Economics of Environmental Art

A conversation with Nancy Zastudil, Chris Burmeister, Ryan Henel, Jami Porter Lara and Patricia Watts at 516 ARTS

516 ARTS welcomed guest curator of Knew Normal, Nancy Zastudil, along with contemporary art collector Chris Burmeister, artists Ryan Henel and Jami Porter Lara, and fellow curator Patricia Watts to discuss the ways that environmental artists, collectors and supporters find each other – and what exactly is involved in collecting and supporting environmental art.

More than a genre of landscape or merely including materials from nature, environmental and ecological art have grown to embody ideas and actions around preservation, sustainability, climate change, water issues, agriculture and more; and today it encompasses all artistic forms from painting to poetry to political action. Looking to Earthworks and Land Art as its historical lineage, this forum reviews how environmental art has been acquired and exhibited by museums, as well as ways contemporary artists and gallerists have found to place environmental artworks in a commercial market. Perspectives respresented include those of the gallerist, environmental artist, professor, art collector and museum curator.

Nancy Zastudil is the founder of Central Features, an innovative gallery in Downtown Albuquerque promoting environmental steward-ship, social progress and the intrinsic value of creative acts. In addition to her work as a curator and art writer, she works for the Frederick Hammersley Foundation and The Lightning Field.

Ryan HenelRyan Henel is a Research Assistant Professor and Field Coordinator for the UNM Land Arts of the American West Program. He works in the realm of site-specific installations and public art.

Jami Porter Lara
's recent works engage the ancient pueblo pottery tradition to create sculpture inspired by the most iconic and ubiquitous vessel of our time: the plastic bottle. Taught by Mata Ortiz potters Graciela and Hector Gallegos, Jami makes containers the way they have been made in the desert southwest for over two thousand years. Jami describes the project as a kind of reverse archaeology: digging into the present and future using tools of the past.

Patricia WattsPatricia Watts
is founder of ecoartspace. She has curated over thirty art and ecology exhibitions and produced a site-specific temporary public art installation entitled Windsock Currents (2005) on Crissy Field in the Presidio, San Francisco, for UN World Environmental Day. She is currently working as consulting curator for the Marin Community Foundation in Novato, CA and on a multi-year statewide residency project in New Mexico entitled Getting Off the Planet.

Chris Burmeister 
is one of Albuquerque's most passionate contemporary art collectors.


Image: Wendy Mason, Fragrance of 2009, 2009, potato, perfume diffuser, dimensions variable