , poets , writers and other creative souls are thinking about .Even
discussing currently . Despite the economy folks up and down the valley almost beyond Albany are getting and doing creative things ! No matter if they can't sell those creations , they are still doing their thing !

Well I 've got to get going because one of my son's chickens has flown the coop and in case you're all wondering if my chickens have left their roosts , or words to that effect , NO ...just having some summer time fun . BUT I am serious as to improving the art dialog or encouraging it as I seem not always to be that serious in my method . So tune in or drop me a line or two at :

Love to hear about the proverbial chickens , but don't bother to tell me about the clambakes!
Thanks SD


This is how the habitat studio looked like earlier this year .

Fifteen students from SUNY Art Dept. with instructor Todd Sargood , installed 60 panels on the outside of the studio. Many of these are now at other habitat studio locations .

AYESHA IBRAHIM will be here from August 15 th onwards.

MOLLY RAUSCH ends Saturday 8/15 with her LOST & FOUND BOOTH

This is an early photograph of the habitat studio on campus .
Which has changed drastically since Ryan Cronin installed his
water collection system early this summer. Mercedes Cecilia
had some fun repainting some of the old habitat material during
her residency there .Now PATTI NELSON is about to effect some change. She will be there for 3 weeks from Friday August 14th.


This is an early photo of the studio at the Dorsky Museum .

Many people have been very bold in writing on it as to what

inspires them . Remember show ends SEPTEMBER 6TH .

Ustya Tarnawsky is currently in residence here , late into August
This is a wonderful spot on a sunny day ,very cool . Remember to bring a picnic as there are a number of wonderful tables close by .

Thursday, August 13, 2009


For those of you who missed that beacon on Main , just passed the other light on Main and 32 , Ayesha is back . So bring your best smile and choose a new work of hers. Those of you who might have lost more than a smile and would like a rendition of that missing item or even mood , Molly Rausch will be at Main St this Saturday to close her Lost and Found Booth . So final requests must be in by Saturday evening. 

For those of you who didn't get  a chance to SMILE and choose an artwork , Ayesha will be at the Main St Habitat Studio until the END of August. 

Patti Nelson is settling in at the Old Main Circle on the SUNY Campus. She will be there for a 3 week term. She is exploring aspects of Shelter . Found material that might be repurposed for a use that implies possible habitat. With in her exploration of taking the studio structure apart and reinventing it with other material she is examining our concepts about class , heirarchy
and  economics . An interesting project with regard to recent articles about Dharavi , Mumbai
slum , and their Gov't 's wish to go hi-rise and relocate as something "Modern and Progressive"

This also touched a chord with Mercedes Cecilia who was at the same studio . Growing up in Peru she commented that the habitat structures were similar to ones being lived in there. We 
forget that a vast amount of the earths population live in simple dwellings . For those interested in taking a side ways look at this topic I'd like to refer you to the Slumdwellers website. 

And not far removed from this topic is the site in NYC , which is wearing well but has definitely seen other uses . The lock had disappeared but there were no signs of other activity . There seems to be a tendency for the homeless in this area  to seek shelter with in the structures of the park near by. But issues of shelter are closer to home than we like to think about!

Todd Betterly will be taking up residency in the studio at 23rd St at SOLAR 1 this Monday August 17th . He'll be thinking up a variety of ways to engage with both passers by and with the structure itself. This will be new territory for him as he has been engaged in the applied arts and has a wish to return to a less commercial orientated creative process, after a time away.

Stay posted for his accounts and experiences at this Studio Habitat.

I'm going to try and get to some of those images that have been gathering electronic dust in the camera , so I hope to return with some new images of studios past but not forgotten.

Take care , and stay dry ( you forget it's August )    SD 


I was up in New Paltz yesterday seeing how the project was going.  Brian Wallace,the museum curator , reminded me that the current show "Ecotones and Transition Zones" at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY NP will be closing SEPTEMBER 6th .

A provocative show when juxtaposed to the many Hudson River painting shows going on up and down the valley ,( Hudson) ,  now celebrating a 400th anniversary of said explorer bumping up the river in 1609 . 

It stands out as it reflects the diversity of work being produced , conceptualized , created in the region now in a variety of medium. What many forget is that many works of the original school were produced in traditional studio practices not outdoors and usually back in NYC. Many times actually from a photo format . Today NYC has become a safe haven to live in .Having been made habitable by artists converting work to studio/work spaces into living spaces many artists have been unable to continue living and working in the city. We'll see if this trend abates
in the current economic climate ?  

As city rents rose the valley and it's many rivertowns became the new destination  for artists to head for. Many major towns up and down the valley now have many  artists working in them. Beacon with the initial focus on it through the location of the Dia Museum attracted a larger proportion of artists to it. Larger towns such as Poughkeepsie attracted many artists who needed more industrial spaces and had it had a variety of empty commercial space available.

At this point in time there are a considerable number of artists who have made their residence and place of work , their studios , in the valley. A far greater  number of artists produce work in the Hudson Valley than a 100 years ago, yet this is not reflected in the number of  exhibitions celebrating the 400 year anniversary.  The valley for many reasons has attracted artists to it and especially now not only due to economic necessity . There has been a continued reevaluation of the natural splendour of this river region with the significant growth of the environmental movements , started over 40 years ago close to West Point .  Prevailed upon by pioneers such as Pete Seeger and the Clearwater crew. 

But artists though inspired by their surroundings  are not merely mirrors to that landscape to day . There is a cultural phenomena which is quietly occurring which is not about galleries and the relocation of exhibition space to the area but an influx of working artists into an area that for many years had lost its soul. And that loss was not solely a regional phenomena . 

Artists today are engaged in many forms of creative expression . And given the number or lack there of of exhibitions that are reflecting this shift it behooves you as an interested member in your community , having probably relocated here for similar reasons , to engage in seeing the diversity of work being made in the region . The current show up until SEPTMEBER 6TH  is 
more significant in this "QUAD" year.  There are 22 artists whose works were selected to be apart of this show this year . (out of a submission of over 100 artists) All applicants live in the Hudson Valley region.

And when you're there pick up the gallery guide.. its well written and informative . I'll also point you to some of the captions that were added by the curator in a wonderful twist of putting museum objects in this case art work into context. This is an opportunity to take in the work in a new way which is not always bothered with in most exhibition /gallery settings .

Remember todays events are tomorrow's history , were you apart of it ?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


For those in New Paltz this weekend . DO and it is the village's Art Loop 3rd Saturday this week, drop by the Habitat Studio on Main St (next to the Restaurant 36 Main, good stop for Brunch Lunch or Dinner plans !) .Molly Rausch will be there to take in your requests of objects you've lost, in return and by way of your description she mails you back a drawing of the lost object .She's had a great response from people and alot of anonymous requests so we are respecting peoples privacy in responding to those personal items which aren't for public consumption .

During the week Ayesha Ibrahim is continuing her Art for A Smile so be sure to wear your best face, unless you happen to have lost it in which we'll refer you to Molly's Lost and Found and she might be able to draw it for you , but be sure to desribe your BEST face !!

Up on campus check on the progress by Patti Nelson , at The Old Main Circle of Plattekill St ,....
Old SUNY entrance , follow the construction fencing . And whilst you are there take a path through the campus to visit the Ecotones Show at The Dorsky Museum and another Inspired habitat studio inside . Micahel Asbills piece is a must see along with Tom Sarratonios painter's paintings tucked away in a corner .

Finally to cap the day off end up at HHS ....Historical Huguenot Street and if you are riding the bike trail drop in and have a sandwich near the fourth habitat studio in the Cedar grove by the picnic tables. Ustya Tarnawsky has been working there having been on site about a week now .

I am off to visit the studio on the East River,tomorrow . Meeting up with an artist who wants to use the studio at SOLAR1 . Other artists do stop by the SOLAR1 office if you want a riverside studio for a short time residency. STRICTLY no living WORK in only ! ENQUIRE within ,.......

Next week I have to see how the gardens grow in Philadelphia at the Habitat studio/potting shed at SCEE. Off Hagys Mill Rd . Part of Amy Liptons curated show "Down to Earth " with several other environmental , greenfingered artists. Check out Amy's blog at ecoartspace (see link). AND save the date SEPTEMBER 12TH for the Reception for this show , if you survive the opening festivities down the road at Abington Art Center in Jenkintown the previous evening.

Planning ahead do SAVE the date SEPTEMBER 24TH there is a panel discussion at the museum , The Dorsky at SUNY New Paltz is host to several artists from the habitat project and myself , with ecoartspace curator Amy Lipton . Details still to be announced .We hope to have a very special moderator for the panel discussion so more to follow . Thursday evening at 7pm .

Please tune back soon I am anticipating some cool stuff in New Paltz , including

*..a possible Solar component to the campus studio by Michael Otis's Engineering class

*... how green can we make the habitat studios by leeds in training architect Joe Thompson

*... Michael Asbill is concocting a creative term at one of the Habitat studios in September

*.... Mercedes Cecilia hopes to be in residence in the Museum habitat in September

*.... A recent SUNY alumni , artist Chris Manning is going to stage an install at a studio habitat.

*... There might be a short residency by Marnie Hillsley , originator of the Poets Walk Habitat !

*.... A final got to go tag sale most likely at Main St of collected items which were found and now
we want to part with , for a small donation to the project . This item still has to be talked over with the other members and a date fixed.....

Meanwhile enjoy the cooler weather today and bask in the August heat til the thunder showers come. I am now up and off to New Paltz to meet with Patti Nelson . Later SD

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


At this point I am assuming that any one and I might mean one as in a person is reading this currently SORRY to say there have been some schedule changes .


Solar 1 we have decided due to a variety of reasons to postpone events there BUT we are interested in getting Artists to work there at the habitat studio so do contact us !!

We will be posting the NEW events and NEW dates asap at this location !!


Patti Nelson begins working at the Old Main Circle Campus habitat studio tomorrow ,Wednesday AUGUST 12th ....further details to follow Her residency to go through to August 21st .

Molly Rausch continues her Lost and Found Booth through this weekend . Ayesha Ibrhim will be joining her this week at some point at the Main St studio ... I'll have more news SOON.

Huguenot Street Studio continues with Ustya Tarnawsky (pix to follow !)


I am going there next week to see how the Gardens Grow or Not ! And to add new material to the studio potting shed . This location for those joining us now is at SCEE 8040 Hagys Mill RD
PLEASE note Reception for Project Saturday September 12th Hope to see you there !!

POET'S Walk Rhinehook NY

Weather permitting I am hoping to move this studio off the "siteline " very soon .I'll be making a few changes to the structure and we're looking to get some Writers in there soon doing their thing !!


This is our errant studio ,.... we are not on the map and I am unsure as to what the future holds for this quiet participant . I am anticipating we will see this studio being relocated before the year ends . Our team is ready to pick up and go when we have the word !? Bill please call us !!


The original habitat site is slowly being cleaned up . We still have ONE studio there which will be moved by the month end . Materials gathered will be repurposed or disposed off as weather and other natural effects have taken their toll .


As part of the Collaborative Concepts Exhibit Michael Natilello will be building a habitat studio at Saunders Farm off OAP RD very soon . This promises to be an interesting hybrid in the studio/shed concept ! Those of you who missed Michaels Fish Shanty at Annsville may like to google that from the Peekskill Project 2008.


We're NOT there yet . BUT there is a festival in Dharavi , aka the slum city as in Millionaire Dog Movie ... which is planned to celebrate what may soon be changing if Real Esate Speculators and the Indian Gov't get their way . This could be a rich exchange if we can propose a relevant studio habitat as part of these celebrations. I'll be posting links to this new material soon .

HOCH TAUNUS ,Bad Homburg , Germany

There are plans to have a habitat studio in the Hoch Taunus Park near Bad Homburg which is a short distance from Frankfurt a.m. . Currently looking at Spring Early Summer funds permitting
Again more news to come on this from OUR Messenger !

Please as a reminder do look at HOW you might support this project , go to the side bar and see donations. YOU can make a difference . AND you might just be that ONE reader who gets it ?

THANKS talk soon Best SD

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s.c. draper & k.k. conner, all rights reserved.