Coming Attractions

By Jim McCloskey

Through the past several weeks, I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of conversations about ART – Artistic Resources & Training.   

It’s the new educational forum being built by Mark Holden and a collection of like-minded professionals (including David Tisherman, Kevin Fleming, Judith Corona and Larry Drasin, among many others) who want to kick the level of instruction and information now available to watershapers and environmental artists up to a whole new level. 

It’s a fresh concept, says Holden – much more of a college-style, goals-based approach to teaching and learning in which students are held to high standards, instructors are eminently qualified in specific subject areas and the curriculum has a sharply defined goal of bringing excellence to watershaping, now and for the future.

It carries me back to the very early days of WaterShapes:  In 1999, we set out with the aim to make the magazine a vehicle for communicating the best watershaping had to offer by way of ideas, projects, techniques and technologies.  This philosophical backdrop sustained the magazine for years and we saw real progress.  Still, what was going on with advanced education in watershaping always struck me as a bit too random, much too narrowly focused on swimming pools and far too informal:  association without structure, reach without grasp, ambition without achievement.

That situation is, I think, about to change.

There’s an interview with Mark Holden in the March 21, 2012 edition of our WaterShapes EXTRA newsletter that defines ART in far greater detail.  I don’t want to steal any more of his thunder, so I’ll conclude here with two key points: 

First, WaterShapes EXTRA and are committed to furthering ART’s mission to expel mediocrity and replace it with excellence.  We will work with its instructors and students to share insights, experiences and revelations.  We will fill our Web site and newsletters with information that complements ART’s mission with professionals.  And we will extend that mission by arming interested consumers with questions that need to be asked if artful, excellent projects are to result. 

Second, I see a future through ART.  For a long time, I have had the sense that education in watershaping and aquatic design was at best stuck in a rut and at worst had careened into a ditch.  With ART, I now see an entity and a movement that will be capable of perpetuating itself and having an enduring, evolutionary effect on designers, builders, engineers, allied professionals and consumers of both decorative and recreational water.  

In short, I see amazing things on the horizon.  I invite you to follow my blog and WaterShapes EXTRA to keep up with this fast-developing project.  And pass the word:  This is going to be exciting.  


If you have comments or additional thoughts to offer, please do so below.  And be sure to share this blog (and the Mark Holden Interview) with anyone you know who might be interested!


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2 Responses to Coming Attractions

  1. Shawn Burch says:

    I have followed you, Watershapes and Genesis for over 12 years now. You were one of the biggest cheerleaders for Genesis and now it appears you might be completely discounting all the good that the Genesis Group did to try and advance watershape education. Are you suggesting that we abandon Genesis and jump on board with the A.R.T. group? In speaking with Skip, he says that they are completely revamping the education program and hiring great new teachers (since most of the original Genesis teachers are now with A.R.T.). If you feel that there might have been a problem with the Genesis educational program, remember that David put it together and is now part of A.R.T.

    May I suggest that there is room for both educational groups? There is no need for any rivalry or animosity. In reviewing the A.R.T. program, I see a class that interests me and I am sure that Genesis will also have classes that I will want to take. I would like to see your role as more of an independent reporter that can give us the “unbiased” news from ALL educational groups. I have always respected your opinions and trust you to give us both sides of the story. Jim, can you do this for myself and all your many readers?

  2. Mark Holden says:


    You suggest that there is only way to go with education, and that’s through Genesis 3. For my part, I see room for ART as an extension and elaboration of the Genesis 3 approach and think all builders who want to improve their skills should be exposed to Genesis courses. I believe that firmly enough, in fact, that I’ve made some G3 courses prerequisites for ART classes.

    As I have told anyone who asks, ART is simply a response to students asking, “What’s next?”

    You criticize Jim McCloskey and WaterShapes for betraying G3, but on what grounds? As he himself has said, competition generates a better educational environment for everyone – exactly the same situation as when G3’s level 1 school came on the scene in 1998. The inference that there is “rivalry or animosity” is yours, not his. Jim and his magazine have told the Genesis story for more than a dozen years, and it seems hasty to jump him for helping something new get established.

    Education improves everyone’s life in myriad ways. Bill Drakeley just said to me that he’s “a firm believer that there never can be enough quality education in any industry” – something I believe as well and see as the essence of what ART is all about. I believe that G3 will continue to be a great educational resource and that its participants will prosper.

    For now, I think those who want to take classes with ART should be allowed that privilege, and I rest well knowing that Jim will support all such endeavors, no matter their source, because he believes that this sort of education is a necessity rather than a contest.

    Mark Holden
    HoldenWater/Artistic Resources & Training
    Fullerton, Calif.

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