Since moving to Garrison, NY from NYC in 2001 I’ve organized museum, gallery and sculpture park exhibitions that have taken place in towns up and down the Hudson including Yonkers, Nyack, Beacon, New Paltz and Ghent – but collaborating with the Habitat for Artists (HFA) group has been my first opportunity to work on an exciting project right near my home. HFA was initiated in the summer of 2008 and came out of the work of Cold Spring-based artist Simon Draper. Initially he built a series of small shed structures that were placed at Spire Studios in Beacon, NY. They were made from used and recycled material, old lumber, windows and doors and even unfinished art works. Draper invited several artists to participate in the project, which then became known as Habitat for Artists. The artists took up residency and created small studio spaces working both in and outside the structures. They were asked to examine how they might redefine their creative space, needs and process. These small studios, each only six by six feet, become an intimate work space for the artist – but also act as a metaphor for viewers to contemplate how much space we really need in our own homes. HOW MUCH? HOW LITTLE? THE SPACE TO CREATE is the question HFA poses. In other words – how much more creative could we be as a culture if we used less materials, energy and land?
In the two years since it began, HFA in collaboration with ecoartspace has partnered with over twenty organizations and engaged with over fifty artists in various locations. Completed projects have taken place in Rhinebeck at Poet’s Walk with Scenic Hudson, in the town of New Paltz and at the SUNY campus, Kingston, Workspace Harlem, Urban Go Green NYC, Chashama in Times Square and Solar One on the East River Park, NYC. Aside from the current project at the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in Garrison there are also new works installed at Common Ground Farm CSA at Stony Kill, NY Burlington Community College in NJ and coming this September in Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River with the Destination Schuylkill Project.
Currently there are several new HFA artists working in studios hosted by the Hudson Highland Land Trust in Garrison, NY at their site at Philipsebrooke. Artists will rotate over the course of the summer and include: Susan English, Sheilah Rechtschaffer, Carol Flaitz, Michael Natiello, Sarah Haviland, Marnie Hillsley, Kit Burke Smithe, Christopher Manning, Carla Goldberg, Dionis Ortiz, Todd Sargood and Simon Draper. River of Words, a Garrison School based group of students hosted by Irene O’Garden and Lisa Mechaley have already created artworks for the HHLT site. Images: top Sarah Haviland, bottom left Sheilah Rechtschaffer, bottom right Susan English.
Habitat For Artists seeks to engage the artist with their community and to provide the opportunity to create a more dynamic relationship and role for the artist in that community. The Hudson Highlands Land Trust is a community-based organization devoted to protecting the natural resources, rural character, and scenic beauty of the Hudson Highlands in NY State’s Hudson Valley.