Montello Foundation is a foundation dedicated to support artists who foster
our understanding of nature, its fragility and our need to protect it.

“The desert, to those who do listen, is more likely to provoke awe than to invite conquest.”  
- Joseph Wood Krutch, American writer, critic, and naturalist.

I was traveling through the wide-open spaces of Nevada in 2007, and I was taken like most travelers by the landscape’s beauty of gentle proportions and subtle colors. One might perceive this large expanse of visible landscape as primordial. It is desolate and empty, no one else around to the horizon. But then, the conscious mind, any conscious mind, remembers now the human responsibility for nature, in this particular place and in all nature.

This moment of recognition then took on for me a definitive, more precise purpose: to preserve a piece of this desert landscape, protecting this delicate system of flora and fauna, but then also, at the same time, to create a place in the sagebrush desert for observation, for contemplation, and for artistic work.

Out of this an idea has grown, that maybe through the creative means of artists, we can foster a greater respect for the desert and actually all nature.  

This idea has really taken shape over the last years. I first secured 80 acres of undeveloped land in an isolated valley in the Northeastern corner of Nevada. It is a valley where the mountains do have these gentle proportions, and the colors are wonderful subtle - with interspersed bright splashes of flowers, a valley near a village named Montello, and so this idea got its name: Montello Foundation.

Next came an extensive design process, to create a plan for the centerpiece of the Montello Foundation: a solitary retreat where artists can experience the vastness of a desert landscape from a safe building, a “base camp,” a unique space for inspiration and creation, a place that provides a shield from distractions in the solitude of the desert. During this proces we were also very mindful of the need to minimize our impact on the environment with the construction.

Our goal now is to create a community of individuals who care about this place and what it offers: a clean, fresh, and open space for the body and mind. 

The building is now complete, of course there will be more improvements along the way, but the retreat housed artists now for a full season in the summer and Fall of 2015. A building designed with a large shading roof under which there are two distinct spaces: one space for the bodily needs: eating; sleeping; washing, and a stove for the cold desert nights, and a second space for work: for writing; painting; drawing; studying, a space for the first materializations of new ideas.

These materializations are an important part of what we would call our cultural scene, but we have to remember also the important part artists play in our society.

We are constantly confronted with numbers describing climate change, deforestation, and the decline in species. But if just numbers could get us to act, the ads in magazines or on TV would be only figures and equations and an occasional graph, but figures and equations alone just don’t get us to act.

It is artists who are able to create this desire in us for a product, for a lifestyle. Here in this case, we want our community of artists and caring individuals to “advertise” the “product” called preservation.

Stefan Hagen

An article by Hikmet Sidney Loe in 15 bytes about the Montello Foundation:
Engaging with the Land