Chuck talks with Amy Lipton and Simon Draper about ecoartspace and the Habitat for Artists exhibition. (Steve Bransford and Mike Lindsay/MNN)


Chuck: Well, here we are in the Carl Van Brunt Gallery here in Beacon, New York, and I’m here with Amy Lipton. Amy runs an organization called ecoartspace. Amy, welcome to Love of the Land. Great to have you with us.
Amy: Thank you. It’s a great pleasure to be here. We formed because we felt the need to see a presence in the art world dealing with environmental issues, because there was a real lack of that 10 years ago. And hopefully that’s changing a little bit now. The environment, to me, is really the predominant issue. It’s really – it’s global; it’s about all of us. And so, I felt that the art world needed to pay attention to that. So I started looking around to see if there were artists out there in the world who were thinking about the same thing, and much to my happy surprise, there were. This exhibition HFA is Habitat For Artists. And ecoartspace is sponsoring this project and Simon Draper really has taken on the idea of the small footprint, in the sense that artists have been kind of pushed and continue to be pushed out of major cities and areas they can't afford to smaller and smaller spaces. The Hudson Valley has attracted a lot of New York City artists to move up here. So he kind of took that idea and went the next step with it in terms of designing these little sheds that could be portable or outdoor studio units for artists to work in.
Chuck: Okay.
Simon: So the idea was I’d been working with the idea of sheds as a more contemplative space. And a year ago, I said, “Well, why don't I give it back so it become more of an active space.” You know, a shed is where somebody goes and makes something or goes and does something. So, I came up with the idea of making these small sustainable studios for artists to do whatever they wanted to do with it. They could make it the piece of work or they could work within it.
Chuck: That’s fascinating. Well, I think you have some of these actually out in the community, don't you?
Simon: We do indeed, yeah. We can go to the original site where it all began, as well.
Chuck: Well, let’s so that. You lead the way.
Simon: Okay.
Chuck: Okay.
Chuck: Wow, Simon, look at this. This is interesting. I notice that there’s some more sort of sheds down that way and apparently each shed is sort of designed for a particular artist in mind, is that right, whether it’s one shed might be for someone that paints --
Simon: Yeah, but what we did was we basically, in this particular case, it was for the singer-songwriter Dar Williams and she came down to the studio and said, “What’s the minimum?” So, she had the guitar, oh, kind of was simulating the guitar or something.
Chuck: Yeah, how she would need to move around inside.
Simon: What else do you need? I said, “Do you want a window here so, you know, you can see here.” You know, there’s a window back here and then --
Chuck: You know, you've created a really interesting workspace here for an artist.
Simon: Right.
Chuck: In her case, it was to write songs, to find a little sabbatical, a place to go in and have some peace and quiet, but with minimal space, right?
Simon: Correct. And it was actually interesting, ‘cause she didn’t know when she first started and she, she turned to me halfway through the project and said, “You know, I was kind of concerned about whether it was enough space.”
Chuck: Yeah.
Simon: And she said it was intimate enough, but there was enough that I felt secure, but also involved with outside. And, that was – you're suddenly made aware of the surroundings much more by being in this small box. So, it’s like suddenly the outside is resonant and affecting being inside.
Chuck: Well, I think it’s also a metaphor, isn't it, about how we can all maybe do more with less.
Simon: Definitely.
Chuck: You know, do we really need all this space? And we were talking about the housing situation and how sometimes it’s a little overkill when you see these huge houses. Do we really need to, you know, heat and cool all of those spaces? And you can perform your art --
Simon: Yeah.
Chuck: -- in this kind of space. And so it’s really interesting what you've come up with here.