Spitzer’s House Band Donates to Artists at Risk

Spitzer’s MLA program is contributing to an important cause through the school’s musical group The Swales. Following a recent performance,  the Landscape Architecture program pledged to make a $500 contribution to a charity, on behalf of The Swales. Marta Gutman, Interim Dean of the School of Architecture, then added $500 more from the dean’s discretionary budget, bringing the total donation up to $1,000.


The donation will be going to a charity called Artists at Risk. Artists at Risk (AR) is a non-profit network that focuses on the intersection of human rights and the arts. AR is dedicated to mapping the field of persecuted art practitioners, facilitating their safe passage from their countries of origin, hosting them at AR-Residencies, and curating related projects. Since 2013, it has created over 25 residencies for artists across 19 countries, from Finland, Germany, and Spain to Tunisia and the Ivory Coast, offering temporary relocation to artists who face persecution or imprisonment for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The network provides residencies for Ukrainian artists, curators, and cultural workers in many European cities and beyond.


To anyone unaware of the band’s operation, The Swales is an adventurous, multi-generational, membership-fluid, multi-genre group, and consists of Spitzer alumni, faculty, friends, and current students. Functioning mostly by consensus, it is an evolving project that aims to cross boundaries and let music unite us across generations, hierarchies, and different professional pathways. In its present form, song selection is deliberated and finalized as a group, led by singer/guitar player, Adrian Hayes, and accompanied by various other singers. Marcha Johnson, a long-term adjunct, and ringleader, eventually grew into the role of organizer and pseudo manager. At the core there is a strong connection to CCNY and NYC Parks, but being that the band is a self-initiated and self-defining group, they are known to welcome those who are eager to play, regardless of whether there is a connection to either organization or not. Although The Swales does not currently have a website or media in circulation, there will likely be more on the way as they continue to grow, so stay tuned.


Donations to Artists at Risk can be made on their website or directly through PayPal here.


Swales lineup at from the recent 2022 Accreditation Reception:

Adrian Hayes, lead vocals, guitar,  NYC Parks,  class of 2009

Len Hopper, guitar, adjunct,  Weintraub-Diaz Landscape Arch,  class of 1974

Anna Jalaso, vocals, ukulele, NYC Parks,  Program class of 2018

Marcha Johnson, harmonica, vocals, NYC Parks, Adjunct

Thomas McElhenney, keys, vocals,  in private practice, class of 2019

Damian Panitz, bass,  Adjunct at NYU

John Philpot, sax

Libby Richman, sax

Meredith Thomson, vocals, Student, Class of 2024

Veronica Tyson-Strait,  vocals, cowbell  – Randalls Is. Horticulture, Class of 2018

Paola Viteri, drums and vocals, -NYC Parks, studied drums 2008 CCNY Music Dept

Michael Yoken, guitar and vocals, Student, Class of 2022