Archive for 2012


What better way to celebrate 6 years of making art than to get that art into people’s hands at an extremely affordable (like out-of-control affordable) price?  If you have ever wanted to buy something from TPG but haven’t, or might want to start checking off your holiday list, the time is now.  From today until December 24th, our entire inventory is 20 – 80% off.  Some of these editions have very limited quantities available (like only 1 left of Steve Lambert’s I want you to have this,) so get your orders in fast if you want your choice!

Know when to fold em.

It is with a simultaneously heavy/proud/appreciative/relieved heart that we’re announcing the end of our little project, our subscription art service. With your help, over the past six years we’ve channelled over $34,000 into artist payments, critic stipends, and the production of new artwork. We’ve supported the creation of 21 artist projects (over 1400 individual art pieces) that may not have happened otherwise.

Six years ago, we were newlyweds with a dream, no business experience (or training for that matter), no connections, and no cred. Since then, we have learned an enormous amount, met and worked with some really wonderful people, and have no regrets. When we started there weren’t any active art subscriptions that we knew of. Now there are over 20. (In fact, we made a list! If you need an art subscription fix in our void, this is a good place to find the right one for you:

Over the years, The Present Group has changed its focus from solely an art subscription to a place for experimental projects focused on new ways to support artists and by extension cultural producers of all stripes. Over the past couple of years, our two major projects have shown quite a bit of promise. Art Micro Patronage gave people a chance to experience group shows of online artwork and donate to artists simultaneously. The Present Group Hosting has now given away $2324 to artists working in underfunded areas of the creative landscape.

We will continue this trend of being both a place for our own experimental systems and a place that helps to facilitate others’ experiments. We will continue making things, perhaps even create editions once in a while, and hope to begin collaborating more extensively with partners. We now know how to make a lot of things (like view master reels and transparent silk screened vinyl sticker sheets!) and hope to help others make things. We will continue to explore the area between art, activism, philanthropy, and commercial endeavors. If you have a project that may be a good fit for this type of collaboration, please get in touch.

Why are we stopping? We’ve never been able to pay ourselves, we work other jobs to keep it going, and after six years of burning the candle at both ends, the flame has started to flicker. We love this project and it has been hard to make this decision, but it is time to let it go. We’ve met many of you through the fairs, speaking engagements and shows we’ve been able to be a part of. Some of you have been with us since the very beginning or close to it and by that we’re extremely humbled. We would never have been able to accomplish any of this without all the people who placed their trust and faith in us.

At this time of Thanksgiving, we’re especially  thankful for the enormous generosity and community of people we have had the privilege of working with, amongst, and for. Whether you decided to try out art collecting on a whim, worked with us as an artist, writer, or vendor,  or helped spread word to your friends, co-workers, students, or family members, we’re enormously grateful for every one of you.


Oliver and Eleanor

P.S.  We’re celebrating this end and 6 year anniversary with a giant sale!  Check out our back issues for savings of up to 20 – 80% off. 

Annotated Links for TPG 21

Christine’s Links:


Elaine Fox’s Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain (2012)


A cognitive psychologist looks at optimism and pessimism.


This is an enjoyable new mass-market book revealing the neurological centers of approach and avoidance instincts. Fox’s voice is a welcome addition to my understanding of the field of positive psychology. After just the first chapter, I recast my personal setbacks in running with a more positive perspective on my progress. Just as pleasure is fleeting, my ability to stay optimistic can waver over time. Books such as this are like nutrients that remind me to activate the skills of optimism.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick Emery Robinson’s The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter (1990)

This book may be purchased at
In 1985, the Getty commissioned a pair of researchers to conduct a study on the nature of the aesthetic experience, with a focus on finding correlations with flow, or optimal experience. The methods and findings are detailed in this out-of-print, academically-written book. Artists and curators will find some of the results basic, however, the rigor with which the researchers parsed the dimensions of aesthetic experience helped clarify my understanding of how art objects function, what viewers must bring to aesthetic experiences, and how viewers shape their experiences with artworks.




Constructing personal devil and angel archetypes

Actor Henry Winkler Plays “Not My Job,” and “Fabulous” New Yorkers

I was tired and lost on the Van Wyck Expressway when I heard a seven-minute interview with Henry Winkler that snapped me outside of my miserable, inward perspective. Winkler seems irrepressibly happy, with no complaints or regrets. The interview reminded me that you find what you look for in daily life, whether conflicts or beauty, complaints or humor.

I have been thinking a lot about how being in New York is changing me for the better and worse, illustrated by extreme New Yorker archetypes. The first is the stereotypical obnoxious, complaining, defensive New Yorker. (This is mostly caricature, though the city’s density can breed impatience for social niceties.) The other archetype is the one that Winkler seems to exemplify: the live-and-let-live New Yorker, who is constantly finding things “fabulous” and appreciates life in all its manifestations. Winkler would make a great happiness role model.



Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

GGSC’s blog features short, practical articles written by positive psychologists. The advice for improving subjective well-being is straightforward and, crucially, rooted in empirical studies (unlike self-help). Recommended for those with interest in‚ but not much time for‚ applying positive psychology in their lives.



Simon and Tom Bloor


Fraternal artists based in Birmingham and London, UK.

The Bloors make drawings, paintings, wall texts, sculptures, and public projects around play, public space, and modernist forms. Their latest projects, including schoolyard commissions, attempt to inspire informal interactions. I find that their works balance a cheery, earnest tone with formal and typographic sophistication and an open-endedness that invites intellectual engagement.



Michael Jones McKean’s The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms


Ambitious site-specific weather project at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE




McMaster-Carr’s website


I wish every website I use for procurement was as clean, informative, and easy to navigate as this.

The speed and ease of the virtual world can create false expectations, making manipulating the material world seem frustrating and slow. McMaster-Carr’s site provides generous access to material information, dimensions, and technical illustrations, exemplifying how material problem-solving can be facilitated with elegantly-dense interaction design.




Hida Tool

Though I use common materials in my work, I love fine tools. One of the great tragedies of our generation is the rarity of our encounters with objects that will last a lifetime, and further, specialists with wells of knowledge and enthusiasm for particular materials or tools. Hida is one such loci of connoisseurship. Based in Berkeley, this mom-and-pop shop sells Japanese hand tools, specializing in kitchen knives, gardening implements, and woodworking tools. I purchased wood-carving gouges from Hida 15 years ago, and they are holding up promisingly well. Hida’s specialness was recently brought to the fore again, when I decided to buy a Japanese saw, and could find no suitable counterpart in New York City.



TPG’s Links:


Christine’s work is influenced by the field of Positive Psychology.

This is a field concerned with why minds function well rather than the opposite… A brief primer can be found

courtesy of Wikipedia.



Thrive! – The Living Well Show

Online radio webcasting about positive psychology.



Flow, the Secret to Happiness

Christine references the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this TED talk he discusses the creative ‘flow’ state.

How That Sausage of Happiness Is Made

Stefan Sagmeister is another artist who investigates notions of happiness. This article describes a recent show of his and an upcoming movie project. Both are concerned with what constitutes happiness and how it may be achieved.











The Sparkle Effect by Sarah Hotchkiss

Do you have a happiness role model? Think about this question. Do you actively pursue happiness in a systematic way such that you have identified someone who appears to lead an optimistic lifestyle you aspire towards? Christine Wong Yap has. Ask Christine for her happiness role models and you will receive an instant reply: Henry Winkler and Maira Kalman. You may remember Winkler from his decade-long role as “The Fonz” on Happy Days. Maira Kalman is the prolific illustrator and author of such books as The Principles of Uncertainty and The Pursuit of Happiness. And yes, they both have affiliations with the word ‘happy.’

Happiness, that often-unattainable life goal, is one of Christine’s central artistic concerns. Her artworks address optimism, pessimism, the pleasures of mundane materials, and transparency of the creative process. For the Present Group’s Issue #21, she created an extra-large sticker sheet: a screen print on cut holographic vinyl. The mirrored images are a festoon, a conglomeration of ten blank ribbon banners resembling packaging flourishes or “I ♥ MOM” tattoos. Underneath black and transparent cyan ink, the fractured reflective surface is dynamic and transfixing.  To achieve maximum sparkly effect, either it or you must move. This is highly recommended.

When I was a child, I had a fairly substantial sticker collection. They were modest, solid colored stickers of the farm animal, flower, balloon, and heart variety. I periodically sifted through the full to semi-full sheets, checking my inventory, hoarding the tiny adhesive symbols. I deferred gratification indefinitely. No art project or birthday card was ever good enough for a sticker from my collection. The thought of sharing them or using them never crossed my mind.

Two decades later, faced with Christine’s Present Group piece Ten Banners for Home and Office, I have a very different impulse. I want to peel the banners from their paper backing and stick them everywhere. I want to use them as labels, pronouncements, and notices. I want them on notebooks, newspaper boxes, and a card to my best friend. I realize now any sense of loss I might feel from the initial removal of a sticker from my possession will be more than countered by the cheer it will eventually bring both me and others. Instead of preserving the sticker sheet as a whole, I want to test the sticker’s ability to dazzle me for days on end. My six-year-old self wouldn’t understand, but Christine’s stickers lead me to understand something of myself and her practice simultaneously: distributing good and cheerful things into the world begets real and lasting pleasure. Happiness comes from sharing ideas and resources, forging new connections within a community of one’s own making. If Christine’s stickers are a present, in my hands they yearn to be re-gifted.

If all this sounds a bit sappy, I blame the effects of holographic vinyl on my brain.

Christine’s work fosters this elevated mood—in everything from her Positive Signs series to ribbon texts, from Flag Snowflakes to mixed media installations. She encourages the viewer not only to be happier, but to question the conditions of that happiness. She is drawn to innocent declarative modes: gel pens on graph paper, hand-sewn banners, cheery office supplies, dollar store finds, and general “knickknackery.” Too often, she argues, cheap disposable materials are seen as depressing. Making this connection allows pessimism to be more commonplace than it needs to be and, in turn, undermines the very real pleasure that can be extracted from brightly-colored plastic objects.

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Sign #19 (When to Use Optimism), 2011, glitter pen with foil print on gridded vellum, 8.5 x 11 in

Much of Christine’s approach to art making is based on her extensive research into the realm of positive psychology. Put forth by its main figures Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, positive psychology is meant to supplement traditional psychology, not replace it. Instead of treating just mental illness, Sligman and Csikszentmihalyi propose, what if we attempt to make ordinary lives more fulfilling? Immersing herself in the literature of the movement (accumulating titles such as The Happiness Hypothesis, Born to Be Good, Flow, and Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain) Christine has latched onto a particular symbolic language of her own. This is most evident in Positive Signs, a series of glitter and fluorescent pen drawings on gridded vellum. In these, she uses the structure of info graphics to explain complex principles of positive psychology to a general audience.

For Positive Signs Christine embodies the role of the cheerleader, the explicator, and the friend, offering up lessons such as this one from Seligman: “Life inflicts the same setbacks and tragedies on the optimist and the pessimist, but the optimist weathers them better.” Moving beyond Zen-like statements into the actual visualization of these principles, Christine tests the limits of info graphics to clearly relay data. Do they explicate or further confuse? She admits to being deeply interested in futility of her attempts to pin down happiness, chart its existence, and explain the tactics for increasing its probability. Reading Positive Signs en masse, I find myself invigorated and justified in my own artistic pursuits. The graphs and charts give shape to the intangible subjects with which many people—not just creative types—wrestle, supplying tools for how we can shape and facilitate positive thinking. Positive Signs are guidelines for promoting happiness in our own lives.

 Christine Wong Yap, hopexpectation, 2011, 101 x 18 x 1 in

At one level, Christine’s work functions as a barometer of sorts—you are either gladdened or repelled by the fluorescent hues, flowing banners, starburst patterns, and multitudinous kittens. But beyond this surface treatment, she addresses a number of curious aesthetic assumptions with regard to class, economics, and the function of art objects in general. In Christine’s hands, previously disposable materials become art objects that exist indefinitely, their ability to bestow a dose of happiness prolonged and potentially magnified. There is no shame, Christine believes, in the decorative impulse. High or low, cheap or expensive, the results of that impulse rest on your ability to analyze and promote the conditions for happiness in your own life.

Ten Banners for Home and Office provides you with a choice. Use it as you would any sheet of decorative stickers: plaster it about town. Preserve it as a fine art object, intact and on display. How is it meant to be treated? Ask yourself which will make you happier. Then you have your answer.

As the Fonz would say, “Exactamundo.”



Sarah Hotchkiss is an artist and arts writer living in San Francisco. She contributes regularly to the KQED Arts blog and Art Practical. She received an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts and a B.A. in English Literature from Brown University. In 2011 she was the recipient of an Alternative Exposure grant for the curatorial project Stairwell’s. Her artwork has been shown in the greater New York and San Francisco areas, including Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, ATA Window Gallery, and MacArthur B Arthur. Past residencies include the Vermont Studio Center, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and Esalen Institute.


Interview with Christine Wong Yap

icon for podpress  Interview with Christine Wong Yap [31:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Introduction to Ten Banners for Home and Office

By artist Christine Wong Yap, Ten Banners for Home and Office is an edition of 50 three color silk-screened holographic glitter vinyl posters with 8 peel off stickers.  This super-sized sticker sheet reminds us that everyday there is something worthy of a little recognition and exaltation.  Whether or not you actually fill in the blank stickers or ever remove them from their backing sheet, they act as both an invitation and a challenge to focus on the good parts of everyday.

Christine Wong Yap is an interdisciplinary artist working in installations, sculptures, multiples, and works on paper to explore optimism and pessimism. Her work examines the paradox that mundane materials or situations can give rise to irrational expectations, emotions, and experiences. Major touchstones are language, light and dark, and psychology. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in New York, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, London, Newcastle, and Manchester (U.K). Born in California, Yap holds a BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts. A longtime resident of Oakland, CA, she relocated to New York, NY in 2010.

Show Me the Money: a new series on SFMOMA’s blog

For quite some time, Oliver and I have been talking about a project we’ve been calling Show Me the Money.  Sometimes our projects take a lot of time living in the back of our heads before they become a reality.  Years ago, we were thinking that it would be great to diagram out how the money works for different types of organizations, businesses, and artists in the art world just so we could simply see it.   But that didn’t happen, or hasn’t happened yet.

At the beginning of this year, we started thinking critically about The Present Group and how it could change and adapt so that we could become more stable (more on that later).  During this time, I started thinking again about Show Me the Money and how I wished I had already done it, how it seems so necessary, how I can’t believe someone else hasn’t done it. So I went ahead and emailed one of my favorite Bay Area platforms for conversation, the SFMOMA blog, to see if they were interested in the idea. Turns out, they were.

So today, I’ve posted a little introduction to the project as a whole.  I’m really excited and slightly nervous about it all, but I am really looking forward to it.  With a little bit of optimism and hope, I’m about embark on asking people to talk about a subject that almost everyone avoids: money.

Here’s a snippet:

The visual arts, as a discipline, is sometimes seen as a place where one can and should freely explore and produce independently of the market. It is with this optimism and drive to work without financial reward that so many people pursue the creation of their own organizational structures. This freedom can be a fertile and productive place from which to practice, but it comes with a price of perception and expectation: creative work is generally under-compensated (because you were going to do it anyway), general operating costs are ignored in funding proposals, installations are installed without fees, and exposure is offered as payment all throughout the chain.

..There is a prevalent belief in our country that if you work hard enough you’ll be able to “make it.” If you do something good long enough, people will notice. But as any artist, small businessperson, or organization head will tell you, this just isn’t true.

read more on Open Space.

We want to help you get your portfolio website up.

So we’ve decided to team up with Southern Exposure in order to teach a class on how to do just that.  Sign up – space is limited.

You can read all about it here. 

Headlands Center for the Arts 30th Birthday Caravanniversary Festival and Sale this Saturday

This Saturday, September 15th, join us in celebrating Headlands‘ major accomplishment: 30 years of supporting art and artists.  It’s going to be fun.  This one day, family-friendly, artist-driven festival in the Fort Barry Parade Ground of the Marin Headlands will feature an array of artist projects, games, musical entertainment, bike & surf activities, artist-led hikes, hands-on projects, and local artisan vendor booths for the delight of party-goers of all ages.

This week we’ll be finally sending out TPG21 and will be using this opportunity not only to sell our backissues in a TPG Pop-Up Shop, but also to have a little release party of sorts, with a activity led from afar by artist Christine Wong Yap.  We’ll be encouraging fair goers to take a moment to Celebrate Something in sparkles.

Over a dozen artists have been commissioned to present interactive contraptions, custom-designed pods, and games at the party. Curl up inside one of Suzanne Husky‘s “Sleeper Cells;” use plant-dye to design a custom handkerchief with TPG 11 artist Helena Keeffe; make a mini-succulent garden with Sausalito’s The Low Tide Club; and peruse original artist prints and multiples for sale by Park Life and The Present Group. Enjoy music, dancing, and tasty treats.

Boom. by Packard Jennings is winner of The Present Prize: Net Love!

The Hostees have spoken!  51 contributions made up a $1224 Prize for one artist whose work exists on the internet.  204 public voters narrowed down the field of 14 nominated works to three, and now the choice has been made.

We’re going to celebrate with Packard next Thursday September 6th and hand over a big check in Lake Merritt park for a lovely evening happy hour from 5-6:30 pm.  You should join us. We’ll be here.

Congratulations to Packard Jennings for! is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

Destructables was developed with a few basic ideas in mind:

Dissent is necessary for a healthy society.

Public space is politicized.

Resistance and protest needs constant re-invention.


The Present Prize Finalists

Thanks to 204 voters who cast a grand total of 3,152 votes, public voting for the Present Prize is complete!  We’d like to congratulate our three finalists: Maria Molteni, Packard Jennings, and collaborators Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate.

It was a very close race and other competitors were not far behind.

About half of people coming to the site voted just once, indicating a direct link from that artist’s social network. However, the second highest percentage of people (ten percent,) took the opportunity to vote on all 91 matchups, making their opinion heard in much greater force. Of the remaining 40%, people seemed to tire out of voting all across the gamut.  While the direct links certainly had an impact on the final results, as soon as people voted more than once, they contributed to a scenario where the effect of internet popularity was diluted.

Here are the the three finalists again.  It’s interesting to note that each of these winning works engage a larger community as contributors to their projects.

Cloaque by Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate

“Cloaque works as a digital landfill. It is the result of the collection, treatment and joining together of a series of images found online or self produced work, to create a column of digital compost. It is a collaborative project hosted on a tumblr platform where artists are invited to continue the previous work developing an endless vertical collage.”

Claudia Maté is a spanish web developer working on a large area of online based projects. She experiments with different programation languages and 3D softwares, using platforms as Tumblr and exploring new posibilities with HTML5.

Carlos Saez is a multidisciplinary artist. He has been working in fashion, creating his own brand. Also with video through his  audiovisual project Multi-Movies  and lately as creative director of Room Mate Hotels.



New Craft Artists in Action by Maria Molteni

“The NCAA team captain launched MOLTENi Net Works in response to cases of Empty Net Syndrome in Boston. This yarn-bomb initiative, executed via workshops, pickup games & internet cataloging, aims to create functional, hand-crafted basketball nets for neglected public hoops. Inspired by a mapping process and DIY form of slow production, we make use of neglected courts & the internet as public venues across the globe. The project aims to build pro-active relationships between artists, athletes, & neighbors, tracing connections between such networks via hoop coordinates logged on our public gmap. When it comes to love for the NET, NCAA assumes Triple Threat.”


Maria Molteni grew up in Nashville, TN, a misfit in the bible belt where differences are settled on the court. Swallowed by team jerseys for 10 years, she swore to become an “Art & Basketball Star”. Her neighbors expressed their support via MOLTEN brand basketballs with bold i ’s scribbled on the end. This anecdote illustrates concepts & processes of Maria’s current practice, approaching art as the reassessment of authorship via appropriation/technology & expression of support/protest by DIY craft. by Packard Jennings is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

Packard Jennings is a visual artist who uses appropriation, humor and interventionist tactics to address political and corporate transgressions against public interests. A native of Oakland, California, he received his MFA from Alfred University in New York. He has garnered critical attention across a variety of media, including: Artforum, Playboy, Flash Art, the Believer, New American Painting, the Washington Post, and the front page of the New York Times. 

Now it is up to our grant contributors to pick a final winner!  If you are a TPG web hostee or a buy-in contributor, go here to cast your final vote.

Another Art Subscription: Regional Relationships

From the good people at Temporary Services and Half Letter Press, a commissioning/art subscription program.  I’m a little confused about whether this is ongoing or if there are only these two artists: Matthew Friday & Claire Pentecost, but either way it seems like an interesting series:

Regional Relationships commissions artists, scholars, writers and activists to create works that investigate the natural, industrial and cultural landscapes of a region. It is a platform to re-imagine the spaces and cultural histories around us. An invitation to join in seeing what we can learn—and learning what we can see—by juxtaposing spaces and narratives that are usually kept apart.

The New Guy


I am Matt, the new Present Group intern. This year I came to realize that the place I live (Maine) is quite nice, and if I were to spend too many more summers in place, I would wake up one day and find myself retired there. So I set out on a search for new places and ways. I did my share of asking around; I queried friends, enemies, frienemies and a gaggle of left handed mittens that had been abandoned in the gutter. I came across many good suggestions (the mittens of course suggested Ottawa) but could not make a decision.

At a loss, I had resigned myself to do things the old fashioned way: chance. Now chance is generally not something to mess with so I wanted to make sure I did it right. I figured that the combination of a spinning classroom globe, a throwing dart and a bottle of whiskey ought to yield a significantly indeterminate location.

On my way to the whole spinning globe/spinning room conundrum I was however blessedly interrupted. It was not by a person or animal, rather the interruption came in the form of a clean looking wooden box. In bright friendly letters it said very plainly, “I want you to have this”  It was very clearly a gift, for me! After a little research I realized I had found issue 17 of The Present Group’s art subscription (I Want You to Have This). Several emails later I had an internship in Oakland.

I have been interested in social entrepreneurship for some time and I am happy to start work here at Present Group HQ. We’ve got the wholesomeness of community supported agriculture without excesses in the kale department. Plus mail always felt kind of like a present to me, so to work for a place that sends presents through the mail…

I am told we will begin today by cutting sparkles.


Congratulations to The Present Prize: Net Love Nominees

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be getting some additional information from these artists and building a platform for the public voting phase. In the meantime, get to know the projects!

We Who Feel Differently by Carlos Motta

Supercruft and Live Disasters by Andrew Venell

NSKYC by Mike Bodge by Andrey Yazev

Cultural Differences by Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz  (declined to participate)

Cloaque founded by Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate

Open_Close.txt and The Internet Makes Me Happy by Emilio Gomariz by Packard Jennings

C RED BLUE J by Chris Sollars

HD Jellyfish Footage by Julian Dawe (declined to participate)

Peter Hasson: Praying Ping Pong by Jesse Nichols by Anthony Antonellis

Molteni Net Works by Maria Molteni and the New Craft Artists in Action

Sanctuary by Aaron Vincent Elkaim


Get excited: Studio view for Christine Wong Yap’s work in progress

Up Next: Christine Wong Yap

We’re very pleased to announce that the artist for TPG #21 is Christine Wong Yap.

Christine Wong Yap is an interdisciplinary artist working in installations, sculptures, multiples, and works on paper to explore optimism and pessimism. Her work examines the paradox that mundane materials or situations can give rise to irrational expectations, emotions, and experiences. Major touchstones are language, light and dark, and psychology. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in New York, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, London, Newcastle, and Manchester (U.K). Born in California, Yap holds a BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts. A longtime resident of Oakland, CA, she relocated to New York, NY in 2010.

I went to two of the SF art fairs. This is what I liked.

There is something gross about art fairs.  The wealth, the striped down-ness of the presentation of the works, the way that art becomes less about ideas and more about what someone wants to put on their walls.  But there is also something really great.  This year it hasn’t been the easiest for me to get out and wander galleries, go to openings that happen at baby bedtimes, and see much art, period.  So really, getting to see hundreds of artists’ works all at once, during the day, was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.  I’m sure that I missed some things, but nevertheless here are my highlights:

Oh my goodness.  The scene at ArtPadSF was a hipster summer dream. Bands, neon colors, beers and coolness abounded.

Misako_Inaoka at Johannson Projects

Noelle Mason at Thomas Robertello Gallery 
HKG-ORD (mule), 2007
That’s an ivory budda that she smuggled in to the US from Hong Kong in her vagina.

Kerry Vander Meer at Mercury 20

best bathroom art that I saw.  It seemed like there was something interesting happening in the Creativity Explored bathroom, but it was too darn crowded that I couldn’t get in.

Peter Opheim at Steven Zevitas Gallery
Untitled (155)


The artMRKT was much more art fair-y.  My main gripe was it seemed like it was largely overhung.  It was somewhat commonplace to see galleries trying to get a lot of bang for their buck, showing 6-8 artists at a time. While I have to admit that I was a speed-fairing since there was a baby on my belly, I wanted less artists and more from each.  Also, there was a (Ever-Gold) gallery-sponsored and fair-approved “Occupy Art Fairs” thing going on that seemed, well, a little trite.

Elisheva Biernoff at Eli Ridgeway

castaneda/reiman at DCKT Contemporary
Their installation at the SF Fine Art Fair two years ago has really stuck with me. Every time I see their work I like it more.


Cara Barer at Andrea Schwartz Gallery
Sheer Madness


Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet at Catherine Clarke Gallery
Map of the Known World, 2011
There was no way to get a good picture of this.  Birk has an image on his website.  I’m a sucker for maps.  I like how their work makes evident what is hidden on most maps: that the person drawing it is giving you their view of the world.






Annotated Links for TPG20: A different kind of warmth

Julia’s Links:

Dard Hunter collection: Dard Hunter was responsible for a renaissance in hand papermaking and printing. From 1923 to 1950, his Mountain Home Press produced eight limited-edition books that stand as testaments to his devotion and perseverance. Today, most of the historians and artisans interested in papermaking and printing were directly inspired by Hunter.

Dieu Donne: a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of new contemporary art utilizing the hand papermaking process.  I did a residency here.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds : Seed bank…where i get the seeds for the beet i grew…I didn’t grow nearly all of them…but some

Paper Project Scanning Electron Microscope Images of Paper: I love these magnified images…I used some in a talk I gave last week to show the difference between paper and papyrus

and…Oregon Caves National Monument

and Lava Beds National Monument



Other Links:

Examples of other types of fruit and vegetable papyrus

Artists working with food/food concepts/growing things:

Open Restaurant: OPENrestaurant is the project of a collective of restaurant professionals who moved their environment to an art space as a way to experiment with the language of their daily activities. This displacement turns the restaurant, its codes and architecture, into a medium for artistic expression which is made available to cooks, farmers, artists, educators and activists as a way to explore issues around food and society.

Pietopia:  This is a once a year event where participants submit any pie recipe and 300 word written explanation about how your life tastes, in a pie. The entries go through a judging process of nationally recognized food writers and bakers. Over the course of several weeks, pies are judged upon the creativity and innovation in ideas reflecting the ingredients used in the recipe by a group of nationally recognized food-writers and chefs. run by Tricia Martin, eating is art

Conflict Kitchen: a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. The food is served out of a take-out-style storefront that rotates identities every six months to highlight another country.  Each iteration of the project is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country.

Artists working with paper:


Jen Stark


Lori B. Goodman


Displaying Beet Papyrus

There are many ways one could display the beet papyrus, but we’ll go over a few of them here:

1. The first option is one that Julia designed herself:

“I don’t want the material behind glass all the time.  I want you to be able to experience that material without anything between you and it…. I’ve constructed this wood system so that the glass is off the wall by about an inch and a half.  And that allows the beet papyrus to cast a shadow on the wall and it also allows light to come from behind.  So that’s kindof the idea: room for shadow, no material or frame between you and the surface, and some natural back-lighting as well.” 

We’ve custom built these to Julia’s specs and made them available to purchase through TPG.  Go here if you’d like to find out more>>

Advantages: somewhat protected, illuminated from behind by reflection off the wall, ability to look closely at the texture, indirect light, ideal viewing platform designed by the artist
Disadvantages: not really protected from the air, environmental factors, or light

2. A cheaper alternative would be to use 4 1/4″ magnets on a window or wall.  The most important thing to note here is that it is not ok to use magnets without a buffer between the magnet and the beet papyrus. An easy way to solve this is to buy some adhesive backed felt dots and stick it to the magnets. If you don’t do this, the magnets will make a hole through the beet papyrus.

Tape the first set of magnets to the window, adhere the felt buffer to both the taped surface of the magnets on the window and to one side of the other magnets.  Place the papyrus, and then position the other set of magnets on top.


Advantages: affordable, easy to do, window illumination
Disadvantages: light may damage the papyrus, no protection, not a long-term solution, depending on tape used

3. Professionally framed: float mounted on archival board, with substantial spacer

Advantages: protected from environment and light, easy to hang
Disadvantages: no illumination from behind


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