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.

Living excited

I just uploaded some photos and started perusing back a bit.  This photo is of my nephew, Andrew, celebrating the most amazing sandwich that he has just made.  Know what’s in the sandwich?

graham crackers, american cheese, farm animal shaped colored sprinkles, and hershey’s chocolate. I mean, you have to agree that it is a pretty amazing sandwich.

I want to be this excited about everything.


Southern Exposure Alternative Exposure Round 3!

Sometimes the newest and the most experimental art gets created or exposed through the newest and most experimental organizations, galleries, or alternative arts programs.    Yet, lots of times these really experimental projects and spaces only last a short time because people are doing it out of love, they are pouring their own money and time into it, and are taking a chance to try something new.  Southern Exposure recognizes this.  That’s why they have developed a new funding program for these spaces, organizations, and projects that foster great work.  Their Alternative Exposure Grant has funded and helped out some of the Bay Area’s most prominent alternative spaces and projects (including yours truly).  Though certainly not enough money to create a strong foothold financially, it is enough to allow these spaces to breath a little easier for a short time.  And that, sometimes, is enough to keep them going.  It’s also a vote of confidence that we all sometimes need when we’re feeling down.

So as our year as Southern Exposure Grantees comes to a close, I would like to encourage all those with spaces, projects and programs that are new and exciting (or old and exciting) – that show, foster, and encourage the creation of art in the Bay Area – to apply, and to apply again if you don’t (or didn’t) get it the first go round.

Here are the details.

There is also an information session that is useful at Receiver Gallery:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Receiver Gallery
1415 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110


I tried to think of what noise a flower would make if it made a noise.   These two are on my windowsill and last for such a short period of time that I thought I would share.



Scott Oliver’s “Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After”

Our friend and critic for TPG5, Scott Oliver is leading a collaborative artist and community project here in Oakland.  In these times when funding models for the arts are changing, he is reaching far and wide for small donations that will be matched by a larger organization. Here’s another example of a community funded project and the power of collective contributions.

I thought I would post his letter here not only to show how funding models are expanding and changing, but also because I think that this is an interesting project that I would help spread the word about.  Help support great projects!


I am writing to tell you about an exciting project I am currently working on that will debut in January of 2010. Briefly, it is a self-guided audio walking tour for the loop around Lake Merritt in Oakland. Entitled Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After, the tour will use a mixture of ambient field recordings, interviews, music and narration to weave an idiosyncratic but approachable narrative guiding listeners through the various natural and artificial elements that surround Lake Merritt. With an emphasis on local history, cultural diversity, urban ecology, and the power of imagination, Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After will explore the invisible that surrounds the visible—the stories and forces that shape the lake and our perceptions of it. The audio tour will be free to the public and widely accessible to Lake Merritt visitors through both on-site and remote locations. Please see the attached project narrative for more details.

I have been seeking funding for this project over the past several months and recently received a generous matching grant from the East Bay Community Foundation in the amount of  $4,000. The funds are contingent upon my ability to raise an equal amount from individual donors. The intention of EBCF’s Fund for Artists matching grants is to create a broad constituency of support for the creation of new works sited in the East Bay. With this in mind I humbly ask for your support of my project with a donation of any size. In order to receive the full grant amount from the East Bay Community Foundation I have to raise the matching funds by June 29th, 2009. Whether you can give $5 or $500, every donation will be doubled up to the $4,000, all of which will go toward the research, development, and production of this project.

Though I am the lead artist, the making of Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After will be a collaborative and cross-disciplinary process. I will be working closely with recording engineer and musician Michael Blodgett; musical ethnographer, composer, and musician Mark Gergis; and visual artist, writer, and educator Maria Porges. A number of other local musicians will provide the soundtrack for the tour and the Rotary Nature Center located in Lakeside Park has agreed to present the project and provide research support. Additionally The Oakland History Room at the main public library, the Natural Sciences Department at the Oakland Museum of California, the African American Museum and Library, the Nature Sound Society, local historical societies such as the Oakland Heritage Alliance, and cultural organizations such as the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Eastside Arts Alliance, Oaklandish, and Junior Center of Art and Science will serve as valuable resources for the project.

I recognize that these are difficult economic times but believe deeply in the potential of this project to be a genuinely public artwork—seeking connection with the lives of the individuals who experience it. For me art is first and foremost a form of active looking, a way of seeing and making sense of the world around us. It can readjust or expand the frame through which we peer, focusing our attention on something we have never noticed before or synthesizing ideas and experiences we previously thought were unrelated. Guided by these principles Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After will offer an immersive audio experience to listeners in a unique urban public space. I hope you’ll join me in bringing this dynamic project to fruition.

If you would like to support this project in the form of a donation that will be doubled by EBCF’s Fund for Artists matching grant, you may do so by mail. All donations must be received by June 22nd to be eligible for the matching grant. And all donations are tax deductible through my fiscal sponsor the Oakland Museum of California who have generously agreed to offer this service non gratis. Please send checks or money orders made out to “Oakland Museum of California Foundation” with “Once Upon A Time Audio Tour” written in the memo area to:

Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After
c/o Scott Oliver
321 Henry Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Donors to the project will be invited to preview Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After prior to its public debut. Additionally the names of donors will appear on printed materials associated with the project as well as on the project web site unless they request otherwise.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I very much appreciate your interest and support of my work over the years. I would not be able to continue my practice without a supportive community, but more importantly the Bay Area arts culture thrives because of individuals like you.

Scott Oliver

Download and read the full “Once upon a time” project description here

Art Social Networking? In review: Art Slant

For the past couple of days I have been discovering Art Slant, as it calls itself the “#1 Contemporary Art Network.”

It is actually pretty impressive in its dynamic content building and the ways in which it connects artists, galleries, events, resources, writers, and even art lovers/collectors.  Any information that is added by any one person is added into anything or person that it relates to.  Example: If you add an event- the event gets added to the artist’s page, the gallery’s page, the curator’s page.

So artists may have a full page of information with their history of shows and images even if they have not even ever gone onto the website.

There are a couple of things that seem to be unfortunate:

-the inability for it to upload your own blog feed into your profile’s blog

-the fact that there seem to be three categories of profiles and there doesn’t seem to be a way to combine the different profiles: profesional profiles, gallery profiles, and resource profiles.  The Present Group now has a profile in each category and though they are connected through links, I would have to manually update

    That last one perhaps won’t be a problem for most people.  So all in all, I am pretty excited by this website and might, just might, stop updating my terrible, ugly, out-of-date myspace profile as this seems a much better alternative with a much more honed audience.  There is also no “friending”.  Your connections are made through who you work with- so it isn’t a popularity contest.

    Arts, Briefly – Cultural Post at White House –

    President Barack Obama has established a staff position in the White House to oversee arts and culture in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs under Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, a White House official confirmed.

    Though it isn’t the cabinet-level position that the petition was advocating for, it still seems like a step in the right direction.

    Posted via web from thepresentgroup’s posterous

    The Arts and the Stimulus

    The $50 million for the NEA to distribute was first passed in the House bill, then removed in the Senate bill, and finally brought back in the bill passed by all of Congress. Almost 100000 letters flooded into congress giving support to this tiny portion of the overall stimulus package.

    As Americans for the Arts president Robert Lynch writes,

    The nation’s 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion annually in U.S. economic activity. They support 5.7 million jobs and provide nearly $30 billion in government revenue. This economic stimulus will minimize the concern that ten percent of arts groups could close this year and helps save thousands of arts workers from losing their jobs.

    Hotly contested, called “pork,” “non-stimulative,” and “wasteful” by many republicans led by Sen. Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Lynch’s statements (see audio recording below) bring into focus the true economic benefits of the arts in this country.  This will be a big boon for the NEA and new arts projects.  40% of the money will be dispersed to existing state and regional arts organiztions and agencies and the other 60% will go towards funding new arts projects. (!)

    Robert Lynch presents the importance of the Arts to Congress

    A grant for Socially Minded Entrepreneurs

    Another example of someone believing in creating change in small doses- Ramit Sethi isn’t waiting around to see the change he wants in the world.  He’s contributing to it.

    Check out the grant/advice he is offering. It’s due this Thursday!!

    How far we’ve come

    From the same source as Death and Taxes (below)

    389 Years Ago

    Snack time

    While I couldn’t do too much sitting when I hurt my back, I could do some standing activities. So I made fig-plum jam and have ever since been enjoying this tasty treat: blue cheese and warmed fig-plum jam on crackers. I know this isn’t really in the spirit of this blog, but I love this so much, I thought I would share.


    The recipe for the jam is after the jump. Continue Reading »

    Friday, Sept. 19th is PARK(ing) Day


    Rebar has teamed up with The Trust for Public Land to create National PARK(ing) day. Make your own park, however temporary. Find parks near you!

    Emotions have a color

    Orlagh O’Brien did a project that asked participants about five emotions: joy, anger, fear, sadness, and love. He asked them to represent where in the body they felt those emotions, how the body feels those emotions, the direction of those emotions, the things that create those emotions, and the color of those emotions.

    His easy to use website dipicts the compilation of the answers to those questions.  Neat project and interesting results.

    TPG7 + (almost) 2 year Show Photos

    TPG7 + (almost) 2 Year Retrospective Show Release

    Thank you.

    We had a big night on Friday. It was really wonderful to have a space to show all the works that we, the artists, and the subscribers have collaboratively created throughout the past two years. It was great to meet some of our subscribers for the first time, greet our friends and supporters of old, and share with people we just met our project and the works. Two of our artists were able to make an appearence, which was great, along with three of our critics (one future curator/critic).

    We felt very proud to be able to share these works and honored at the turnout. It was also so heartwarming to know that the show was made possible by contributions from so many people. And so..

    Thanks to:

    Old Oakland PSAI Associates for the space, Illinois Arts Council for partial funding of Maggie’s project, Vino! and Ally and Justin Trigg for their generous donations of wine, Southern Exposure and the Alternative Exposure Grant for much needed funds, Tim and Lydia for the projector, Steve, Paul, Elissa, Christine, Ally, and Andy and Lauren for the loans of mp3 players and headphones, Lauren and Andy for day of tasks, Verse and 510 for welcoming us so kindly to the little strip, all of our subscribers, artists, critics, friends, and all those who made the trip.

    We are so honored and grateful for your help, support, and enthusiasm.


    Our first space!

    Sure it’s only for one day, but you gotta start somewhere.



    We’re starting in Old Oakland. Where?

    465 9th street (9th & Broadway), Oakland. September 5th, 2008, 5-10PM. We’ll be showing TPG7 as well as an (almost) two year Present Group Retrospective. Here’s some more info.

    posted: August 29, 2008

    ONE-NIGHT SHOW! TPG7 Release Party, Showcase + (almost) 2 year Retrospective

    What: One Night Art Show for The Present Group Issue #7 [Maggie Leininger: Text/ile] and The Present Group (almost) 2 year Retrospective

    Where: 465 9th Street (9th and Broadway), Old Oakland

    When: September 5th, 2008, 5-10PM

    We’re excited to announce that we’ll be celebrating the release our 7th Issue: Text/ile by Maggie Leininger with a one night show on”First Friday” September 5th, 2008 in Old Oakland. Leininger uses the woven form as a metaphor for the idea of multiplicity/multiples/repeats, creating hand woven textiles that examine the most basic structure of a human: the human genome. The show will investigate the imagery of the chromosome itself, and how it is translated through the Jacquard loom to make fragments, segments of information. This is the only time the entire edition of 51 individual tapestries will be shown together. Starting at 9pm, local subscribers will be able to package and take home their piece.

    Friday’s opening will also feature a retrospective of past Present Group editions. Over the last two years we’ve created fine art books, a collage and print series as well as a video project and a land art/performance. The public is invited to this free event at 465 9th street in Old Oakland from 5-10PM to explore the works in person. If you’re interested but can’t make it, our website features interactive versions of every past edition along with artists interviews, profressional critiques and annotated links sections devoted to each piece.

    Maggie Leininger is an artist based out of Oak Park, IL who is interested in exploring visual relationships between microscopic structures and social systems bydeconstructing/reconstructing patterns through weaving.

    “Where the hell is Matt?” discussion continued. .

    Continuing on from what Eleanor was talking about in her Patronage post.

    What i kept thinking while i watched it was how, with Matt always positioned in the center of the group, he was like the nucleus of a human rejoicing. Whatever he tapped into with his first solo dancing videos that caused them to spread through the internet so broadly, had also allowed him to travel around the world and bring that gift to people everywhere. And seemingly everywhere he goes, people understand and join in.

    This isn’t the same view of the underlying connection of all humanity that’s engendered by the Olympics or World Cup, where the solidarity between people is created through a focus on a single episode, or struggle. In those cases the spectacle is the nucleus, and what draws people to it is in part the knowledge that so many others are being drawn to it. The human connections in this Matt video are much less grand, but they’re also more flexible and personal. It’s just people having fun, for no particular reason for a small amount of time. This formula seems to work just as broadly as the epic conflict between the world’s most highly skilled atheletes for creating connections across cultural boundaries.

    I’m not sure what my point was, but there you go.


    My sister sent me this video yesterday. Maybe this is a modern form of patronage. Rather than commissioning a work solely for oneself, funding is provided for a project to happen and the final results are available to all. This isn’t a new idea; think of orgainzations like Creative Time and Public Art Fund, who solicit donations and funding from a wide variety of sources, and then help fund artists projects for a wider public to experience. The only difference is that this is a single corporate sponsor.

    The creator of this video, Matt Harding, has made three of these videos now. The first was all by himself, just a thing for his friends and family to laugh at. But somehow, in that mystery that every ad executive craves for, the video went viral and within a month his server was crashing from all the traffic (YouTube wasn’t around yet) and millions of viewers had seen his goofy dance. Then he got a proposal from Stride.

    They didn’t want to be involved, all they wanted to do was sponsor Matt to do another video. So they did, two videos really. It is obvious that this is not a commercial for Stride Gum. With the sponsor recognized only after all the credits have rolled, it is pretty inconspicuous. Stride could make a commercial in the exact same way, but that might kill whatever it is that made these videos so appealing. Maybe because it would lose its sponteneity, or the viewer lose the direct connection between the creator and the product, or maybe just because ads turn people off, it’s safe to say an overt Stride Gum commercial wouldn’t get 5 million views in just a couple months. What’s so great about these videos is that, from the start, they were fueled by the desire to make something, by art. I have to say though, whatever Stride was looking for to happen, it worked on me. Though I don’t buy gum, I have a good feeling about Stride.

    Anyways, I thought this was a good followup to yesterday’s post, figuring out how people do what they do.

    Peeping into other artist’s lives

    I remember a time in high school when I all of a sudden realized that there are some artists who actually make a living at being artists. Funny: it was sortof a shock.

    I am always interested to see how other artists and creative people of all varieties make thier lives work. I like listening to interviews, seeing where they live and work, and hearing about their lives in general. It seems like they must have a secret. Not with the internet around! aha.

    On my Desk: where artists, illustrators, designers, & creative folk share the stuff on their desks (or studios)

    WHEREWEDOWHATWEDO: “is a community-built visual database of the spaces in which we spend our days, nights or both doing whatever it is we do. While it may not be the freshest idea in the attic, we thought it would be a fun project to work on during down time. As well as we wanted to give this interesting and slightly voyeuristic concept a place all its own. ”

    Living Proof
    Lastly, I just found out about a project that our friend Helena Keefe has done, called “Living Proof“: a collection of stories about the various ways in which artists make a living. I heart stories.

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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