Steve Lambert

wrote a book!!!

Yearly Archives: 2019

Speaking at Camp Camp in Moldova

The Center for Artistic Activism was invited to present at Camp Camp in Chisinau, Moldova.

CampCamp is an annual international barcamp focused on campaigning and communications for civil society activists. Over four days of lectures, discussions, creative experiments and workshops, activists and professionals in marketing, advertising and media will explore practical ways to make the world a better place.

It was an honor to attend because, if I have this correct, we were the first invitees from the United States as the focus has always been on an audience and presenters from former Soviet states. We shared some of the methodology and work the Center for Artistic Activism has done around the world. We also did a short workshop on using Utopia and what is considered “impossible” to generate new ideas and ways forward.

We were able to bring along friend of the Center for Artistic Activism, Nikola Pisarev of the Contemporary Art Center in Skopje, Macedonia, to share the work the CAC has done over the past several decades.

With a Little Help from My Friends at Charlie James Gallery

With A Little Help From My Friends
A Benefit for Bryan Chagolla
September 14 – October 26, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday September 14, 6-9pm

Charlie James Gallery is moved to present With a Little Help From My Friends, a group exhibition to benefit the beloved preparator of our gallery, Bryan Chagolla. Bryan is 38 years old and has a wife and two young daughters, and he is among the finest fine art preparators here in Los Angeles. The day Bryan’s second daughter Rosalyn was born on June 19th of this year, Bryan was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and he cannot work. He is being treated at City of Hope here in LA and is fighting hard and making strides towards recovery. This show has the goal of taking care of Bryan and his family’s expenses for the next year as he receives treatment. We’ve asked our gallery artists and artists who have worked with us to donate works to the exhibition, which will run a full term from September 14th thru October 26th at the gallery.

Participating Artists Include:

Tanya Aguiñiga
Sadie Barnette
Sandow Birk
Nick Brown
Nancy Buchanan
Luke Butler
Sydney Croskery
Yasmine Diaz
Kim Dingle
Martin Durazo
Simone Gad
Ashley Gibbons
Ramiro Gomez
Alfonso Gonzalez Jr.
Tm Gratkowski
Lauren Halsey
Nano Hernandez
Lars Jan
Andrew Jensdotter
Nova Jiang
Dane Johnson
Eske Kath
Keith Rocka Knittel
Steve Lambert
Nery Gabriel Lemus
Mary Little
Brendan Lott
Narsiso Martinez
Patrick Martinez
Rachel Mason
Star Montana
Tucker Nichols
noé olivas
Dylan Palmer
Mary Anna Pomonis
William Powhida
Lee Quiñones
Casey Reas
Alexander Reben
Adee Roberson
Walter Robinson
Sandy Rodriguez
Erika Rothenberg
Shizu Saldamando
Gabriella Sanchez
Debra Scacco
Alex Schaefer
John Schlue
Julia Schwartz
Molly Segal
Guy Richards Smit
Linda Vallejo

‘508’: Remembering lives lost from drug overdoses in Seattle

story by Becca Savransky at Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the 508 Installation at Seattle City Hall.

The numbers “508” stood about 8 feet tall. They were made up of white tubes ranging in size and filled with bouquets of flowers, many of which had a small tag attached — listing a single name or sharing a memory or story.

The art installation — commissioned by the Public Defender Association — was put up earlier this month outside of Seattle City Hall to honor and remember the more than 500 people who have died in Seattle due to drug overdoses since September 2016. The exhibit — which is meant to overlap with International Overdose Awareness Day on Saturday — also marks the launch of the Public Defender Association’s “Yes to Drug User Health” campaign.


Steve Lambert, from The Center for Artistic Activism which worked with the Public Defender Association to design and create the installation, said he hoped the piece and the interactive element showed how much the community has been affected by drug overdoses.

“Statistics are boring. Statistics don’t tell the full story of the impact,” he said.

Lambert said it’s easy to look at statistics and ignore what’s behind those numbers. The city, he said, has seen numbers on overdose deaths. The team behind the installation wanted to do something that would show more.

“508 and counting, children of families that live in the area, friends of people that are mourned, parents of kids who are no longer around, needlessly,” he said. “These deaths are preventable and they’re not numbers, they’re people.”

Read the full story at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

508 at Seattle City Hall

508 is the number of people who have died from overdose in the city since the county’s Opioid and Heroine Task Force, unanimously, made a series of recommendations to stem the crisis in the county. These included opening a supervised consumption site (which we’d been working on with the Yes to SCS campaign). Since then the city has $1.4 million dollars unspent for over a year and earmarked for drug user health – specifically opening an SCS.

I designed these with numbers with The Center for Artistic Activism and Seattle’s Public Defender Association. The tubes are for people to leave behind memorials, notes, flowers. If you live in Seattle, please add to it. We tried to plan it well, but the day the numbers went up they were already behind the actual death count. We’re hoping as the politicians who have made promises walk by this, they may have a renewed sense of urgency.

The director of Real Change News Real wrote a short piece about the work. Director’s Corner: A successful approach to addiction demands political courage and compassion.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer also has a story by Becca Savransky.

Legal Challenges

The Public Defender Association had to fight City Hall on several fronts to have this placed. You can follow some of this on Here’s some excerpts:

The “508” art installation was intended to be installed inside the City Hall lobby, in the same location where city officials and many others regularly conduct political speech. The City refused permission for this, saying (counter-factually) that only City officials can hold speech events inside. While objecting on several grounds, we tried to compromise in a space where the City acknowledges others’ speech can be permitted—in the wide covered area near the 5th Avenue entrance. No success.

So late yesterday afternoon we were told “508” would have to move along. Ironically like drug users facing continuous displacement, the art installation was packed up and shuffled down to the Plaza below City Hall, on the Cherry Street side. The numbers now face inclement weather with poor protection. They await today’s rain wrapped in plastic sheets. Perhaps their new vulnerability and exposure more appropriately stand for the situation of many drug users in our community. In any event, this is our new home until September 19, which overlaps with International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31.

And a few days later (emphasis mine):

Refusing permission inside the City Hall Lobby and in the original location at the City Hall 5th Avenue entrance, the City is forcing us to re-apply for a permit every three days until September 1st for its current location on the City Hall Plaza beside Cherry Street.

The City is requiring all-day attendance to “508” to satisfy our permit. So, please attend, interact, and record your attendance. Our staff is providing this the best we can for the time being, and have organized impacted communities who are members of Yes to Drug User Health to assist during the day and at night. To record your attendance, you can fill out the form below, or send an email or picture to time stamping your attendance. In this way, we will “attend” the memorial with people power, organizing to collectively commemorate all people impacted by overdose and the drug epidemic.

The work has definitely touched a nerve with the City.

How it’s made

We designed this to happen on a timeline, hit a certain budget, be temporary and indoors. Each letter is 8ft by 4ft so they could be laser cut from a single MDF panel. The tubes are a variety of pre-made cardboard shipping tubes along with 8, 10, and 12 inch concrete form tubes you can buy at a local hardware store. We were hoping that cutting so many holes into MDF and using cardboard would keep it light, but the numbers are not light.

We originally designed the numbers for indoors – they were supposed to be located in the lobby of City Hall. If we were to do it again:

  • Outdoors, but not permanent, and slightly higher budget: Outdoor treated plywood and PVC pipe tubing
  • Outdoors, and permanent, and way higher budget: welded aluminum

Fabrication by Boomslang in Seattle.

Here’s some early sketches:

Real Change Director on 508 at Seattle City Hall

Tim Harris, the Director of Seattle’s Real Change Newspaper wrote about the 508 installation at Seattle City Hall. Excerpt below and you can read the whole story at Real Change’s site.

Director’s Corner: A successful approach to addiction demands political courage and compassion

The obvious question that arises is “What? Why?”

The answer comes down to this. In the hierarchy of the deserving and undeserving poor, drug users rate solidly in the Let ‘Em Die zone. And in a city where disgust over visible misery now animates our elections, inaction is the safer political path.

Kris Nyrop has been on the front lines of drug use harm reduction for 31 years, and was around when needle exchange began as fringe movement. I asked him how Seattle could just sit on $1.4 million in relief in the face of such an obvious crisis. He offered a litany of lacks.

“Lack of political will. Lack of sense of urgency. Lack of any compassion. Lack of consideration.”

“It’s about who’s dying,” he continued. “If we had two deaths here of Ebola or West Nile Virus or something like that, they’d be allocating millions of dollars for that and be freaking the fuck out. This is about disposable people.”

Nyrop likened the lack of response to overdose deaths to inaction over the Green River Killer.

“When women involved in sex work were dying, no one cared. The only people who gave a rat’s ass were the people on the front lines and the social workers. Everyone else just sat around and twiddled their thumbs. The people who care about overdose deaths are the family members and friends of people who die, and police and medics.”

“The politicians who could actually make a difference here aren’t doing squat. They allocate $1.4 million and it’s just sitting in a bank account somewhere.”

The Public Defender Association is spearheading a campaign to put those funds to use, and there’s no shortage of ideas for how to reduce the death count.

Delays Mean Deaths site

In 2016, the The King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force unanimously approved a recommendation to open a Safe Consumption Space. Safe Consumption Spaces (SCSs), also known as safe injection facilities, safe injection sites, or drug consumption rooms, have been saving lives around the world for over 30 years. There are now over 100 sites worldwide. There have been millions of injections at these sites and ZERO overdose deaths. (Learn more)

In the years that have followed politicians in the cities and county have dragged their feet. Meanwhile hundreds have died of overdoses. estimates daily the number of people who have died while we wait for Seattle and King County to follow through. The site also shares resident submitted stories and memorials of people who have died from overdose deaths in King County.

You can learn about the project at the FAQ and learn about the data and sources we’re drawing from.

We created this projcet as part of the Center for Artistic Activism‘s Accelerator Program with Seattle’s Public Defender Association.

We built the site on WordPress and published the code today on GitHub.

Open Ocean Exhibition at Mystic Seaport Museum

I have a work, “SAND OCEAN SKY – The Commons” included in Mary Mattingly‘s exhibition at the Mystic Seaport Museum called Open Ocean.

An retro roadside sign on a beach that reads "SAND OCEAN SKY, AVAILABLE 7 DAYS, FREE OF CHARGE"

Sand Ocean Sky – The Commons

Mary Mattingly’s Open Ocean

Mary Mattingly at the Mystic Seaport Museum

Mary Mattingly at the Mystic Seaport Museum

R.J. Schaefer Building at Mystic Seaport Museum

Open now through January 2021

Mary Mattingly is a leading contemporary artist from Brooklyn, New York, with an interest in the sea as a platform for artmaking. In 2018, she was invited to participate in a “think tank” at Mystic Seaport Museum that brought together eight prominent scholars from across the arts and humanities to participate in a day-long discussion with Museum staff, management, and trustees. It was funded jointly by Henry Luce and Chipstone foundations.

The invitation to her was made because of the frequent intersection of her practice with maritime subjects, including her continuing installation, “Swale,” a barge-based food forest in New York City that provides fresh produce to residents by circumventing laws prohibiting agriculture in the city. Mattingly spoke at the program about her work, and the concept of an ocean commons – a space for us to come together, a place of respite from conventional governance, a global system both liberating in its vastness and malleability and crushing in the responsibility it endows us with.

After that session, the Museum applied for and received a substantial grant from the Luce Foundation to support the curation and development of three new collections installations and related programming. These projects will provide new perspectives on the art and ensure the continued preservation and refinement of the collections while also promoting public access.

Mattingly’s exhibition is the first of the three. For several months she has immersed herself in the collections vault, poring over artworks, opening drawer after drawer of artifacts, in search of “evidence of how the sea has always challenged the rigidity of modern, terrestrial life; how its very nature permits a different tenor of creativity.”

From that, she has developed an exhibition that examines the oceans from three perspectives:

  • As a largely unknown space that is shared by everyone but governed by
  • As a massive component of private enterprise
  • As the “heart” of the planet, covering 71 percent of the Earth

So the stories the exhibition will tell are ones of time and space, invention and commerce, and climate change and depleted resources.


Keynote and “Capitalism Works for Me” at NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Scotland

I’ll be in Scotland this September presenting Capitalism Works For Me! True/False at the NEoN Festival (Northeast of North). In addition to performing with the sign I’ll be giving a keynote speech to be named later.

NEoN Digital Arts Festival Announces Flagship Artist Steve Lambert

A tide of change is sweeping across the globe — from immigration to the rise in nationalism — socio-political landscapes are increasingly subject to crisis. Unparalleled events such as Brexit, the #MeToo movement and the Yellow Vest Protests in Paris have elicited an unprecedented response as activists and community groups mobilise.

Digital and media art has, from its inception, had close ties to political and social activism. NEoN Digital Arts Festival’s theme this year, ‘REACT’, will bring together emerging and established digital artists, activists and community groups.

Neon React Poster

This year we will ask; What role digital art can play in our political systems? How can digital arts activism engage people in socio-political issues? How do we protest differently in a digital age?

In the past few years digital technology and new platforms, many realised by artists, have encouraged greater social and political engagement, enhancing and expanding opportunities for citizens to directly participate in civil society activism. Artists are often driven by a need for new ways to connect, and to share views on the world with one another. Now more than ever, we need to learn from the ways artists use digital technology to better understand how to engage with and react against the world around us.

To help us REACT on the streets of Dundee we are very pleased to be bringing Steve Lambert’s work ‘Capitalism Works for Me – True or False’. The work, a 20-foot by nine-foot red, white and blue retro-styled illuminated scoreboard, with the slogan “Capitalism Works for Me!” allows passersby to vote “true” or “false” on this statement, and initiate a direct conversation about capitalism.

Lambert says; “The Father of Capitalism, and fellow Scotsman, Adam Smith, published his magnum opus on economics almost 250 years ago. Back then the The Wealth of Nations was discussed in the universities and pubs of Scotland. The landed gentry will be welcomed again, but this time we’ll include everyone subjected to the system put in place centuries ago. How has capitalism worked out? Did everything go according to plan? Are we all better off? Could we do better?”

“We discuss capitalism every day using euphemisms like “jobs”, “job creation”, “the business climate”, and discussing whatever “crisis” is deemed relevant; a housing crisis, financial crisis, health care crisis, tax crisis, immigration crisis, or fill- in-the blank crisis. But the whole economic system is rarely a topic of frank discussion – much less alternatives or meaningful reform.”

“As a culture, we need the vision and boldness it takes to discuss the problem itself. The idea that “there is no alternative” to the way our world works takes away our ability to dream. As citizens we need the courage to begin these discussions on order to move on to new and better visions for the future.”

“This is what art is for. This is what art does well. It creates creates a space where new ideas and perspectives can be explored. A space unlike any other. And don’t worry, an Invisible Hand can’t push the buttons that change the score. Only you can do that.”

Steve Lambert’s work can be seen during the festival 4th – 10th November outside the Steeple Church, Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4DG. 10am – 5pm daily. The artists will be on site during these days.

Photo of Steve Lambert by Bryony Jackson

About NeON

NEoN (North East of North) aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology driven art forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. NEoN has organised exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions and established itself as a platform to showcase national and international digital art forms. By bringing together emerging talent and well-established artists, we aim to influence and reshape the genre. We are committed to helping our fabulous city of Dundee, well known for its digital culture and innovation, to become better connected through experiencing great art, networking and celebrating what our wee corner of Scotland has to offer in the field of digital arts.

Laser cut case for HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sonar Sensor

This is part of a bigger project we’re working on for the Center for Artistic Activism. Everything is cut from 1/8 acrylic with room for wires out the bottom and a hole where you can attach a 1/4 tripod mount (you’ll need a nut). Otherwise it’s all pressure fit – no hardware needed.

This is designed around the HC-SR04 sold by SparkFun but we made adjustments to fit other sensors.

This was re-drafted through a few iterations in the SUNY Purchase New Media Fab Lab. Thanks to C4AA Resident Artist Iris Li Zihan.


I used 1/8 in acrylic, but the precise thickness varies from sheet to sheet and within each sheet, so you’ll want to make some adjustments.

There are 6 layers that make up the case around the sensor. They are numbered front to back. Once you have the 6 layers cut, measure the thickness of one piece and the thickness of all 6 layers with some calipers. Use those measurements to make adjustments to the thickness of the “mortises” on the TOP and BOTTOM pieces and the overall distance between their outside edges.

The files are on with a Creative Commons license – and if that’s ever not the case let me know.

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