i am here to share my anxiety


I thought the lecture by Martha Schwartz on Monday night would save me from my own anxiety…watching the Presidential Debate. The lecture started at 6:30 pm and I was home in plenty of time to watch the debate. The best I could hope for was that Schwartz’s lecture would be like a good aperitif before a bad meal.

Schwartz voiced her concern about the debate, but also her apprehension, fear, and panic about the current climate change situation, “I want to become a climate change warrior.  What can we do?  We need to make people aware of the urgency of the situation – we have ten years max.”


Robert Smithson – Spiral Jettyl 1970


Jacob Javits Plaza, New York, NY 1997

Schwartz switched gears and spoke about her life-long influence: the land art movement.  She credited artists, like Robert Smithson and Richard Long for informing her ideas about landscape. “The land art movement made me see landscape in a different way.”
It was hard to make the connection between the land art movement and  Martha Schwartz’s landscape architecture career with the exception of her art/conceptual projects.The Bagel Garden put Schwartz on the map.  “I made a bet with myself.  I challenged myself to create a garden/installation  for $100 using materials in my neighborhood.  There was a bagel shop, a flower shop  and a hardware store.  As you know bagels do well in the shade.”  This was landscape as artifact.  She joked,  “The apex of my career was the bagel garden.”


Exchange Square, Manchester, UK – benches created using railroad materials reminiscent of history of Manchester’s role in the Industrial Revolution.


Exchange Square, Manchester, UK 2000

Exchange Place in Manchester, UK illustrated the role of  landscape can play as regenerative in the  city –   how public space can create an image for a community:  a place that is distinctive, unique, memorable, and desirable.  Schwartz:  “landscape is the bedrock of our self-esteem.”


Fengming Mountain Park in Chongquing, China. 2013 Photo courtesy of


Photo courtesy of

“We are very big in China. They like us and we like them, at least most of the time.” Schwartz  The orange structures  in Fengming Mountain Park are kind of sign posts that  move the visitor from t e top of the  park to the sales center at the bottom of the large property. This is landscape as stage set design.   At night, these structures light up like lanterns.


Village of Yorkville Park, Toronto Canada, 1995 – large sculptural rock outcropping recalls the native Canadian Shield bedrock formation.

Schwartz is an advocate for the power of art to transform site into a place. A place that people want to maintain for generations, because it meets their spiritual, psychological and emotional needs.  Listening to Schwartz was the perfect cocktail for the upcoming debate.  However, around 10 pm, I needed a major digestif.

Martha Schwartz
Design and Sustainability
September 26, 2016
New York Botanical Garden
18th Annual Landscape Design Portfolios Lecture Series:
Artistic Expression in the Landscape






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