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.


TPG18 in the mail.

First edition out while being parents.  Harder than we thought.

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.

San Francisco Pride: Giants

3 run home run!

World Series Champions

City Hall decked out in orange and black

something pretty

sorry for the lack of posts lately: putting out the piece and applying for stuff.  Happy Labor Day Weekend!


a sampling from our travels on the hot coast




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in some places, summer is coming

But here we layer up and watch fog tsunamis take over the earth in slow motion.  It’s sortof awesome.

I guess I’ve always liked Social Practice..

I was warming my bum at our heater and I found myself staring at our bookshelf’s row of artist books.  Nestled in between was one of the first books I’ve ever made: The Painter. I think I was in 4th or 5th grade.


Here’s the story, spelling intact:

Once apon a time there was a little village inside a forest.  Inside the village everyone was always sad and dreary.

One day a painter came into the village to paint.  When he started to paint the people, he realized that they always had frowns on their faces.

The painter wanted to know why, so he would pick a dfferent spot each day, sit there, and watch the people.


Pretty soon he saw that there were no families, romances or friends.  The painter wanted to end this, so he got to work.

He painted beautiful pictures about love and some about friendship.

Then the next week he picked a day and gave away all the paintings on one condition.  The condition was that all the villagers had to give their paintings to someone else on the day after next.

He ran out of paintings that day, but that night he made some paintings.  Before the day that every one had to give their paintings, the painter made sure everyone in the village had a painting.

On the day that everyone gave their paintings to someone else, everyone was happy.  From then on they did this every year, except only with cards, and this was the begining of Valentine’s Day.

The End.


oh hai – it’s the holidaze



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

Perfect Sunday

It started with Pear Ginger Muffins and Julia Child’s Omeletts (we ate them too fast to take a picture)

Pear Ginger muffins


Yes. That is a pad of butter on my steaming muffin.  Layer your pleasures people.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Nigella’s Pear Ginger Muffin recipe:

-Preheat oven to 400.
-In a large bowl, mix 1 cup white flour, 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp of salt.
-In another bowl, mix 2/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbs honey (warm), and 2 large eggs. Fold into the dry ingredients.
-Fold in 1.5 cups peeled pears cut into 1/4 inch dice, 1/2 cup ground walnuts, 3 T minced crystallized ginger.
-Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle 2 tbs total brown sugar over tops of muffins and bake for 20 minutes.

*only comments would be that they still weren’t gingery enough for me – but that may be because my ground ginger was a little old, and I might try replacing the oil with something else – I don’t like the smell of oil in baked goods.

Then we used one of our Extended Freedom Days from City Car Share and drove to Point Reyes.


It always amazes us how rejuvenating hiking can be.  We get so stressed and cooped up right around the release of a piece and we could just feel that *junk* releasing as we walked and breathed actual fresh air.


This picture captures the calm.

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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.


today 1:30


I love it when I don’t think I have any food in the house and then make myself a plate like this.

Sometimes it just gets better


I have been making these Doughnut Muffins since high school.  They are super delicious and quick and easy to make.  It says in the recipe, “They are done when the edges begin to brown and the centers sink in.”  But my centers never sank.  They still tasted delightful and so it never bothered me much.  But now, to my utter surprise, the centers have started to sink.  I don’t recall doing anything differently, I don’t have any different equipment, they just work right now.

I read (along with half the nation) Malcom Gladwell’s, “Outliers” at the beginning of the year.  In it, he asserts the theory that in order to become an expert at something, you have to work at it for 10,000 hours. I don’t think that I’ve spent quite that much time on these muffins, but maybe there is something to be said for there being a threshold of time at which you all of a sudden become better at whatever it is that you are working at.  Maybe it’s a different amount of time for different types of activities.  I don’t know, but somehow it makes me hopeful.

Here’s the recipe:

Doughnut Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream sugar and butter.  Stir in beaten egg. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients.  Do not beat.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. They are done when the edges begin to brown and the centers sink in.


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.



Thinking about Utah



Working from our new home in Utah

So we’re up and running in Utah and it’s pretty nice.  This morning we went on an early morning snowshoe before work.  I thought I would give you a litte snapshot.

Our cozy home

Our cozy home

Oliver setup our desk.  He gave me the window, but also glare.  I still feel like I won.

Oliver setup our desk. He gave me the window, but also glare. I still feel like I won.

View from my "office"

View from my "office"

snowshoeingThis is the road to the house. A *little* muddy.
An early snowshoe and the muddy, muddy road that leads to our house.

It’s nice out here: The drive to Utah

We spent the past couple of days driving out to our new (for one month) home in Utah.  Our country has a lot of space. And though some people complain about the 5, I personally love it in the spring.  It’s a patchwork of different color blooming trees.  And all the recent rain in California brought super green hills and wide swaths of blooming wildflowers in orange and yellow.

Blooms on the 5

Blooms on the 5

green hills

green hills

Orange! California poppies?

Orange! California poppies?

Camping at Cottonwood Cove, NV   Lake Mead in the background

Camping at Cottonwood Cove, NV Lake Mead in the background

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Oliver says that I seriously cut myself every six months.  Seeems about right.  Luckily, after last night’s tetnus booster I don’t have to go to the ER (hopefully) for another 7 years.

PS- it isn’t as bad as it looks.

Here’s to hoping




From Wednesday night’s vigil and rally at City Hall, San Francisco

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