Endangered Environ Artist Statements

Pat Arnow
Writer, Editor, and Photographer
Pat became an activist when the city announced the total destruction of East River Park in order to build a giant levee—the most destructive possible method of providing flood control to our Lower East Side neighborhood. She is one of the founders of East River Park ACTION, a grassroots organization devoted to saving East River Park and advocating for a green flood control plan.
“The joyous summer photos of people in the glorious spray in East River Park show what will be lost for the people in our neighborhood—truly an endangered environ.”

Amy Berkov
Biologist and Community Gardener
Amy is a 40-year resident of the East Village who made a mid-career change to tropical ecology, with a special interest in plant-insect interactions. When I learned that the City was planning to destroy or displace every living thing within the East River Park, I used citizen science observations (iNaturalist and eBird, with a bird survey conducted by Loyan Beausoleil) to come up with a preliminary species list. To my surprise, I learned that the Park was home to, or providing resources for, 11 species that are rare in New York State. I’ve included photographs of a ground-nesting golden northern bumble bee (Bombus fervidus), which is a NY State Critically Imperiled, High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need, and two red-breasted mergansers (Mergus serrator), which are classified as NY State Vulnerable. I’ve also included the locust borer (Megacyllene robiniae), which is not a rare species, but was recently recorded for the first time in the East River Park. The Environmental Impact Statement did not include any mitigation for biodiversity.

Melinda Billings
Photographer, Gardener & Volunteer at LES Ecology Center
As the city is planning to bury East River Park much of the biodiversity in the park is endangered. This includes trees, native plants, and habitat for birds, butterflies, native bees, insects, and animals. It can take years for certain species to return after their habitat is destroyed. Protecting wildlife habitats and our biodiversity is crucial in keeping our world healthy. Bald Eagle in East River Park, Photograph 11×14 date 1/27/2020 by Melinda Billings
The Bald Eagle was on the verge of extinction in 1978. Thanks to conservation efforts the eagles have started to come back. They are no longer endangered but are still protected by multiple federal laws. In January of this year at 8am in the morning I spotted one in East River Park for the first time sitting on one of our London plane trees and took this photograph. Red Trillium, Trillium erectum, Photograph 11×14 location East River Park spring 2019. Red Trillium is a NY State protected native plant listed as exploitably vulnerable. Weeds and wildflowers #1 by Melinda Billings 10×10. Weeds and wildflowers #2 11×11. These watercolor paintings were made using natural plant dyes from the native plants and weeds I collected in East River Park while working as a gardener there. All plants are part of the park’s habitat which is in danger of being destroyed. Weeds and wildflowers series.

Lois Carlo
Designer and Artist
“I wondered”
Once I wondered…. Where have all the elm trees gone….and where have all the artists gone; the art stores; the music shops; the poets…
Where have all the willows gone…the shoemaker; the Jewish bread store; the Italian delis…. Soon I will ponder…..Where have all the gardens gone? Someone will say,
“They’ve gone on top of Condos everyone.”
Lois Carlo

Kathy Creutzburg
Artist and Sculptor
Kathy is a public artist whose sculptures, mosaics, and paintings are inspired by landscapes. For two consecutive years, she won the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Creative Engagement grant. Between 2018- 2020, Ms. Creutzburg and her collaborative team won numerous grants and residencies for their sculptural installation, ​Whispers in the Grove.​ Exhibits include the Figment NYC- “Dream Bigger” award, Governors Island; Phillips Manor Hall residency, Yonkers- NYS Council on the Arts; 6BC Botanical Garden and Lower East Side Ecology Center- Lower Manhattan Cultural Council- Creative Engagement award; and the Rye Art Center Public Art Program, Rye, NY. In 2018, she was privately commissioned to create a glass mosaic, Glory,​ on an East Village residential building facade. Her collaborative project, Triangula, ​ began as​ ​ a sculpture for the 2017 Chashama Gala, then grew to include poetic and dance improvisations which culminated at the Sam and Sadie Koenig Garden in the East Village. In 2016, the United Universalist Association PEACE fellowship in Raleigh, North Carolina commissioned her steel sculpture, ​Loose Ends,​ for their Peace Memorial Garden. She also designed and facilitated ​Hand in Hand, ​ a mosaic glass, and painted mural for the facade of Park Slope United Methodist Church in Brooklyn. An NYC School Construction Authority restoration grant made her numerous sculptures and mosaic murals at Public School 61 in Manhattan a permanent part of their collection in 2014. Ms. Creutzburg exhibited monumental sculptures in the “Figment Summer Long Sculpture Garden” on Soldier’s Field National Monument, Governors Island for three consecutive years, 2012-214, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been shown in solo exhibits at Michael Mut Gallery and at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and group shows at Artist Equity, Station Independent Gallery, and Central Booking in New York City.

Shawn Dahl
Graphic Designer and Community Gardener
How does the East River Park make others feel? They come in all shapes and sizes. I recognize so many of them every time I push myself to get up before dawn. The dedicated early morning walkers, moving at a pace almost meeting mine, coming toward me, or I run around them, stretching as far a distance away from them as possible. How do the fishermen think of the East River Park? Or the bikers, racing by with lights flashing, or the couple roller skaters, shirts off? And all the commuters that start trickling by when I’ve turned around and aim for home. Their shift starts long before mine—construction workers in their fluorescent vests, medical workers in their scrubs heading north? How Does the East River Park make you feel?

Kristan Enos
Film Cameraman, Photographer, and Community Gardener
Kris is a photographer by trade, most all of the works that I have exhibited in the past have been some type of photo. My studies in lighting, filmmaking, and photography were done at The New School and The School of Visual Arts. My grandmother Tecla was a painter, and a painting restorer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She first taught me to paint a still-life at the age of 5. In my high school days, I painted some. After that I went on, taking my knowledge of light and color and how our eyes perceive it to my photography, in both film and digital formats. Now I have returned to painting after a 45-year hiatus. I am working presently in both realistic and abstract styles. This series of three cloud paintings on canvas were a reversal of the views that I concentrated on in my last series, which had been inspired by my drone photography, all with downward-facing views. Lying in the park looking up I shot photos of clouds above me and took them home to paint the scenes.

George Hirose
Photographer, Instructor, and Community Gardener
What Will Be Lost… There are thousands of trees that will be destroyed if the city’s plan to demolish East River Park goes through. Each tree embodies a special life, a testament to the importance of nature in our urban environment. I have many favorite trees in this park. These are some that I have documented after dark in quiet solitude except for the seemingly distant noises of the nearby metropolis. This is when the park is most beautiful to me.
From the series:
What Will Be Lost…
East River Park, 2018 – 2020 Nine 8×8 inch archival pigment prints.
All images are long exposures shot on a Canon 5D Mark 3.

Harriet Hirshorn
Photographer and Filmmaker
Harriet is an indépendant filmmaker living on the lower east side since the beginning of time and whose films focus on social justice issues.

Deborah Mills
Wood sculptor
Deborah has been carving wood for 30 years, attracted by something holy in the material. Wood from a felled tree was once alive, and after death, it keeps breathing, contracting and expanding in response to weather, sun, humidity. It just feels alive, so I look for the numen or spirit within it and try to coax it into sight.
I found this piece of driftwood washed ashore on an embayment in East River Park. It had whales in it everywhere I looked, so I strove to make them visible. I imagined that, as the driftwood floated along at sea, it ran across a few whales (and maybe a hippocamp) on its way here.
East River Park is remarkable for how much nature it encompasses: groves of huge mature trees that shade, cool and clean the air; grassy fields, a variety of bushes and plants that change with every season, and provide food and shelter for birds and mammals and insects. So many microclimates and ecosystems support a surprising plethora of natural life. It’s a joy in every season.
For the DeBlasio administration to switch our prior resilient flood plan into a plan to wantonly destroy the entire park was immoral from the beginning – to insist on shutting and destroying this rare natural gem during the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic is grotesquely wrong on every level: economic, health, social justice, climate justice, environmental justice, whatever metric you use. We must preserve every tree and fight to keep the joy of nature within reach of every person in the LES and EV.
Deborah Mills

George Metritikas
Wood Sculptor
George was born in Greece at the end of WWII. He is a self-taught wood sculptor and outsider artist extraordinaire.  He recalls as earliest memories his relationships and fascination with animals and birds, his most frequent sculptural subjects.  “Gull” is a portrait of one of his many friends from the East River Promenade, a particular gull that George observed (and which observed George) over the course of a year living near the East River promenade at Brooklyn Bridge.

Dorine Oliver
Artist, Print Maker, and Community Gardener
Dorine paints mostly with watercolors since 2008. She is also a muralist, printmaker, and decorative artist. She is classically trained. She studied at ENsaD in Paris then at the Art Students League in Manhattan. She is regularly showing her work in New York galleries. She currently shows 2 murals on Roosevelt Island at the Motorgate Gallery and at the South tip of the Island painted for RIOC, Fall for the Arts Festival.

Carolyn Ratcliffe
Artist, Photographer, Curator, and Community Gardener
Carolyn is a preservationist who has lived in the East Village since 1976. She is involved with the East Village Community Gardens and is the Artistic Director of Art Loisiada Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood arts/artists and engaging the community in environmentally-themed art events, including free children’s art workshops, multidisciplinary performances, and visual art exhibits in local venues, including community gardens.

Alexia Weidler
Artist and Community Gardener
Walking along the East River Park in Autumn, one of the many sights of beauty is the abundance of Monarch butterflies silently floating by. They rest to feed on the nectar plants as they travel their arduous and ancient migratory path along the coastline from Canada to Mexico. One afternoon, coming upon a buttonbush covered with Monarchs, I was amazed to spot a tiny Monarch Watch tag affixed to one butterfly’s wing. The next day I submitted the tag code to the University of Kansas email which was printed on that tag and listed East River Park as the location of my observation. Another afternoon walking through a patch of milkweed near the Williamsburg bridge, I spotted a Monarch’s chrysalis dangling from a branch. Slumbering folded wings soon to be transformed into flight could be seen through her dark transparent enclosure. Every few days I would walk by to check, until one day I found the milkweed patch had been mowed down. The chrysalis nowhere to be found. I hoped for the best that this Monarch had safely emerged and had made her way down to Mexico. Biologists have been concerned about these iconic butterflies, as their numbers in reaching their overwintering sites in Mexico has continued to decline. Conservation organizations have established programs which call upon citizen scientists to help collect Monarch monitoring data. Using such data, a recent study by researchers in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, suggests that along with climate change, habitat fragmentation and the lack of nectar sources also contributes to this decline. Soon our park, this vibrant source of nectar, will be entirely mowed down. And along with it, the health and well-being of our surrounding neighborhoods will be sacrificed. For the sake of Wall Street, a sterile walled-in park is to be built. Why is New York City failing to be a world leader in adapting to sea level rise? Why is this administration putting a 17th-century technology onto a 21st-century problem? Why are elected city officials, cocooned in their un-transparent backroom dealings, foisting this short-sighted, greed-driven plan upon our community? What will emerge and who will survive and thrive in the future? I will not be around in 100 years when some of these answers might be revealed, but I truly hope that the Monarchs are still there, silently floating by.

Sally Young
Artist, Photographer, Art Instructor, and Community Gardener
Sally is a painter, photographer, activist, and as of lately, activist/muralist artist, who has made her home in the East Village since 1980. She usually exhibits her work as a painter, but often works in photographic mediums and studied Photography as part of a double-major while attending art school. Sally has been actively working on a photo essay that spans over years of photographs taken from traveling on trains from NYC to the South and back. Many of her paintings are based on these photos. The photos in this show are from a September 2019 protest of the city’s decision to bury East River Park as a move to stop storm surges and flooding as an ill-conceived plan that would be better served by following an earlier and sounder plan that had been scrapped at the last minute by city officials. Many people are included in these photos but there are three individuals that take prominence in them: Nadege Alexis in Tompkins Square Park, Reverend Billy on East 4th Street outside of Carlina Rivera’s office, and Victor Weiss holding a sign I made, that he has carried to multiple protests and I thank him for that.