EcoArt – A Perfect Blend of Art & Environment for Martin County

Most of the Photo Credits go to Thomas Winter. Thanks, Tom! 

A brief history of ECOART in Martin County. The EcoArt Treasure Coast project was implemented for two years, 2009 through 2010 but has had a lasting effect on Martin County. This project introduced the concepts of ecoart to Martin County as a powerful tool to use in addressing our environmental concerns through the use of art. The Arts Council secured grant funding to bring this cutting edge concept to life, and since that time has seen projects sprout up that have roots from the original project.

Funding for this initial launch was provided by the Community Foundation for Palm Beach & Martin Counties.

EcoArt Treasure Coast (2009-2010) had two primary components: (1) the EcoArt Symposium, and (2) the apprenticeship with capstone exhibition.

The EcoArt Symposium featured:

  • Sam Bower, founder and president of, the most comprehensive Web site on environmental art movement.
  • Eco-artist Xavier Cortada on his Florida mangrove reclamation and native tree reforestation projects.
  • Eco-artist Betsy Damon on her creation of the Living Water Garden Park in Chengdu, China.
  • Eco-artist Michael Singer on the energy plant in Greenpoint, N.Y., that he designed to be friendly to plants and migrating birds.

Exhibits at the Court House Cultural Center

  • Installation of mangrove propagules and documentary to start Xavier Cortada’s Martin County reclamation project and companion ecoart project in the courthouse park.
  • “EPA: Environmental Performance Art” on loan from Exit Art, the New York gallery. Exhibit features eight of the more than 30 artists included in Exit Art’s 2008 EPA show.


  • “The Indian River Lagoon: Gateway to Saving the Everglades,” the documentary on the lagoon and St. Lucie River produced by The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties
  • “Ganga — from the Ground Up,” about man-made damage to India’s sacred Ganges river, with “A Gathering of Waters: The Rio Grande, Source to the Sea,” about a symbolic carrying of river water to the ocean.
  • “Nor Any Drop to Drink – Palestine,” about the impact of water shortages on Palestinians, with “Concrete Creek,” by Israeli Eco-Artist Shai Zakai, whose artwork helped save a creek that had been used as a dump site.
  • “Croaking Frogs: Before it’s too Late,” about efforts to save the broadest mass extinction of a species since the dinosaur, with “Malap Amphibian Deformity Project,” which studies threatened amphibians through fine art imaging.
  • “Water and Autonomy,” which examines the lack of potable water for indigenous communities in Mexico, with “Desert Rainwater Harvesting,” about how Native Americans worked with eco-artists, and university professors and students to improve water management and promote tribal culture.

2010 Eco Art Treasure Coast apprentices install floating island habitat project at FOS

2010 – The capstone exhibition of Treasure Coast EcoArtists Jesse Etelson, Gail Kosowski, Mary Segal, Brenda Leigh and Jamie Powell provide us in this exhibition with a hopeful vision. (Dec 2010-Jan 2011)

  • They help us envision creative ways to address the destruction we are wreaking through thoughtlessness. They demonstrate that innovative, scientifically designed temporary bird habitat can encourage the survival and reproduction of our resident and visiting avian populations while natural areas are restored and expanded. (Aerial Architecture, Jesse Etelson)
  • Community gardens can simultaneously provide nourishment for at risk urban populations in former “food deserts,” while also conserving water and reducing heat island effect. (Gail Kosowski)
  • Encouraging our elected officials to join the anti-plastic pollution movement by passing legislation to ban single use plastics can begin at this very exhibition with each visitor’s pledge and signature. (Mary Segal and Brenda Leigh)
  • Launching floating islands that provide habitat and food for marine life above and below the water can, along with other larger scale measures, help reduce pollution in the Indian River and St Lucie estuaries, and educate citizens at the same time. (Jamie Powell)

Since the launch a number of projects have sprung to life. Here are a few:

2010 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist – aerial architecture – native bird habitat sculpture – Audubon Society, Martin County

2011 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist – aerial architecture – purple Martin habitat sculpture – FOS

2011 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist and Arts Council of Martin County bring ecoart to South Fork High School ending with an exhibiton at the Palm Room (December 2011)

Mentored by Jesse Etelson, an EcoArt South Florida apprenticeship graduate, works by South Fork High School senior art students Courtland Thomas, Kaitlin Medley and Morgan Shelton will be on display to parents, teachers, friends and the community.

Thomas and Medley hope their work will discourage irresponsible cigarette butt littering. Their insights were based upon a research study done on the economics of tobacco and taxation in India and similarities the students observed here at home. Shelton’s work was inspired by a story she read about leatherback turtles found with 11 pounds of plastic in their stomachs; she hopes to raise awareness about the far-ranging impacts of ocean litter.

“The convergence of science, education and art is something the Arts Council has supported for many years here in Martin County,” said Nancy Turrell, the executive director of the Arts Council. “We are delighted to have the benefit of some of Jesse’s EcoArt South Florida training passed down to our talented high school students,” she added.

2012 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist and Women Supporting the Arts – East Stuart ecoart project

2012 – Ecoart South Florida, FOS and Junior League – shoreline and oyster habitat restoration – eco art workshop, downtown Stuart

2013 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist – River Justice League – demonstrations and art for clean water activism

2013 – East Stuart ecoart project – outdoor classroom and wildlife garden

2013 – Aerial Architecture – mocking bird habitat sculpture – Stuart, FL

2014 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist and River Justice League – “It Takes a Village” ecoart presentation and boat tour of IR lagoon and everglades with Houston Cypress of the Miccosukee Otter Clan and the Love the Everglades Movement – Stuart, FL and everglades national park, Miami FL

2014 – (underway now) Jesse Etelson ecoartist, City of Stuart partners with community including the Arts Council of Martin County on the Mangrove Park Ecoart project

2014 – County proposal with ecoartist Lucy Keshavar submitted to Art Places America.

2015 – Jesse Etelson ecoartist – Storm Drain Murals – Climate Change street art – 10th street rec Center and Building Bridges to Youth – East Stuart, FL

AND hopefully many more projects to come in the future.

Many thanks to so many volunteers and donors who made this project possible. The lists includes Community Foundation for Palm Beach & Martin Counties, State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, RAM Real Estate, Subaru, David Vaina, Thomas Winter Photography, South Florida Eco Art, Jeanette Mueller, Pat Williams, Florida Oceanographic Society, Harbour Bay Plaza, South Fork High School, and the City of Stuart.

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