Archive for 2009

Share your stories: Pen Guns, Survival Shelters, Survival Kits, Wine and Spirits recipes

This is a space to share your stories – whether the method of making pen guns that you grew up with or shelters you’ve experienced, please let us know how this piece resonates with you.


Barry Wise wrote:

During the 50′s my family was invited to visit a neighbor’s bomb shelter. It was pretty cool actually. And trendy! I remember, they had a cocktail party the night they showed it off. Wanting to keep up with the Joneses, my father dutifully stocked one of our downstairs rooms with canned goods and toiletries. However, unlike the neighbor’s shelter which was underground and presumably radiation-proof, our little room was above ground. Luckily, we never needed it. The Whitney Lynn stuff really does make you think about it all though. I can also see how Californians would either be obsessed by it, or just ignore it, with all the earthquakes, mudslides, etc.

Annotated Links

Reading Material

Improvised Modified Firearms: Deadly Homemade Weapons

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Living in the Heart of the City

U.S. Army Survival Manual “21-76″ (online PDF version) – Army Survival Manual is the finest single source for self-reliance for all extreme circumstances. A must for anyone who wants to know how to survive in primitive conditions.

Cooking with Surplus and Excess

SAS Essential Survival Guide – Practical survival handbook based on SAS training and techniques, taught to members of that coveted special forces cadre. The guidecovers every aspect of survival in the world’s most inhospitable places.


– MAKE Magazine brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the technology in your life. MAKE is loaded with exciting projects that help you make the most of your technology at home and away from home. We celebrate your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your own will.

SFGate Article about layouffs at the once-independent DIY magazine ReadyMade caused by the declining revenues of its parent company, media conglomerate Meredith Corp.

Dwell Magazine


“Helping You Live The Life You Want, If Times Get Tough, Or Even If They Don’t”

Survival Seed Bank lets you plant a full acre crisis garden

Somewhere in-between:

Moonshine Returns!  an entertaining article on by Catherine Price explaining the history of Moonshine and it’s new, still illegal, resurgence.

And I feel Fine by Heidi De Vries

It is a truth universally acknowledged that many Californians, despite willingly living on land that could open up at their feet and swallow them whole at any given moment, possess nothing even remotely resembling a proper emergency kit.  Until very recently I was no exception.  I was born and raised in California and have ridden out more earthquakes than I care to count, and still it took me until I was in my early 30s before I finally ordered a pre-packed bag full of emergency supplies from the Red Cross.  Of course my grasp of what to do with the many items in that backpack is tenuous at best, but I’m operating under the assumption that if disaster strikes I’ll have a spare moment to read its enclosed manual.

Upon first inventory the purpose of the contents of Whitney Lynn’s survival kit might seem similarly mysterious, but here too there is a manual.  Her pamphlet immediately inspires confidence with its promise of useful information, its cover printed with an official-looking logo as well as a variety of acronyms that could be military codes.  Lynn did not make these up; they are actual acronyms that would be familiar to anyone in the survivalism movement.  For example, “SHTF” stands for “Shit Hits The Fan”.  “TEOTWAWKI” is “The End Of The World As We Know It”.  Survivalists do have a sense of humor.

By inviting participation in the piece Lynn quickly draws you into an imagined narrative, encouraging you to picture yourself in a situation in which this kit might be necessary and useful.  Perhaps you’ve chosen to sequester yourself away in the woods to kick-start your creative process with a dose of isolation and would use the items to meet some of your basic needs, like the alcohol you can make with the yeast and the balloon.  In a more pessimistic scenario, perhaps one of the laundry list of catastrophes called out in the pamphlet has occurred and it’s every individual for themselves, in which case assembly of the DIY Survival Weapon, cleverly labeled as such, takes on a new sheen of urgency.  In any event you can always draw motivation from the artwork on the back of the pamphlet, included to provide inspiration.

Our ancestors who lived a lot closer to the land than many of us do might be puzzled about why we would need this kit, and they would also probably laugh at the earnestness with which the present-day sustainability movement exhorts all human beings to reduce/reuse/recycle.  There was a time when such a philosophy wasn’t even optional.  However, in these days of industrial agriculture and the supermarkets’ pale, hothouse-grown tomatoes, it can feel like a powerful decision to eat a fresh heirloom from a home garden or a local farm.  But then ideas about self-sufficiency are taken to a whole other level by the modern survivalists who in the case of societal collapse are prepared to live completely by their own means — and surrounded by all the supplies they have purchased in advance.

Lynn has chosen banal, everyday objects for her kit but invests them with unexpected meanings by framing them up within the new context of “failure management“, and in this way she nods to the genuine resourcefulness and creativity required to be a successful survivalist.  She has also created a cohesive brand for the kit that slyly pulls from survivalism literature and terminology, referencing both the consumerist culture that survivalists need in order to stock their bunkers as well as the fear of its disintegration that drives their actions.  Buy early and buy often, before there are no stores left.

The ideal of stubborn individualism is deeply ingrained in the stories of the early United States, from almost-mythical figures like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett to images of the ‘49ers and other pioneers staking out new territory during the country’s insatiable expansion west.  Modern survivalists might feel like they are tapping into that spirit of the original American do-it-yourselfers when they visualize themselves hunkering down alone in a well-provisioned cabin.  Except the people who actually did survive in those days of yore were the ones who turned to their neighbors for mutual help and support instead of locking their doors against them.

Heidi De Vries works as a manager at an advertising company by day and freelances as a writer and a music consultant.  She is also a volunteer DJ at KALX Berkeley 90.7fm, and though her show is currently on hiatus she would be happy to recommend some awesome tunes for you anytime. You can find her at her blog, Engineer’s Daughter.

Interview with Whitney Lynn

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

icon for podpress  Interview with Whitney Lynn [25:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Introduction to the DIY Survival Kit


“DIY Survival Kit” is an edition of 65 by artist Whitney Lynn designed to prepare you for the ultimate disaster.  Whether an earthquake, tornado, or chemical weapon attack, Lynn provides you with the essentials: a barterable good, a weapon, and a means to keep your mind off the bleakness of your situation.  Nothing in the kit, however, is complete.  She gives you the materials and the inspiration, but if you are going to survive – you are going to have to Do it Yourself.

Lynn’s Kit draws inspiration equally from survivalist subcultures and more left leaning do-it-yourself (DIY) movements. She writes:

I am interested in exploring the way survivalism stands at the extreme end of renewed interests in self-sufficiency and sustainability. I am also interested in looking at the role of aesthetics and branding in altering the way survivalism is viewed.

Survivalism is born out of creative acts, but is also symptomatic of a culture of fear and isolation. The question I’m interested in is where is the line between the Unabomber’s and Thoreau’s cabin; the urban homesteader or the survivalist?

sticker_larger sticker_larger sticker_larger

Whitney Lynn is a multi-media artist who explores the messy intersections between political, military, and civilian cultures. Her work has been exhibited at venues such as Exit Art, New York; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and the 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA. She is the recipient of travel grants from the College Art Association and the Southeastern College Art Conference and her work has received critical attention from a number of publications including The New York Times, Daily Serving and Style Weekly. Born on an Air Force Base in Williams, AZ, she received her BFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Up Next: Ingrid Burrington


Ingrid Burrington grew up in Northern California and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She works in text, photography, performance, and print, and has produced projects both as a free agent and under the guise of semi-fictional think tanks, which have appeared throughout the mid-Atlantic and online. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in printmaking.

oh hai – it’s the holidaze



Art Work at Sight School

Sight School is a new project space run by Michelle Blade and (TPG #11 critic)  Matthew Rana. The space began from a desire to create dialogue around new modes of living and being in the world in order to reveal connections between art and life.  Thier first event is being held on this Friday, December 18th.


Sight School is pleased to host this one-night exhibition and public reading of Chicago-based collective Temporary Services’ newspaper titled, “Art Work: A National Conversation on Art, Labor and Economics.”

A handful of local artists, writers and curators including Sean Fletcher & Isabel Reichert, Lynne McCabe, Julian Meyers, Ted Purves, and Natasha Wheat will deliver public readings of texts directly from or related to the newspaper, while providing analysis and commentary in an informal reading-room environment. Readings will feature works by Chris Burden, Carolina Caycedo, Cooley Windsor & Futurefarmers, and the Guerilla Art Action Group (GAAG), among others. In addition, this event will serve as a distribution point for free printed copies of the newspaper. Participants will be encouraged contribute to the event and participate in discussion on how to build an economically viable arts community in the Bay Area.

This event will take place from 7-9pm on Wednesday December 16th.
Sight School, 5651 San Pablo Ave, Oakland CA

Treating content like it’s free: Craft Publishing

There are more examples of this every day. I know we live in the “free economy” but I just don’t understand where that ends. Sometimes it is good to trade free content for exposure – it can be the best advertising choice that one can make. The problem lies when there is no end, when no one who is creating content gets paid.

My friend Lauren pointed this article on the problems with Craft Publishing out on her blog, and it has spurred an interesting conversation over on Make + Meaning.    On the other hand, today another editor extolls the virtues of free.  I think it’s so interesting to see how this discussion develops – I feel like our generation will figure out the different ways it can work for years to come. Or not – we’ll just have to see.

Southern Exposure 2009 Alternative Exposure Grant Recipients

Congratulations to all the awardees!  I hope all the projects conceived or energized by applying to this grant continue to follow through.  It always irks me that Southern Exposure doesn’t link to the projects right away so I did a bit of googling.  If anyone has any insight on unlinked projects, let me know!

The 2009 Alternative Exposure grant recipients are:

Adobe Books Backroom Gallery
Alula Editions (a project by TPG#11 artist Helena Keeffe and Amber Cady)
Art Practical
ArtXX Magazine
Chris Fitzpatrick & Post Brothers
Pueblo Nuevo Gallery
Stop & Go Rides Again
THE THING Quarterly
The Upper Left Ethnography Project

Nov. 27th is Plaid Friday: Support Independent Businesses!


In the spirit of the Holidays, we’ve decided to take part in Plaid Friday, an independent business alternative to the big box store “Black Friday.”   For this celebration of all things independent – we are offering a $15 dollar discount on this ONE DAY. So get your Holiday shopping done early or resubscribe for another year – but the time to buy is November 27th.  You can access this discount through our special page:

Organized by Blankspace Gallery and The Compound Gallery, Plaid Friday is designed to help raise awareness about shopping local and supporting the local economy. While Black Friday encourages monoculture, Plaid Friday celebrates the diversity and creativity of Bay Area independent businesses.  There are many East Bay Businesses taking part in this celebration, so to explore all the discounts and festivities, go here:

Happy Shopping!  Support Independent Businesses this Holiday Season.


Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era


Julia Bryan-Wilson, director of the Ph.D. program in visual studies at the University of California, Irvine, investigates in her new book the movement to create a new recognition of artists as workers and laborers in the 60′s and 70′s.   Their efforts created some change within the museum structure, yet it continues to be a struggle today, as seen with efforts of W.A.G.E. and our “State of the Arts” project led by Joseph del Pesco.

Julia Bryan-Wilson on

THE MORE INTERESTED I became in the legacies of the Art Workers’ Coalition and the New York Art Strike, the more I became concerned with how artistic labor registers––or doesn’t––within a wider field. It was both inspiring and somewhat vexing to consider how artists and critics attempted to organize as workers and label themselves as such, particularly during the Vietnam War, when debates about the value of artistic production were raging within culture and within protest politics. How does art work? This question challenged me and pushed the project forward.

…

Her book has been published by University of California Press and there will be a release party at Printed Matter in NYC on November 7th.

Art Subscriptions on the Rise

Know what I have been a little delinquent in doing?  Charting the growth of art subscriptions.  I’ve been doing it in my head, but now I’d like to finally share with you just what has been happening in the world of art via subscriptions.

1. Papirmasse

#5 May 09 Issue of Papirmasse
#5 May 2009 by Kirsten McCrea

“Papirmasse is a magazine, original art, and social experiment rolled into one.”  Papirmasse is a monthly edition that gets delivered quarterly.  It is a poster-sized double sided print folded to fit in a 9 x 12 envelope.  For the most part, one side is an image and the other is mostly black and white text.  The limited edition prints are numbered at 1000 and are signed by the artist.  It is a project created by Canadian artist and illustrator Kirsten McCrea.  She seems to create much of the content, though there are certainly many other artists involved. Somewhere between an edition and a periodical, this subscription only costs $60 per year which is pretty sweet.  As she puts it, Papirmase rallies under the slogan, “Art is for Everyone!”

2. Art in a Box


This monthly subscription run by Compound Gallery in Oakland is unique in a few ways.  First, it only uses local artists from the Bay Area – mostly from Oakland and San Francisco.  Second, the art that you get is original pieces, not editions.  I’m not sure exactly how it works, but the large group of artists that they use all produce a few pieces each month and then the whole lot gets divvied up, so each subscriber gets something different and unique each month.  Third, because not everyone is getting similar stuff, subscribers have the ability to state their preferred medium of artwork.   And lastly, one does not have to sign up for a full year at a time, they only require 3 month increments.  It is a higher pricepoint, however: $50 per month unless you want to pick it up at the gallery (then $30 per month).

This model could be a quick platform for artists to get a little exposure and probably get somewhere between $10- $20 (I’m guessing) per piece.  This may not be much, but it does encourage artists to have deadlines, try out new ideas and still get a little pocket change for it.  From the gallery’s perspective there is much less organizing, as they aren’t the one producing the projects.  Because it is very locally focused, I also like that they have “Pickup Parties” where people can get together, get their art, and probably meet the artists from time to time.  The art subscription model can be adapted to fit so many styles and configurations.  Some might classify the art that comes out of this subscription as verging on  “Dude/tte art”.

3. The Thing


I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about these guys.  We even traded subscriptions with them.  Ah well: THE THING Quarterly is a periodical in the form of an object. Each year, four artists, writers, musicians or filmmakers are invited by the editors (Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) to create an everyday object that somehow incorporates text.  They also sporadically produce other projects, some of which they send out to the subscribers as a bonus, and some of which they sell or give out to other people.

I really like how they invite a wide variety of creators to contribute projects, but my only criticism would be that the pieces come so out of context, that sometimes it is hard to figure out how they fit into the artists’ work as a whole.  Because one of the joys of art can be the connection with an artist’s ideas and perspective it would be great to get a little more insight into the creator’s general practice and trajectory of their work.  The limited scope of the project, everyday objects that somehow incorporate text, is an interesting parameter.  When we first started The Present Group, we would explain the project and get a lot of confused looks and bewilderment in general.  Now, we run across that much less often and I contribute a lot of that to The Thing.  Their success in the media has definitely helped to spread the idea of an art subscription and they have gotten a lot of people to start collecting and supporting artwork.

Save the Date: NYC Editions and Artists’ Books Fair


We’re going to be part of this Fair from November 6th through 8th.  It’s free and will be neat and fun so come and see us.  There will be lots of great exhibitors and there will be editions made on site and sold from Dim-Sum style rolling carts. Hurrah!

Open Call For TPG13 – Deadline 11/9/09

Our next review date for TPG13 is NOVEMBER 9th, 2009.

The Present Group, a quarterly art subscription service, seeks proposals from artists for projects that are reproducible in intent. We are looking for projects that will result in a limited edition, artist multiples, or a single work that consists of multiple parts. Every year TPG subscribers receive limited edition works from 4 different contemporary artists. A $500 honorarium is awarded to each season’s artist. Artists must submit a proposal to submit[at] or via USPS: The Present Group Attn: Submission 593 8th St. #3 Oakland, CA 94607.

For more information please visit:

To download full submission guidelines:

Perfect Sunday

It started with Pear Ginger Muffins and Julia Child’s Omeletts (we ate them too fast to take a picture)

Pear Ginger muffins


Yes. That is a pad of butter on my steaming muffin.  Layer your pleasures people.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Nigella’s Pear Ginger Muffin recipe:

-Preheat oven to 400.
-In a large bowl, mix 1 cup white flour, 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp of salt.
-In another bowl, mix 2/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbs honey (warm), and 2 large eggs. Fold into the dry ingredients.
-Fold in 1.5 cups peeled pears cut into 1/4 inch dice, 1/2 cup ground walnuts, 3 T minced crystallized ginger.
-Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle 2 tbs total brown sugar over tops of muffins and bake for 20 minutes.

*only comments would be that they still weren’t gingery enough for me – but that may be because my ground ginger was a little old, and I might try replacing the oil with something else – I don’t like the smell of oil in baked goods.

Then we used one of our Extended Freedom Days from City Car Share and drove to Point Reyes.


It always amazes us how rejuvenating hiking can be.  We get so stressed and cooped up right around the release of a piece and we could just feel that *junk* releasing as we walked and breathed actual fresh air.


This picture captures the calm.

Continue Reading »

Sounds like a good show: Domestic Disturbance

Opens Wednesday at the Worth Ryder Gallery at Berkeley* and curated by TPG 3 Critic Anuradha Vikram!  “Domestic Disturbance” brings together an intergenerational group of artists from across the United States whose work addresses the difficulties of balancing public and private life.


The parameters of work are changing rapidly in our time. The boundary between professional and personal time is no longer clear. Increasingly connected by ubiquitous technology, we are on the clock 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  For artists, these distinctions have long been blurred. Lived experience has been among the chief concerns of art in the late 20th century. This maxim of art-as-life takes on new dimensions when considered in light of the new telecommuter economy.

Each of the artists in Domestic Disturbance employs these strategies in a unique way, applying psychology, performance and humor to work that comments succinctly on the way we live today.

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE – October 7 – 31, 2009

Reception: Wednesday, October 7, 5-8 pm

Artists: Abigail Feldman, Emily McLeod, Kara Hearn, Sonya Rapoport, Desirée Holman, Stephanie Syjuco, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy

Worth Ryder Gallery
University of California, Berkeley
116 Kroeber Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 pm

Photo credit: Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, I’ll Replace You, 2008. Video. 16:40. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York.

*the gallery is also accepting curatorial proposals: Spring exhibit deadline is October 15th!

Next Up: Whitney Lynn

We’re proud to announce that the artist for TPG12 is Whitney Lynn!

Fort da 005, 2007

Whitney Lynn is a multi-media artist who explores the messy intersections between political, military, and civilian cultures. Her work has been exhibited at venues such as Exit Art, New York; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and the 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA. She is the recipient of travel grants from the College Art Association and the Southeastern College Art Conference and her work has received critical attention from a number of publications including The New York Times, Daily Serving and Style Weekly. Born on an Air Force Base in Williams, AZ, she received her BFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Whitney will be exihibiting as part of Southern Exposure’s “Bellwether” exhibition, their inaugural exhibition in their new space on 20th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.  From the website:

The artists in Bellwether engage in multi-layered speculative projections on our ever shifting and uncertain future. Whether by indulging in their hopeful fantasies or examining their trepidation, the artists provide unique and perhaps unconventional tools and methodologies for envisioning and navigating the unknown. Through anticipation and fear, excitement and anxiety, prediction and instruction, the projects in this exhibition begin to give form to the haziness that lies ahead.

Whitney’s project, Bug Out Location, is a sculptural installation that draws inspiration equally from survivalist subcultures and more left leaning do-it-yourself (DIY) movements.  She will also be hosting a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Survivalist Training Workshop, which will cover survivalist preparation strategies and sustainability techniques in anticipation of economic, environmental, social, and/or governmental collapse.


October 17, 2009 – December 12, 2009

Member’s Opening: Friday, October 16, 2009, 8:00 – 10:00 pm
Public Opening: Saturday, October 17, 2009, 4:00 – 10:00 pm

SoEx’s New Location:
3030 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

DIY Survivalist Training Workshop: November 21, 2009 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

That was fast…

TPG11 "Phases of the Moon" by Helena KeeffeTPG11 “Phases of the Moon” is officially sold out!  Thanks to everyone who spread the word and to our subscribers for making this project happen.  We make a limited number of back issues because we want each edition to reflect the size of the group at that time, so the only way to guarantee you won’t miss one is to subscribe.


Please use this space to comment on the project, the themes that this project addresses, and to contribute your point of view. We look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s what we’ve been thinking about and wrote to our subscribers:

One of the great things about the subscription art model is the shelter it provides for artists to try out new ways of working.  The piece you have just been delivered, “Phases of the Moon” by Helena Keeffe is a perfect example of this.  Helena is primarily a project based artist who works in the public sphere through grants and public commissions – she describes a few of her most recent projects in the interview.  But as a subscriber’s choice winner, you provided her with an opportunity to combine her interests in craft and object based works with her larger interest in creating subtle connections between people.  The result is a rare occasion to own a work by Helena and to experience her work on a more personal level.

Each lapel pin in the frame represents a phase of the moon and is meant to be worn in synch with the actual moon.  To help you keep track, we’ve created a few digital ‘widgets’ that display the current moon phase, its corresponding pin, and the orientation of the frame.  For Mac owners we’ve included a Dashboard widget on the interview CD.  But if you don’t have a Mac, don’t worry; we’ve also created a webpage for the widget, as well as one you can add to your Google homepage.  You can find those at:

The frame is designed to be rotated every full and new moon.  As the moon waxes towards a full moon, each day’s pin will move down the frame, like you would read a book.  On the day it becomes full (or new,) it’s time to rotate the frame 180 degrees.  We should also note that the pin in the corner, next to the full moon, represents a lunar eclipse.  You’ll only wear this one once in a blue moon (couldn’t resist,) as the next total lunar eclipse isn’t until Dec 21st, 2010.

Matthew Rana, in his review of the work, talks about how for him, the work created an altered sense of time, a new awareness of the moon itself and of the public/private discourse that is produced by the intimate act of affixing the pin to your clothes each morning.  For us, this project sparked a renewed interest in the solar system itself and the mechanics of the planets orbits. Your experience will surely be your own.

All the best,

Eleanor and Oliver

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Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months