THE LAND/an art site

THE LAND/an art site is the fourth in a series of Site/Project Profiles that present off-grid residencies.

THE LAND/an art site, Inc.

Address: Mountainair, NM
Office Address: 419 Granite Avenue NW, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Contact: Thomas Cates
Email: theland@comcast.net
Website: www.landartsite.org
Phone: (505) 242-1501
Open Hours: During scheduled exhibits and events or by appointmentTHE LAND/an art site, Inc., founded in 1998, maintains an outdoor work/exhibition site in the Manzano Mountains of central New Mexico devoted exclusively to site-specific, environmentally low-impact, land-based art. The site—forty acres of rolling, piñon-juniper wood- and meadowland traversed by a winding arroyo—is located four miles from Mountainair, New Mexico, about 75 miles by car from Albuquerque. There is a sheltered work area, cooking facilities, a supply or water, and a latrine. Resident artists ordinarily camp at the site or make arrangements for accommodation in one of the nearby communities. THE LAND’s mission is to support environmental art by providing opportunities for forward-thinking local and international artists to work in New Mexico; and to engage and educate the community about the environment through art. Emphasis is on site residencies and public presentations of work by artists exploring new ideas and media in ways that challenge conventional definitions of environmental art.


How is the project operated? For-profit, nonprofit, artist-run, etc.
THE LAND is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, funded by grants and private donations, and operated on a day-to-day basis by volunteers.

How long has it been in existence?
Since 1998. We incorporated as a nonprofit in 2000.

What was your motivation?
We began as a group of artists who wanted to work with the land in a meaningful way, specifically the high-desert land of central New Mexico. Basically, we’re still that, except that our “group” is now global, and more diverse than we could have imagined in the 90s. We opened a gallery and resource center in 2008. Even the site has expanded: it began as ten acres, and now it’s forty.

Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
We have a five-member Board. Tom Cates is General Director.

How are programs funded? (membership fees, public funding, sponsors, etc.)
Through grants, mostly. Artists generally take care of the basic costs of their residencies
or projects—transportation, etc.

Who is responsible for the programming? (curators, directors, etc.)
We’ve worked with a number of guest curators. We also have a core group of artists who have worked with us extensively over the years, and they can often be called upon to take on the role of curator as well.

Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
One or two group exhibits a year, and maybe five to ten individual projects/residencies, which often involve a public presentation of some kind, though not always. These can be one-day events or shows that stay up for two of three successive weekends. Our associated gallery space, THE LAND/gallery in downtown Albuquerque, has half a dozen shows each season. Gallery shows are up for four to six weeks. Other kinds of events tend to be scheduled somewhat irregularly—workshops and lectures and so on.

What kind of events are usually organized?
Site projects and residencies, site and gallery exhibits; collaborative projects with other arts, educational and environmental organizations; performances of various kinds, artists’ talks, lectures, workshops, salon-style conversations.

How is your programming determined?
Our Board, which is made up of artists and people who work in the arts, makes decisions about individual proposals, scheduling, and so on.

Do you accept proposals/submissions?

What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
In some ways we’re quite specific in what we’re looking for: Work is temporary, site-specific, land-based and low-impact. But within those parameters we are fairly hands-off. We always encourage work that is innovative, that takes a fresh and thoughtful look at what “environmental art” is. We love work that is about ideas. Artworks that are also functioning, remedial or restorative environmental interventions are important to us.

What’s working? What’s not working?
We move forward constantly, but quietly and slowly. Partly that’s for practical reasons: for one thing, funding is always a challenge. Also, the kind of art that interests us is often realized only after a fairly long period of gestation, even when it’s quite ephemeral. We’ve very gradually built a reputation that is now international. We work with artists from all over the world. The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art has asked to house our archives. We maintain certain core ideas about art and the environment, and we’ve never had to compromise on them.

What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We’re an arts and educational organization. A lot of people in the community who really care about the arts still have trouble fully understanding what it is we do. But we’ve been pleased by how many we’ve introduced not only to environmental art, but to a whole range of environmental and artistic concerns, and a whole range of ways to address them.

What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Among other things, we’ll be participating as a programming partner in next year’s ISEA [International Symposium for the Electronic Arts] here in Albuquerque, which will explore interactions of art, technology and nature. It’s called Machine Wilderness. We’ve had quite a few artists who work with digital media and technologies doing residencies at our site, which is completely off-grid. We’ve always been fascinated by how that can be accomplished and what its ramifications are. It’s an artistic challenge that really has applications that are practical and global. We also have a retrospective book and catalog due out this fall, which covers everything THE LAND has done over the last thirteen years. We’re pretty excited about that, too.

Images courtesy of THE LAND/an art site, Inc.

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