Small Business Jobs Act: What artists and freelancers should know

Yesterday President Obama signed into law HR 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act.  A lot of it has to do with tax cuts for small buisnesses, encouraging investment and entreprenuership, and making it easier and to get small buisness loans: creating new funding for these loans and increasing the maximum loan amount that the SBA doles out.  There are, however, some especially exciting things for small companies, artists, and freelancers in the tax cuts area.  Hello health care deduction and total cell phone deduction.  Bullets taken from the White House Blog:

*A New Deduction of Health Insurance Costs for Self-Employed: The bill allows 2 million self-employed to know that on their taxes for this year, they can get a deduction for the cost of health insurance for themselves and their family members in calculating their self-employment taxes. This provision is estimated to provide over $1.9 billion in tax cuts for these entrepreneurs.

*Tax Relief and Simplification for Cell Phone Deductions: The bill changes rules so that the use of cell phones can be deducted without burdensome extra documentation – making it easier for virtually every small business in America to receive deductions that they are entitled to, beginning on their taxes for this year.

*An Increase in the Deduction for Entrepreneurs’ Start-Up Expenses: The bill temporarily increases the amount of start-up expenditures entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes for this year from $5,000 to $10,000 (with a phase-out threshold of $60,000 in expenditures), offering an immediate incentive for someone with a new business idea to invest in starting up a new small business today.

*A Five-Year Carryback Of General Business Credits: The bill would allow certain small businesses to “carry back” their general business credits to offset five years of taxes – providing them with a break on their taxes for this year – while also allowing these credits to offset the Alternative Minimum Tax, reducing taxes for these small businesses.

*Limitations on Penalties for Errors in Tax Reporting That Disproportionately Affect Small Business: The bill would change, beginning this year, the penalty for failing to report certain tax transactions from a fixed dollar amount – which was criticized for imposing a disproportionately large penalty on small businesses in certain circumstances – to a percentage of the tax benefits from the transaction.

Print Summit 2010: East Carolina University

The Present Group will be taking part in East Carolina’s Print Summit 2010: a three day symposium consisting of exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations celebrating the diversity of contemporary printmaking media.  We’ll be showing Whitney Lynn‘s DIY Survival Kit as part of  “A Survey of Contemporary Printmaking,” an exhibition that includes the work of some of the most influential and important printmakers working in the US today.

Matt Egan and Michael Ehlbeck, professors of printmaking at East Carolina University, brought together five individuals to co-curate an exhibition that would offer a comprehensive look at the innovations and excellence that are shaping the course printmaking today.  Along with many other lectures through the weekend (um, Karen Kunc!), these curators will discuss the collection they brought together and take a look at the current state of printmaking.

The Curators:
Bill Fick, of Cockeyed Press and co-author of “Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Process.”
Beth Grabowski, Professor of Art at UNC Chapel Hill and co-author of “Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Process.”
Rockie Toner, former Dean of the Tyler School of Art.

R.L. Tillman
, artist, educator and co-founder of “Printeresting.”
Matt Rebholz, Assistant Professor, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX.

The Details:
The Summit is hosted by the Printmaking Department of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, September 9 -11, 2010.

“A Survey of Contemporary Printmaking” will be on view at:
Gray Gallery, School of Art and Design, East Carolina University.
September 7th through October 2nd, 2010, Opening Reception 7:00 Friday, September 10th

Panel Discussion for “A Survey of Contemporary Printmaking”
5:30 – 7:00 pm  Speight Auditorium , Room 1220- School of Art and Design

It’s voting season


Once a year, we produce a Subscriber’s Choice Edition.  We narrow down the proposals to five and allow our subscribers and the past year of artists and critics to vote.  I think we have a really strong group of proposals this year. Check them out here.

The finalists are:

Bad at Sports/Art Practical interviews The Present Group

artpractical interviews The Present Group

We’re very excited and honored to have been interviewed by Brian Andrews of Bad at Sports and to show up in Art Practical.

Click Here to read the full interview

The audio version of the interview will be released on Bad at Sports on this Sunday 4/25.

Somebody wrote about us!


We’re honored to be included in this roundup by Emilie Raguso of Oakland Local of Art Subscriptions in the Bay Area.  There’s starting to be quite a number of us! It is really wonderful how this idea is spreading, and people are making it their own.  Thanks to Emilie and Oakland Local, and Welcome to any new visitors!

$200,000 awarded to 26 Califonia Artists: CCI announces it’s Round 5 “Investing in Artists” Grantees.

Congratulations to all!

“We know that grants to individual artists are an important means to help them advance their work, and this is particularly true during an economic recession when financial resources are so scarce,” said CCI President and CEO Cora Mirikitani.

Round V of the Center for Cultural Innovation‘s  Investing in Artists grants program specifically provided support to working artists in the Visual Arts, Craft and Literary Arts in two categories: 1) for the acquisition of Artistic Equipment & Tools; and 2) for Artistic Innovation.

In the Artistic Equipment & Tools category, fourteen (14) artists received Investing in Artists grants:

· Susan Avila (Craft, Oakland)
· Amy Balkin (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Chris Bell (Multidisciplinary, San Mateo)
· Cindy Bernard (Visual Arts, Los Angeles)
· James Buckhouse (Multidisciplinary, Palo Alto)
· Heather Bursch (Visual Arts, Los Angeles)
· Joshua Churchill (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Binh Danh (Photography, San Jose)
· David Gurman (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Taro Hattori (Visual Arts, Oakland)
· Packard Jennings (Multidisciplinary, Oakland)
· Larry Kline (Visual Arts, Escondido)
· Blaine Merker (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Kim Stringfellow (Multidisciplinary, Joshua Tree)

In the Artistic Innovation category, twelve (12) artists received Investing in Artists grants:

· Jeff Chang (Literary Arts, Berkeley)
· Sara Daleiden (Multidisciplinary, Los Angeles)
· Sergio de la Torre (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Amy Franceschini (Visual Arts, San Francisco)
· Guillermo Gomez-Pena (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)
· Desiree Holman (Multidisciplinary, Oakland)
· Ali Liebegott (Literary Arts, San Francisco)
· Kelly Nipper (Multidisciplinary, Los Angeles)
· Scott Oliver (Visual Arts, Oakland)
· Alison Pebworth (Visual Arts, San Francisco)
· Jessica Rath (Visual Arts, Los Angeles)
· Philip Ross (Multidisciplinary, San Francisco)

TPG Expands: Web hosting that Support Artists


We are on a mission to find more ways to get money into artists hands.  Following the funding models that seem to work, models that seem to use what people are paying for anyway, we have decided to start hosing websites.  A website has almost become a business card these days.  So we wanted to create a platform that would not only help people create their own websites in an affordable way, but give them the opportunity to do something good with the money they would be spending anyway to host their sites.

So host with us! At $84/year, it is comparable to most quality hosting sites out there.  Over a quarter of that payment goes directly into The Present Group granting fund.  Each granting period, we will choose a theme, accept nominations from within that theme, and allow all the hostees to vote on the winner.

For the first grant, we are teaming up with the Collective Foundation to fund a travel grant for a Bay Area artist.  As Renny Pritikin has noted on the SFMOMA blog, the Bay Area sometimes has a hard time holding on to its notable artists.  Inspired by the way many other governments work, Joseph del Pesco‘s idea is that part of keeping artists here is to help them with the funds to travel away for opportunities and come back.

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.

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.


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!

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.

Rep. George Miller Announces Hearings to Examine How Arts and Music Benefit the Economy and Education

“Arts organizations generate $166.2 billion in economic activity, support 5.7 million jobs, and return nearly $30 billion in revenue to the government each year, according to a 2007 study by The Americans for the Arts.”

With the arts and music among the many industries being hit hard in economic downturn, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, recently announced plans to hold a series of hearings this Spring to examine how the arts benefit the nation’s economy and schools – and what can be done to improve support for the arts and music fields.  Continue reading here >>

thanks lori

Town Hall Meeting Recap

townhall1Oliver and I thank everyone for coming, introduce ourselves, the State of the Arts project, and Joseph

townhall3The first panel settles in (L-R: David Huff’s legs (Pro Arts), Christian Frock (Invisible Venue), Svea Lin Vezzone (Swarm Gallery), Kerri Johnson (Blank Space), Mike Bianco (Queens Nails Projects)

townhall2The Artist Respondents move front and center

The goal of the day was to get a bunch of people talking about issues like arts funding, government and the arts, the stimulus, the economy and what that means for artists, and interesting ways that all these areas may interact.  This we accomplished.  It is incredibly hard to get a bunch of artists and arts activists who already have an incredibly full work load together and come up with some immediate solutions to any problems, so we didn’t leave the meeting with a clear course of action, but I think that is ok.  We’re still really early on, and just hearing out different ideas and perspectives is always fruitful.

I came away with a couple of things in particular though:

1. If artists want more money from government, they have to show up to meetings and prove themselves as a constituency and fight for what they want.  They could team up with real estate brokers who know how artists turn areas from bad neighborhoods to desirable ones.  They can fight for money in all aspects of government.  Someone suggested that every single government project could have some sort of artistic element to it.  Even if the budgets for this type of work are small, if these jobs are given only to Oakland (or whichever city you live in) artists, the impact could add up.  Mike Bianco spoke about the possibility of starting a union.  If a union charged some dues, maybe each locality could hire a lobbyist.

2. The stimulus for the NEA, in comparison to a lot of things, is still very small.  Lori Zook, from the Oakland Cultural Arts and Marketing Division, suggested that we look not just to the NEA to get our hands on some stimulus money, but also through Education programs and Community Development Programs.  She said there are billions of dollars being funneled into those programs.  Now, this assumes that you’d have to fit your art into one of those categories, which is not always the easiest things to do.  I was talking to my sister about grants and writing for them in general.  Grant writers are incredibly adept at not necessarily fibbing about their projects, but just using the language and framework that the granters want to see.  Perhaps we need to become creative in thinking of the ways that our work could be framed.

I was just talking to Joseph and he thinks this idea is a little bogus, as art should be funded because it is art and we and others should see the value in doing just that.  I believe that, but it seems clear in this country that many policy makers do not believe that.  So I’m ending at one of the very first topics/quandries of the discussion: how to make people understand, believe in, and fund art for its simple value as cultural capital.

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

Visual Arts Town Hall: Envisioning a More Sustainable Arts Community


Building on the discussion that began with our eighth issue, “State of the Arts“, we’ll be hosting a Visual Arts Town Hall Meeting in Old Oakland Saturday February 21st from 3-5.  Moderated by curator Joseph del Pesco, the meeting will be a chance for artists, gallerists, political figures and the public to discuss the way government can influence and support local art production.  We’ll share opportunities that already exist and try to identify simple steps to creating a more sustainable visual arts community.

Participants will include: David Huff (Program Coordinator/Curator Pro Arts), V Smoothe (“A Better Oakland” blog Editor ), Mike Bianco (Queens Nails Projects), Christian L. Frock (Invisible Venue), Kerri Johnson (Blankspace Gallery) Svea Lin Vezzone (Swarm Gallery) and artists: Amy Balkin, Steven Barich (, Helena Keeffe, Aaron Gach, Chris Sollars, David Stein

Visual Arts Town Hall
465 Ninth St. Oakland, CA 94607
February 21st: 3-5 pm

1st hour: moderated panel of gallerists, arts administrators, and politicos
coffee and snack break
2nd hour: artists from the State of the Arts project take the “stage” and respond to the panel and audience questions and comments

This event is sponsored in part by PSAI Old Oakland Associates and Southern Exposure

TPG at Unique Los Angeles: This weekend!

uniquela.jpgUNIQUE LOS ANGELES is an exciting two-day shopping event that showcases independent design talent at great prices. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the event brings together 200 of the best designers, artists and merchants. AND we are one of those amazing vendors.  We are sharing a booth with our good friend Lauren at Sweet Meats and it’s gonna be great.

There are crafting stations, a funny mod bar/lounge, yummy local food, and tons of shopping.

If anyone is in the LA area and wants tickets- we’ve still got some free ones for you!  Just email us and we’ll leave them at the front desk for you. But if you do buy tickets, 50% of the proceeds go to Create Now! a LA based non-profit working with at-risk youth.

December 13th and 14th, 11-7
California Market Center (Penthouse – whatup)
$5 Admission (unless you get some free tickets from us!)


T-shirt orders commence! Support artists and show your love.

It has been decided, and the wheels are in motion.  You can order your very own I heart art t-shirt here. All profits from sales of these sweet t-shirts go directly towards artist stipends.  So you are doing a good thing with your holiday dollars, meanwhile looking really really awesome.


We will begin shipping t-shirts on December 11th.  Get yours!

Hayes Valley “Circle of Joy” Holiday Art Walk and Auction

Come out and enjoy the music, food, drinks, late night shopping, carolers, and general good cheer!  We, along with 25 other artists, created wreaths to be auctioned off in Hayes Valley storefronts to benefit Opportunity Impact.  Opportunity Impact is a non-profit that works with students in the Western Addition during their critical formative years, grades 4-8.  They work to develop life skills and provide education in order to create new opportunities and a better future for young people.

The details:
Auction: Friday, November 28th – Friday, December 5th at 9PM
Hayes Valley Block Party: Friday, December 5th, 6-9 PMwreath.jpg

Participating artists: Blair Bradshaw, Chris Thorson, Lauren Fleischer, Andrew Venell, Don Ross, Lucky Rapp, Mark Paron, Christopher W. Stokes Inside Modern, Ginny Parsons, Kevin Grady, The Present Group, Justin Trigg, [mm+gf] Ally Trigg and Bethany Snyder, Lori Stein, Storm, Matt Silady, Ed Luce, Ben Collison, Madeline Behrens-Brigham, Nicole Baugass, Gregg Casin, Kirsten Tradowsky, Michael G. Broeker

TPG7 + (almost) 2 year Show Photos

TPG7 + (almost) 2 Year Retrospective Show Release

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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