Helping Artists While Helping the Environment

…..an artist in residence program that also helps the environment.

     Artists in residence programs have been proliferating,  and are very successful  because not only do they help the artists,  they can generate a body of work and art programs  related to a company’s activity.

A couple of years ago (December 2014), I featured an article about three artist in residence programs – Kohler, CERN, and the Recology Program.  I thought it was time to revisit the Recology program because it has a positive influence on not only providing artists with support and inspiration, but it is also going far to help recycling efforts in the San Francisco Bay area that ultimately are helping to restore the environment.  It is a truly innovative and visionary art program.

Recology is a recycling and waste disposal company in San Francisco. The Artist and Residence program has been providing  Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology San Francisco Transfer Station.  By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.

The Beginnings of the Program

Jo Hanson, creator of the Artist in Residence program.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology was established in 1990 at the same time that recycling was being implemented in the city and county of San Francisco.  Part of the  city’s plan was to design an education program to promote recycling and resource conservation. The SWMP and Recology San Francisco (then known as San Francisco Sanitary Fill Company) worked together to create informational ads and brochures about recycling, develop classroom presentations, and organize tours of recycling plants.

The goal was to teach people how to use curbside recycling bins and to encourage source reduction in order to promote a general awareness of how recycling helps protect the environment. Conceived by Jo Hanson, the Artist in Residence Program was the most innovative element of the education plan and the first program of its kind in the United States.  In the late 1980s Hanson suggested to Recology and the City of San Francisco that they develop an artist-in-residence program at the city dump which would offer studio space and stipends for emerging and established artists to create artwork from the waste stream and raise public awareness about environmental issues. Now more than twenty years later, the Artist in Residence Program has been nationally recognized and awarded, and countless artists, children, and adults have benefited from Jo Hanson’s vision.

One of the Artist in Residence for Fall 2017, Rodney Ewing

Jo was a guiding force for the program and served as a member of the program’s board from 1990 until she died in March, 2007.   The program has continued to expand and add new features, and since 1990, over 120 professional artists and 30 student artists have completed residencies. The studio is located at the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center (Recology San Francisco), a 47-acre facility that includes the trash transfer station (where trash goes before being sent to landfill), the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, the Organics Annex, the Public Disposal and Recycling Area (“The Dump”), and other recycling areas.  The facility is also the site for a three-acre sculpture garden containing work by former artists-in-residence.

by Cybele Lyle, 2017 artist in residence

The program has had four goals:

  • To encourage the reuse of materials
  • To support Bay Area artists by providing access to the wealth of materials available at the public dump
  • To encourage children and adults to think about their own consumption practices
  • To teach the public how to recycle and compost through classroom lessons that explain the city’s three-cart (recycling, composting, trash) system
Beth Krebs

As part of the program, artists speak to elementary school classes and adult tour groups about their experience of working with recycled materials, and when their residency is completed, the company hosts a three-day exhibition and reception to show the work they have completed.

Artists make three pieces of art for the company’s permanent art collection, and leave art created during the residency with the company for the next twelve months for exhibitions at off-site venues.  Current artists that completed their residencies in May are Cybele Lyle, Carrie Hott and Nathan Bryne.  Upcoming artists for 2017 include:  Rodney Ewing, Cathy Lu, Erik Scollon, and Beth Krebs.

The Sculpture Garden and Gardener in Residence Project

An experiment in biodiversity, Wild Apples for Jo is a bed of apple trees grown from seed. The garden installation is dedicated to the memory of Artist in Residence Program founder Jo Hanson and created by Susan Leibovitz Steinman

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The Sculpture Garden  is a private, three-acre facility that includes more than 35 sculptures made by former artists-in-residence, with new pieces added each year.  Each facility tour includes a visit to the garden. In 1992, under the direction and design of  Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Recology San Francisco built the sculpture garden on a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay. The land functions as a buffer between the SF Transfer Station and the adjacent residential neighborhood, known as Little Hollywood. It was previously a field of ivy and ice plant.

The garden path is made from recycled concrete salvaged from the Embarcadero Freeway when it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Bricks that line the path came from a building on Mission Street, and many of the plants in the garden were rescued from the garbage and brought back to life using Recology compost.

The goal of the Gardener in Residence Program (GIR) at Recology San Francisco is to bring awareness to the importance of native plant restoration, water conservation, and the value of compost as a soil amendment. The focus has been on  educating the public about sustainable landscape design techniques —  essential for reducing water useage and attracting native wildlife, such as bees and butterflies. Using the garden as a platform for educational outreach it is meant to encourage dialogue about these environmental issues.

The program provides experienced local gardeners and landscape designers with access to the Recology Sculpture Garden for site specific projects. In conjunction with Recology staff, the gardener-in-residence determines the appropriate areas for development within the three-acre sculpture garden, and will design and execute their plan by working hands-on in the garden. Projects are to incorporate drought-tolerant plantings, effective use of mulch and compost, and native plants.

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For more information, contact people for the Recology program are:
Deborah Munk: (415) 330-1415
Micah Gibson: (415) 330-1414
Sharon Spain: (415) 330-0747
Felisia Castaneda: (415) 330-9943
The mailing address is:  Artist in Residence Program, 501 Tunnel Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94134

The Recology website for the Artist in Residence Program is https://www.recology.com/recology-san-francisco/artist-in-residence-program/

Information on this and nearly 700 other corporate art programs and collections are included in the 2017 edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections here.

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E.ON Corporation: Sponsoring Exhibitions in Germany

From the E.ON Collection. By Daniele Buetti, Arabesque on hand (from the series Good Fellows), 1996/2001, Colour photograph on aluminium dibond, 180cm x 120cm. © DACS 2013

E.ON is a German energy company now based in Essen, Germany, which for many years has made a significant commitment to supporting art. 

For over 15 years, E.ON has helped museums to create large exhibitions and many cultural highlights. From the first Caravaggio retrospective in Germany to a Caspar David Friedrich exhibition,  to artists in the classical modern genre, such as Paul Klee or contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons and Thomas Demand – E.ON has sponsored exhibitions showing art by old masters up to contemporary artists and positions.   The most popular were retrospectives of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne. The show “From Monet to Picasso” drew more than one million visitors.

In a cultural public-private partnership with the city of Düsseldorf, E.ON facilitated and participated in the revival of the Kunstpalast originally constructed in 1902.

The “Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast” (Museum Foundation) was founded in 1998 in conjunction with the city of Düsseldorf. After extensive modifications and renovations, the new ‘Museum Kunstpalast’  opened in 2001 with the first grand exhibition: “Altars – art that brings you to your knees.”

During the past 18 years, E.ON has sponsored the Kunstpalast with around 60 million Euros, 42 million of which was donated for the museum’s ongoing operation and sponsorship for exhibitions.

E.ON’s initial 10-year commitment to the museum foundation was renewed several times, but at the end of 2017, the company will not renew its membership in the foundation, primarily because the company recently relocated from Düsseldorf to Essen. However, E.ON will sponsor one exhibit in 2018 and another in 2019. 

In 2014, E.ON decided to sell Jackson Pollock’s Number 5 (Elegant Lady) (1951), a painting which the company had owned since 1980, at a Christie’s auction to keep funding the Museum Kunstpalast. Pollock had swapped it in 1954 with New York gallery owner Martha Jackson for the convertible in which he had a fatal accident two years later. In 1980, Ulrich Hartmann, head of VEBA’s corporate board office, pushed for the purchase from art dealer Alfred Schmela. The acquisition was considered to be the foundation for E.ON’s art collection of more than 1,800 works.

Until December 2016, the E.ON headquarters was based in Düsseldorf in a building designed by renowned architect O.M. Ungers.  In several benefit exhibitions, art could be purchased directly from the artist or galleries. The last and largest benefit exhibit was the exhibition “Kunst für Obdach. 20 Jahre fiftyfifty” (http://www.kunst-fuer-obdach.de/en/home/) at the end of 2015. Here, E.ON and the non-profit organization fiftyfifty” were able to successfully acquire works by 80 new, established or acclaimed artists, e.g. Gerhard Richter, Imi Knoebel, Thomas Ruff and Katharina Sieverding, who  donated important art works for the cause.

Fiftyfifty was able to raise over 2 million Euros for the homeless of Düsseldorf at the exhibition, and few days after the event, part of the funds raised was used to buy a tripartite house in Düsseldorf.

Since the company relocated to Essen in January 2016, art has been displayed in a new way at the headquarters. At the entry lobby, employees and guests are welcomed by a major work by Rupprecht Geiger and a steel object from 1989, “Riroriro Pongo”, by the American artist John Chamberlain. The cafeteria showcases a 30-part work entitled “Grace Kelly” by Imi Knoebel and a photograph by acclaimed photographer Candida Höfer. In total, over 300 works from the E.ON art collection can be viewed at “Brüsseler Platz” in Essen. The works cover a broad range and their diversity reflects the company’s history and  long-standing tradition with art.

Essen is home to one of Germany’s most important exhibition spaces, the Folkwang Museum.  In 2016, E.ON supported a contemporary exhibition for the first time, with major works by the sculptor, Katharina Fritsch.

E.ON’s extensive E.ON art collection, includes over 2,000 works by 700 artists, displayed in the company headquarters and many offices.  Some of the more important works are on display in public areas.  the main focus of the collection is on post-war and contemporary German art, and most art works were acquired during the 1990s.   All media are represented and artists represented include Tony Cragg, Jackson Pollock, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Andreas Gursky.

Note:  E.ON is a German energy company / European holding company, based in Essen, Germany. It runs one of the world’s largest investor-owned electric utility service providers. The name comes from the Greek word aeon which means an age.   It operates in over 30 countries and serves over 33 million customers and is one of the 30 members of the DAX stock index of major German companies

The website about the E.ON Collection is at:

https://www.eon.com/en/about-us/art-and-culture.html

Information on the E.ON collection and art programs of  20 other collections in Germany are described in the latest edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections, now available for a New Year 40% discount.  See information here:    http://www.corporateartbrief.com/?page_id=270