Winter to do: Shower your plants

As winter continues on into it’s doldrums, you can do a nice thing for your houseplants and give them a shower!  The dry air from heat doesn’t do these guys any good.  A tepid shower fully hydrates them, gives them a nice dose of humidity, and cleans off their dusty leaves.  They will reward you for your efforts with renewed growth and a little extra green, all of which helps when the days are very grey.

Sixth Grader Greyson Michael Chance gives Gaga a run for her money" class='title'>Sixth Grader Greyson Michael Chance gives Gaga a run for her money

Pretty awesome.

In-Flight Food Tries to Be Tasty" class='title'>In-Flight Food Tries to Be Tasty

Seriously? “carriers generated a net profit of only 5 or 10 cents on a $10 sale of in-flight food”

Art Work at Sight School

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


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

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

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

Named Non-Owner Liability Car Insurance in California

Ok- obviously not art related at all, but I’ve looked all over the internet and couldn’t find anything helpful so I thought it might be useful information to put out there.

As some of you know, we are using the car crash as a cue and trying out life without owning a car.  Unfortunately, we are not people who don’t need a car at all and so we have been using City Car Share as well as renting cars about 3 days a month.  We’re also renting a car for 5 weeks to drive to and around Utah.

We also just learned a couple things about renting a car in California:

1. It’s illegal to drive a car without liability insurance

2. Car rental companies here do not include any state-required liability insurance into the base price of their rental cars.  Apparently, California, from what I have read, is the only state where this does not happen.  So, if you live in another state and have been buying liability insurance through your rental company, you should know that what you are buying replaces and adds on to what is already included in your rate.  I would still check with your specific company to find out if this is true, but it seems to be.  We use our credit card for our collision insurance.  Again, you still need to check with your credit card to find out what your terms are because they vary a lot.  We use Amex Blue (which we specifically got for it’s good rental car coverage)

So- 5 weeks of buying insurance at $13 a day is a lot.  What other options are out there, you ask?  Well, there are Named Non-Owner policies.  These policies are for people who drive either rentals or other people’s cars.  It is an insurance plan for the person, not the car.  However, you can only do this for cars that you do not own.

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For all the Nerd Companions out there:

Oliver sent this to me: A Handbook for the Nerd Companion

A New day


Welcome to a new day for optimism.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hanson

I heart art: T-shirts!

We’re going to make t-shirts for this holiday season…

Anyone (anyone?) want to vote for the design they like better?


Dear Artists, we’re sorry.

To all those whom have submitted this round, we are very sorry that we haven’t fulfilled our promise to make our decision by the end of October.  We will be working on it this week and will get back to you soon.  Thank you for your patience.  We’ve had some life events pop up that have postponed our decision.


Eleanor and Oliver

Annotated Links

Collecting Textile Art – information on the broad range of textiles in the market, along with tips about displaying and collecting

When is Fiber Art, Art? An essay in Fiber Arts Magazine (a good source of info for all things related to (surprise!) fiber arts) by Janet Koplos

Jacquard LoomThe Jacquard Loom is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, that has holes punched in pasteboard, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order.


Because it was the first machine to use punch cards to control a sequence of operations, it is considered an important step in the history of computing hardware. The ability to change the pattern of the loom’s weave by simply changing cards was an important conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming.

Fiber Artists and Shows:

Thread at Johansson Projects: a review of the show, a list of artists involved “Thread, a survey of sewn, stitched and woven works whose common thread is the media, not the medium. By re-exploring the functional avenues of textiles and materials, these eight artists begin to converse in a neo-craft dialect which diverges greatly from its domestic and industrial traditions. Pins are re-invented as figurative joinery, refuse amassed to render owls, interactive fabric measures changes in electro-magnetic frequencies, making the outcome from these dexterous hands undeniably rare.”

Two artists from the “Thread” show work with the Jacquard loom: “Lia Cook, collected by the Cleveland Museum, de Young, The Met, and NYMOMA and her former student, Christy Matson, who currently lectures at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, both utilize Jacquard weaving looms though their kinship divides from there: Matson’s interactive woven audio cloth relays the constant human flux of the very space Cook’s pointillist portraiture hopes to hold in a single woven moment.”

Anni Albers piece

Anni Albers – was a German-American textile artist and printmaker. She is perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century. In 1971, her and her husband founded the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a not-for-profit organization they hoped would further “the revelation and evocation of vision through art.” Here is a gallery of Albers’ work much of which is strikingly similar to Text/ile. Here is a great interview with Anni that gives some insight into her work and theories.

Seiko Kinoshita – contemporary textile artist from Japan working out of England.

Deepa Panchamia – contemporary sculptural textile artist out of England

Emilio Lobato – Painter inspired by woven textiles. Honoring the weavers of his Spanish ancestry, Lobatos’ new work revisits the ‘Blanket’ series and builds upon its tapestry-like foundation. With inclusions of text and cross symbols, the weft segments are painted the artists trademark colors: earthen reds, blacks and ochres.

Maggie’s Links:

is an AMAZING site that really inspires me on many different levels.

this is a great group that combines knitting and graffiti.

This is the web site for Cat Mazza who is using stitching and knitting for revolution and activism.

A new project collaborative–way cool feminist site!


The Jacquard Center in Henderson, North Carolina – Text/ile was produced while Maggie was an artist in residency here.


Fiber Arts as Activism:


Stitch for Senate is an initiative of knit hobbyists making helmet liners for every United States Senator. Building on the tradition of wartime knitting, a practice dating back to the American Revolution, Stitch for Senate revives this cultural trend by engaging with public officials about the war in Iraq. Hobbyists knit in solidarity to persuade elected officials to support the troops by bringing them home. All the senators will receive their own helmet liner the week of the 2008 election, after being displayed in the seating chart of the US Senate at gallery venue. Once they are received, senators can opt to send helmets to a soldier.


Looking for a one night spot

Thought I would put it here, cause who knows? It could help.

We are looking for a space in the area of the Oakland Art Murmer to show (TPG7, Subscriber’s Choice Artist) Maggie Leininger’s work for a one night show September 5th, 2008. Anybody, Anybody?

thank you


Today was spent editting together the artist interview DVD for TPG6. For the first time seeing the whole project come together I was struck by how lucky we are to do this. TPG really is a conduit between artists and art lovers, and our job is to maintain it. It’s so fun to watch what comes through.

Recap: Uncharted Waters

Yesterday evening we had the honor of joining a panel of some really great people. It was a great experience for us, not only in the opportunity to spread the word about The Present Group, but also to discuss with a diverse audience what it is to be in the art market today and how that could be and does seem to be evolving or changing. We were asked some great questions, and because it is sometimes hard for me to answer them on the spot, Oliver and I are hoping to address some of these questions over the course of the next few weeks on the blog.

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us!

Happy Monday.

CCA Open House

This past weekend we also went to the CCA open house to see our friend (and TPG #3 artist) Christine Kesler‘s work. It’s the end of their first year and they were showing off their work. Of course I didn’t take any pictures or write down anyone’s name, so it doesn’t make for a very good posting. The work seemed pretty mixed, though you could see how waves of influence pass up and down the hallway. Three artists had something that had to do with dollar bills. There was a good amount of proving one’s own sexuality, or at least presenting it in some way. And I think I saw at least two or three places that had some sort of concentric ring type things that sortof reminded me of tree rings.

We also weren’t staying too long as my parents were with us and described the feeling as similar to the theme of No Country for Old Men.

At the very end of the hallway, there was an artist named Elisheva Biernoff who was taking photos in her Arctic photo booth. I don’t know if the point was to show how much people love getting their picture taken, or to have some sort of situation where there is a setup for a formalized transaction between artmaker and art “consumer,” or it is to memorialize glaciers, or if she uses the arctic scene for some other project, but it seemed fun. I do especially love all sorts of dioramas- though it really flattens out in the photo. Oliver and I look like two big cartoon mountains rising from the horizon.


The Call is Out for TPG7!

What we are looking for:
Proposals for projects that are reproducible in intent. Each piece can be a limited edition, an artist multiple, or either a part of or a document of a larger work. Our current edition numbers are under 100. We choose based on the piece’s Visual, Conceptual, and/or Experiential interest. The project will be made exclusively through The Present Group. We understand that similar themes and images may be used throughout your other work, however you agree not to create the exact project in the same form again.

Appreciation for Selected Artists:
* $500 (This is an honorarium outside of the costs of creating the work-which we cover)

* 4 of the produced work for your own collection or to sell on your own.

* All the contextual information we create for your piece, including artist info, critiques, and video will remain free on-line as long as TPG exists

We have a rolling submissions policy; we review proposals four times a year. The our next review date is ARPIL 9th, 2008. Everyone who applies will be contacted by e-mail.

Download submission guidelines here:

Click here for more information about The Present Group


It’s been a year! Thank you to all of our initial subscribers, helping us get off the ground. cookies.jpg

#4, Guerilla Sculpture, and Musings

thanksgiving.jpgI’m trying to get my act together over here, so rather than post all these things I have been thinking about for a long time individually , I’m going to slam bam you in one massive post.

First off, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone’s was wonderful and looked as good as this. Scrumdillyumptious.

As most of you know, or are finding out any day now, #4 is out!! We are very happy to have ended an eventful year with Brian’s work. Here’s a peak at me doing a late night final edit of our letter to our lovely subscribers.



In our travels and travails around, we have come across a few things that I think are worth sharing.

Guerilla Sculpture spotted in Walnut Creek, CA- Sunday, November 18th


We just happened to come across this at the exact right moment, it’s peak. For a moment we didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on- it almost looked like snow, but it was advancing slowly towards us. For a moment while my brain was adjusting, I had a fleeting fear-unknowing, but then I was sooo happy. The bubbles were just billowing out and the wall of foam (at least a foot and a half tall) was slowly creeping across and covering the street. Pretty soon thereafter cars started whizzing through it, sending up huge blasts of “confetti” into the air, and trailing it all down the street.

This reminded me of an article I had been meaning to read for a while in Art Review Digital (Issue 16), entitled “What is Art for?” Here are a couple of quotes from it:

“[Artworks] help contruct my notions of what is possible, open new vistas of interest and have the potential to change who I am and what I think….What they do share is that there is a consequence to looking and thinking about them – a consequence that generates a possibility that was not there before, or was, at least, not available as a possibility to me…and has the potential to affect our social relations – how we choose to behave and what we choose to value.” -Charles Esche

“Art is the best tool we have when it comes to shattering our environment into an infinite number of imaginary tales, forms and space-times….What does seem clear is that art occupies a specific position in the city, and that this position is thus political: it incites its subjects to become active, to refuse the passive position the world of entertainment tries to foist on them. Entertainment places us in front of images to be looked at, while social formatting provides us with frameworks in which we must live. If artistic activity consists of putting these instruments and products back into play, then the observer’s task is, as in tennis, to knock the ball back into the other court.” – Niclolas Bourriaud

I found it interesting that both authors found the ulitmate purpose of art to be social, political. I’ve always liked art, and considered “good” art, anything that has had an affect, one way or another, on me. It is the challenge. A game. Bourriaud insinuates that it is the viewer that absorbs the new world and boundaries that the artist proposes by using that information to define and restrict that very world with new boundaries. Think of all the advertisements showing things floating in glass cubes floating in liquid years after Damien Hirst showed his first floating shark. So what is art for? It keeps the game going, keeps us moving forward.

TPG #3 – Back Issues

These works from “I began building on a piece of land” are still available as back issues.Please be sure to indicate the number of the piece you would like.

08_lg 19_lg
#8 – Brooklyn, NY #19 – Cylinder, IA
#48 – Henderson, NV

“I began building on a piece of land” Release

OAKLAND, CA: September 11th, 2007 – The Present Group, a quarterly art subscription service, unveiled an interactive online version of artist Christine Kesler’s “I began building on a piece of land” today. Kesler’s series of 65 drawings is part landscape painting, part collage. The surfaces of some pieces are heavily built up from found bits of paper and debris, while others are delicately rendered in pencil and thin washes. Each describes a specific topography that Kesler encountered on her recent drive across the United States to her new home in San Francisco.

As critic Anuradha Vikram writes, “The result of her labors is a series of psychogeographical maps. Colorful scraps bearing handwriting from a thousand strangers, their most intimate moments momentarily recorded and then tossed aside, are worked into graceful drawings on paper, worked with pen, pencil, india ink, watercolor, gesso and pastel”

The 65 pieces, which were commissioned on behalf of The Present Group’s subscribers, are now available for the public to explore online, along with Kesler’s audio commentary describing her journey, an interview, formal critique, annotated links to other resources, and a discussion of the work.

When: Now

A New Way of Supporting Contemporary Art: Subscription Art

The Present Group is like a mutual fund that produces art instead of profits. As a private grant-giving organization, it enables a community of subscribers to support contemporary artists and receive original artwork in return. With The Present Group everyone benefits. Artists gain a new avenue of support. Subscribers receive exclusive and compelling works of art. The world gets an accessible resource and welcoming meeting place devoted to contemporary art.

Contact: co-founder, Oliver Wise,, 510.419.0616

Earth-Kiln-Bay-Kiln-Bay Press Release

Land Art Performance meets the digital world. Artist’s work presented online for the public to experience.

OAKLAND, CA: June 26, 2007 – The Present Group, a quarterly art subscription service, unveiled an interactive online version of “Earth-Kiln-Bay-Kiln-Bay” today. For his piece (the second edition of The Present Group) artist Presley Martin collected weathered bricks from a beach in Berkeley, CA. To insert himself into the process, Martin glazed and fired these cast-offs before returning them to the beach and arranging them in a simple circular form. As the tide rose and fell, the waves of the San Francisco Bay continued to weather and re-distributed the bricks. With the help of The Present Group and the United States Postal System, the bricks continue their journey around the country, each stage collected and re-presented to the homes of TPG subscribers. Emily Kuenstler sums up the work in her statement,

“I find Martin’s work especially relevant to the times in which we now live. While the seriousness of world events and crises require daily reckoning with meaning, reclaimed objects inherently illicit new meanings, recontextualized. Rethinking where we have been as a society—and how we have gotten here—is crucial; doing so in a pure, considered aesthetic gesture is restorative.”

An interactive, digital version of the work, with video documentation of Martin’s performance, is now available for the public online, along with an interview, critique, annotated links to other resources, and a discussion of the work.

When: Now

A New Way of Supporting Contemporary Art: Subscription Art
The Present Group’s quarterly subscription model is a new approach to funding artists while expanding the base of art lovers and collectors. TPG aims to de-mystify the art world one piece at a time, by interviewing the artist, commissioning critics to help subscribers contextualize the work, and by providing a free online resource and discussion area built around each piece. Subscribers can learn about and absorb each piece at their own pace, in the comfort of their own homes, without the intimidation factor of a gallery or museum. As Oliver Wise, co-founder of The Present Group, points out, “It’s the most current contemporary art class you can take.”

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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