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 !?

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