Michael Berman

Grasslands/Separating Species catalogue arrives

“THIS CATALOG DOCUMENTS A TWO-PART EXHIBITION that has sprung from the work of Michael Berman, a current Guggenheim Fellow, who is both esteemed in the contemporary art
world and a longtime activist with several environmental organizations.

Berman’s current series of photographs, titled Grasslands, is about the endangered Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in New Mexico, Texas and the northern border of Mexico, where he has wandered into the desert without a compass to, in his words, “live deliberately.” He believes that how you see the land comes down to what you value. “I believe art has a greater potential for meaning when it serves some purpose. People have started to recognize these lands as significant and this is something art can help along. If anything, my work is to generate small symbols that reveal the greater complexity of things.”

Inspired by his Grasslands series, guest curator Mary Anne Redding has assembled a concurrent exhibition, Separating Species, that includes a remarkable group of artists, all of whom delve into land in diverse ways that illuminate our relationship to our fragile ecosystems, highlighting our interconnectedness with the environment and non-human species. Krista Elrick examines North American birds; Dana Fritz looks at plants and animals in engineered indoor landscape environments; Jo Whaley creates theatrical still life images of insects and humans; and David Taylor’s images of border monuments along the US/Mexico border explore the effect of border control on both humans and animals.

It is a great pleasure for 516 ARTS to host Grasslands /Separating Species, the culminating exhibition in our space for the six-month series of programs for LAND/ART.”
—From the Acknowledgments by Suzanne Sbarge, Executive Director, 516 ARTS

Purchase yours today!


LAND/ART is a collaborative state-wide project hosted by numerous New Mexico arts organizations, all organized by the 516 Gallery in Albuquerque and running through the summer and fall of 2009. LAND/ART explores relationships of land, art and community through exhibitions, site-specific art works, lectures, performances, tours, excursions, film, poetry and several weekend symposiums (see below). Focusing on “environmental” or “land” art, the collaboration seeks to address our changing relationship to nature, and to offer new or previously unconsidered understandings of the place in which we live. The months-long project with culminate with a book, published by Radius Books and available in December, 2009.

LAND/ART features over 60 diverse local, national and international artists. It is the culmination and documentation of the exhibition, and features the work of such artists as Michael Berman, Erika Blumenfeld, David Taylor, Basia Irland, Patrick Dougherty, Catalina Delgado Trunk, and Shelley Niro. There is an introduction by Bill Gilbert and Kathleen Shields along with essays by Lucy Lippard, William L. Fox, Nancy Marie Mithlo and MaLin Wilson. (To pre-order a copy, click here.)

The first exhibition as part of LAND/ART NM 2009 is Here & There: Seeing New Ground, up until July 11, 2009 at the 516 Gallery in Albuquerque, NM. This exhibition features contemporary artists examining the landscape from perspectives that are both visual and cultural, including explorations of Native American film, as well as Native and non-Native artists who subvert landscape perspective to examine issues of the environment and human beings’ relationship with nature. Through photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, print, film and installation, these artists offer interpretations of the land and landscape both within and without human interaction.

Upcoming Exhibitions for LAND/ART

The Center for Land Use Interpretation Bus Tour & Exhibition

Tour June 27, 2009 Exhibition Aug 1 – Sept 19, 2009

El Otro Lado:  The Other Side

July – Aug 2009

Second Site

Aug 1 – Sept 19, 2009

Equation: a balances state?

Aug 1 – Sept 19, 2009


Summer/Fall 2009

For more information on all of the exhibitions, download and print the LAND/ART guide.

The Lannan Foundation recently hosted a fundraising reception in Santa Fe for the upcoming LAND/ART book. To contribute to the ongoing exhibitions or to support this wide-ranging project, please contact Suzanne Sbarge at suzanne@516arts.org or 505-242-1445.

Smudge Studio will design, produce and web host information, documentation, and creative responses to LAND/ART on their website and blog: www.smudgestudio.org. Their project for LAND/ART joins blogging with the design and production of web exhibitions, and activates a hybrid voice that cross-pollinates journalism, art, design, education, and media. smudge studio aims to be a generative resource and outlet for artists, museum and art educators, environmental designers, and the general public.

Another Way to Support LAND/ART

Smudge Studio’s artist edition of 30 postcards depicting Limit Case” landscapes and land uses encountered on their recent journey in the Southwest. To view the postcards and order your set of 30 for a tax deductible donation of $20, please visit www.smudgestudio.org/postcards

The artists of Smudge Studio traveled through the American Southwest for 28 days and covered 3700 miles. The postcard format echoes our experience of continuous movement. These cards are signals sent from our encounters with moments that necessitate extraordinary acts of creativity and responsiveness.