Archive for 2015

The Present Prize #4: Family Matters

“For those who have defied the advice of mentors and gallerists by deciding to raise children while also pursuing an artistic practice, it can be hard to know how to proceed. While many well-known artists have managed to be engaged parents while pursing successful careers, mention of this creative balancing act is largely absent from critical discourse, and so we find ourselves reinventing the wheel again and again.”

-Christa Donner, Cultural ReProducers (Half Letter Press, 2014)

Over the past 4 years, since our girls were born, Oliver and I have become more and more aware of the challenges and struggles parents go through in balancing a creative practice and raising children. Remember when you were a teenager and full of angst and relationships were just hard sometimes?  When life’s big questions felt like they needed an answer, now?  When you were struggling to find out who you were and how you were going to find your place in the world? I’ve found that becoming a parent is sort of like that: challenging emotionally, full of identity crises, and a process that involves a re-alignment of your priorities and world view.

That’s not to say it’s all bad – in fact, if we stick with the high school metaphor, think of all the strong memories you have from those short 4 years and compare that number to any previous set of 4 years.  All that change, those struggles, those questions of identity that challenge us can make space for beautiful new things to happen, for a new open-ness to experiences, and for spaces of awe and wonder.

I don’t know if it’s really harder for parents pursuing a creative practice, but I do know that it’s hard.  Artists are  great at scrimping for money generally, but sometimes being responsible for a helpless little thing makes many of us less willing to scrape the bottom. While we’ve toted along our children to many art events, sometimes inappropriately, it’s pretty much unacceptable to participate in a lecture with kids in tow.  While we’ve never been great at getting out, you might say that our social capital has decreased in the past years.  Many opportunities and residencies are off limits. Even ones with good intentions don’t always work out.  The Bemis Center announced a residency for artist-parents this past November only to have to pull the program when it became clear they hadn’t fully figured out all the childcare logistics.  Time changes as you work around naptimes, more rigid mealtimes, and meltdowns. Getting from bed to door in the morning can no longer be a 15 minute endeavor.

Too many artistic lives are built for single, childless, workaholic 23-year-olds. That can’t last. Raising children forces us to change, and that is good in the long run for us and for our field. It’s true that I could no longer write grants at midnight when I had a kid. But thank god I stopped writing grants at midnight, right? – Andrew Simonet, Artists Raising Kids

The adjustment that happens after having kids happens to everyone who has kids.  You know it will happen, but it’s still surprising when it does. But sometimes it forces us to face things that were not working.  We stopped taking jobs – either self-assigned or asked for by others – that didn’t pay or didn’t have at least some small stipend or grant attached to it. It forced us to professionalize in that way. I used to be a floral designer.  Now I rarely take a job because the cost of childcare is the same as what I would bring in. Instead I do web design more professionally now, where I can work less for more money.

I’m pregnant again and am looking forward to and dreading the phase that will come this fall, so this topic is close to my mind.  But before that happens, Oliver and I want to announce our call for nominations for the next Present Prize – to be given to someone balancing a creative practice and parenthood.  The money we give away might be enough for a month of daycare, for some on-demand childcare, or for whatever else the parent in question needs. Let’s reward someone for making the time, for playing the long game, for proving it can be done, for taking a break or taking it slow for a while, for being selfish while at the same time giving all of themselves, and for setting the example for their kids that balance is possible – you just have to work at it. Because in the end, family matters.

If you are a current web hosting client, nominate up to three parents pursuing a creative practice.  Include their name and some sort of contact info (preferably email). Email your nominations here.

If you think this is a good idea and want to both contribute to the prize and nominate some people, go here to Buy in.


Additional Resources for Parents:

Cultural ReProducers - an evolving group of active cultural workers who are also parents – has compiled a great list of Resources for parent cultural workers  that includes grants, publications, and parent friendly residency programs.


No Justice, No Service!

Join local artists, educators, unions, activists and workers to celebrate the recent excitement and organizing success of Adjuncts at SFAI, CCA, St. Mary’s College, Mills, Dominican University!

Performances! Installations! Speak-outs! Readings! Food! Art! Books! Socializing! Community-building! Help cultivate a cultural front for ongoing activism in arts, education, work and life.

We’ll be there begging people to fill out surveys for Compensation Foundation and trying to show some stats through live action visualizations. We’ll see how that goes. :)

Sunday, March 8 at 3:00pm
2948 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Participating artists, adjuncts, workers, groups, organizers, cooks, beer-makers and people include:
MC: Irina Contreras
Cara Emily Levine
Danielle Wright
Carrie Hott
Congratulations Pine Tree Podcast (Kate Rhoades, Maysoun Wazwaz)
Jessica Tully
Jessica Lawless
Christian Schoff-Nagler
Jennie Smith-Camejo
David Buuck
Stephanie Young
Ann Schnake
Compensation Foundation 
SEIU Local 1021
Give Me Cred!
Peak Agency
La Pocha Nostra
Kristi Holohan
Lauren C Elder
Amanda Jane Eicher
Chelsea Wills
Catherine Powell & The Labor Archive
Bay Area Strike Debt
Debt Collective
Fight For Fifteen
Chris Higgenbotham
Adjunct activist’s agit-prop from around the country
Keith Hennessy
Mess Editions
Words of Resistance
Critical Resistance
Modern Times Bookstore Collective
Joe Berry
Helena Harlow Worthen
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo
Grace Chen
Zach Ozma
Adjunct Action Bay Area
Amy Rathbone
Francisco Grajales
Leslie Dreyer
SFAI Poster Syndicate
Shaping SF

Gifotrope – take control of your gifs

In the latest edition of “little things that we make for other people to use (but probably no one will,)” we’re proud to announce Gifotrope.  Gifotrope is a bit of code that helps you take control of gifs by breaking them up into little pieces that only animate when a user is scrolling.  You can’t read well while you’re scrolling, so something else interesting visually could and probably should be happening during those times.

TPG on Congratulations Pine Tree

Maysoun Wazwaz and Kate Rhoades are making a podcast- Congratulations Pine Tree – it’s the #1 Arts and Culture podcast in the Bay Area.

They are very fun to talk to and to listen to, and I’m excited that I can have them in my life more through my ears.

We’re on the podcast briefly this week talking about Compensation Foundation and the Present Prize.

Go here!

Open Call for Potluckers!

It’s not always true that if you build it, they will come. We get it. Surveys aren’t always so fun to fill out. But maybe if we come together in small groups, share food and drinks, and commiserate it will be a little more fun. That’s why we are asking you, individually or in groups, to host a potluck for your visual artist friends ideally in the first weekend of February and fill out Compensation Foundation’s “Bay Area Artists Report!” and anonymously contribute your experiences towards a better infrastructure for self-advocacy for artists.

The “Bay Area Artists Report!” is an effort to gather and make apparent how visual artists working in the Bay Area are compensated, what they value most, and what hurdles they face.  It’s the time of year for digging through old receipts and bank statements to appease the IRS, so what better time to put that effort to use for a common cause?

Artists and organizations across the globe (W.A.G.E., Visual Artists Ireland, CARFAC, Brooklyn Commune) are advocating for transparency and the establishment of standards when it comes to compensating artists for their labor. Our hope is that by contributing to a clearer picture of what’s happening here and now, we can help pave the way for a shift in cultural values and expectations.

We are working on securing beer and/or wine donations for fun. If you would prefer not to host something in your house, we can pair you up with one of several Bay Area organizations that have offered up their space. Please let us know if you plan something so we can track our progress and make sure to get you what you need!


Thank you!

Eleanor, Helena, Oliver

P.S. In an ideal world, these potlucks will occur in the first weekend in February, but anytime in the next couple of months would also be great.

Web hosting that supports artists.


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