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.

Traveling through the wide-open spaces of Nevada in 2007, I was taken like most by the beauty of gentle proportions and subtle colors. One might perceive this large expanse of landscape as primordial. It is desolate and empty, no one else around to the horizon. But then, the conscious mind remembers 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, and at the same time to create a place in the sagebrush desert for observation, for contemplation, and for artistic work.

We are constantly confronted with numbers describing climate change, deforestation, and the decline in species. But if just numbers could get us to act, then ads in magazines or on television full of figures and equations and an occasional graph would solve the problem. But figures and equations alone don’t move people enough.

Out of this realization an idea grew that maybe through the creative means of artists, we could foster a greater respect for the desert, and for all nature.

This idea took shape over the subsequent years. I first secured eighty acres of undeveloped land in an isolated valley in the Northeastern corner of Nevada. It is a valley where the mountains have gentle proportions, and the colors are wonderfully subtle, with interspersed bright splashes of flowers, a valley near a village named Montello, which gave the idea 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 process we were also very mindful of the need to minimize our impact on the environment with the construction.

We designed a building 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 artistic ideas.

We completed the building, and the artists came; we are currently getting ready for the tenth season hosting artists, writers and composers. Along the way we also created two large scale exhibitions, at SUMA in Cedar City, UT and at Concord Art in Concord, MA. 

Stefan Hagen

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

An Interview with Joana Alarcão about the Montello Foundation:
Insights of an Eco Artist