Shifting Ecologies II at the Athens Cultural Center

by Editorial Staff

SHIFTING ECOLOGIES II, as the title suggests, is the second exhibition on the same theme curated by Marianne Van Lent. The first Shifting Ecologies was shown at the Painting Center in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The premise behind these exhibitions is to see how different artists explore ecological issues and changes to the environment in their work. Shifting Ecologies II features a diverse group of artists from the Hudson Valley and from New York City who embrace a sense of responsibility for defending the environment.

The opening reception will take place on Saturday, August 8th from 6 – 9 PM at the Athens Cultural Center (ACC), 24 Second Street, Athens. The exhibition will run from August 8 until September 7. A special panel discussion will take place at ACC on Saturday August 15 from 5pm – 7pm as part of the exhibition.

The word “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1878 and originates from the Greek word oikos meaning house or household. Haeckel, a naturalist, biologist, philosopher, physician, professor and artist, expanded the meaning to include habitats. From habitats the word has come to mean the study of the environment: addressing scientifically the interrelationships of living creatures and their conditions, including the biological and physical sciences.

Joan Ades - Off the Grid

Joan Ades — “Off the Grid”

In Shifting Ecologies II, Joan Ades addresses how technology has altered how we humans communicate with one another in a work wittily titled, Off the Grid. It is a collage as visually delicate as the now obsolete elements from which it is made. The work is pieced together from old maps, phone book listings, and musty fragments left in the 20th century’s wake that, as Ades wrote in her artist’s statement, “call to mind a time when the world was more than a maelstrom of zeroes and ones on a screen, when connections were palpable not virtual, and simplicity prevailed.”

Of her sculptural piece, Hanging by Strings (the image featured above the title), Riva Weinstein says, “it is a contemplation on the fragility of life and shifting eco-​​systems. Pine boughs are wrapped in mindful meditation.” Weinstein has for some time been making art and doing performances around the number 18 which is symbolic of life in the ancient mystical practice of Gematria. The performances have included invitations to people to join her in walking in circles at various locations around the state including, last winter, in Central Park in NYC. This piece continues with that theme: the wrapping of each bough is counted in increments of 18. More of Weinstein’s work can be seen, until August 8, at the Seligmann Center in Orange County.

One of the natural conditions of life is the alteration — sometimes subtle, often overt — of our environment. Industrial and technological expansions are triggering drastic environmental changes often resulting in mutations, diseases and pollution. The destruction of our earth from global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, genetic engineering, toxic waste and the loss of our forests threaten not only our way of life, but our very survival. Claire Lambe remarked on the ways that pollutants create false positives, such as how fine particles of industrial dust, metals, and chemicals in the air make for “romantic tangerine dawns” and sulfuric acid aerosols create the most dramatic, and reddest, sunsets in her painting Hell from a Distance.

Claire Lambe, Hell from a Distance. Mixed media on canvas, 48”x 48”

Claire Lambe, “Hell from a Distance”. Mixed media on canvas, 48”x 48”

William McDonough, a leader in promoting sustainability has said, “If everything that is received from the earth can be freely given back, without causing harm to any living system: this is ecology.” Eco artists may address the subject with on-​​site rigor and activism; painters address it with detached formalism and the language of painting. This show presents the way painters, in particular, are reacting to the current ecology of our planet and our ecological crisis and challenge.

Tasha Depp, Fukushima Landscape. Oil on linen, 22x31

Tasha Depp, “Fukushima Landscape”. Oil on linen, 22x31

Tasha Depp’s eerie men-​​on-​​the-​​moon-​​on-​​earth landscape needs no explanation other than to consider that hazmat suits may well be the garb for all of us in the not-​​so-​​distant future. Depp is also among the artists in this year’s Samuel Dorsky Museum’s Hudson Valley Artists exhibition at SUNY New Paltz.

The panel, on August 15, will present and discuss the interplay between art and science on the subject of environmental change and will conclude with a group manifestation by the river with multidisciplinary artist, activist, Carrie Dashow. In addition to those already mentioned, the artists in this exhibition include Nancy Azara , Sarah Barker, Kathy Bruce, Tina Chaden, Lisa Crafts, Ford Crull, Peggy Cyphers, Steve Derrickson, Priscilla Derven, Sarah Draney, Stuart Farmery, Deborah Freedman, Mark Gibian, Kylie Heidenheimer, Carter Hodgkin. Linda Horn, Elizabeth Knowles, Ellen Kozak, Barbara Laube, Ingrid Lisowski, Dana Matthews, Theresa Nicholas, Alastair Noble, Gina Occhiogrosso, Al Peters, Sara Pruiksma, Leah Rhodes, Sam Sebren, Phyllis Stoller, Jeff Vanderburg, Marjorie Van Dyke, Marianne Van Lent, and Gordana Vukovic.


Kylie Heidenheimer: “Woods”. acrylic & wax on canvas, 20”x20”

Curator Marianne Van Lent lives and works in NYC and Athens, NY on the Hudson River. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art and her MFA from Cornell University. Van Lent’s paintings have been widely exhibited in the United States and Europe and inhabit many public and private collections. Recent exhibitions include “Cosmologies”, “Prima Materia” and “Nature Abstracted” at the Painting Center, New York, “Reflected Light”, a solo show at Ulla Surland Fine Art. Her works can be seen online here

This exhibition is made possible in part with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts, administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund. Additionional funding provided by the Athens Community Foundation.

All images are courtesy of the artists and the Athens Cultural Center.

Featured Image: Riva Weinstein, Hanging by Strings (detail), 2014. Dimensions variable

For more information visit the ACC website: here





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