The Present Prize #3 is open for Nominations!

At the beginning of this year, I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how I could fund some of the projects I was working on and wanted to continue with. These were largely research based projects that I considered part of my practice. But since these works were harder to situate strictly as artworks or as social science, they were very hard to fund.  Fortunately, I’m in a position to help give that opportunity to someone else!

Our practice as artists is dependent on what we produce. But there are times when we need only to explore, where the result is so far from the horizon, that we cannot see it. While often these times can be extremely productive, it is hard for most artists to justify a step away from the exhibition schedule, from deadlines, and from the scene in general in order to dedicate the time needed to fully know a subject.

“To really see something differently, it takes a tremendous amount of work, to understand what is in fact what you are looking at. I make a new project every five years and I think a lot of artists don’t work that way. So many of us are on deadline. I did that as well but in these long term projects I try to understand as much as possible and that takes time. If you really want to understand something and really get into the idea, it takes a long time to investigate any idea or methodology.”-Trevor Paglan

It’s time to reward someone for taking the leap to pursue something complex, for doing the research, and taking the time to learn. Let’s acknowledge the time and commitment an individual is putting forth in order to gain and ultimately share knowledge for the betterment of all of us.

“… art practice, in its most elemental form, is an educational act, for the intent is to provoke dialogue and to initiate change…to vision anew what is possible, but in a way that allows others to share the view.” – Graeme Sullivan

All of our web hostees are invited to nominate two artists that are doing exceptional research as their studio practice.

If you would like to participate in this prize as a non-hostee, you can buy in.  For $25 you can nominate two artists, vote in both the public and final private phases, and contribute your entire amount (minus transaction fees) towards giving an artist a little extra time to research. Learn more here>>

Indexhibit v2 Tutorial Website

Since Indexhibit Version 2 is still somewhat new, and we offer to install it for our hosting clients, we thought we would build something that would encourage familiarity with the platform, help people understand how it works before (and after) installation, and help us learn its advantages and pitfalls.  Periodically, we update the site with something we’ve been fielding questions about.

Happy website making!

Indexhibit v2 Tutorial Website

We want to help you get your portfolio website up.

So we’ve decided to team up with Southern Exposure in order to teach a class on how to do just that.  Sign up – space is limited.

You can read all about it here. 

Boom. by Packard Jennings is winner of The Present Prize: Net Love!

The Hostees have spoken!  51 contributions made up a $1224 Prize for one artist whose work exists on the internet.  204 public voters narrowed down the field of 14 nominated works to three, and now the choice has been made.

We’re going to celebrate with Packard next Thursday September 6th and hand over a big check in Lake Merritt park for a lovely evening happy hour from 5-6:30 pm.  You should join us. We’ll be here.

Congratulations to Packard Jennings for! is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

Destructables was developed with a few basic ideas in mind:

Dissent is necessary for a healthy society.

Public space is politicized.

Resistance and protest needs constant re-invention.


Congratulations to The Present Prize: Net Love Nominees

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be getting some additional information from these artists and building a platform for the public voting phase. In the meantime, get to know the projects!

We Who Feel Differently by Carlos Motta

Supercruft and Live Disasters by Andrew Venell

NSKYC by Mike Bodge by Andrey Yazev

Cultural Differences by Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz  (declined to participate)

Cloaque founded by Carlos Saez and Claudia Mate

Open_Close.txt and The Internet Makes Me Happy by Emilio Gomariz by Packard Jennings

C RED BLUE J by Chris Sollars

HD Jellyfish Footage by Julian Dawe (declined to participate)

Peter Hasson: Praying Ping Pong by Jesse Nichols by Anthony Antonellis

Molteni Net Works by Maria Molteni and the New Craft Artists in Action

Sanctuary by Aaron Vincent Elkaim


The Finalists for The Present Prize: Christine Kesler, Alison Pebworth, Lindsey White

After some riotous voting by the public (thousands of votes were cast), the top three finalists for The Present Prize have been selected!   It was a very close race and up to the last minute people were pulling ahead and dropping behind by just a vote or two in either direction.  Now the hostees will choose who gets the final prize.  Thank you to all who participated in the process and congratulations to our finalists!


B, 2009

Christine Kesler’s recent work takes the form of full-studio installations of paintings and paper sculptures; this entails a great deal of re-purposing old work, and this in turn harnesses energies of destruction, rebirth, and re-imagining. Installations made of painted objects, found objects, paper constructions, and unaltered paintings, drawings, and panels, all exist to subvert the stability of painting and to create consciousness of using what is on hand.


Eagle and Bear (Haida, Quatchi, Sumi, Butterfly Maiden (Hopi), Betty Boop, Progress (Manifest Destiny Goddess), Bear Sterns Bull, Steamboat Willy, Tlazoteol (Aztec), Luchador

Alison Pebworth is a San Francisco-based artist who paintings and multi-media installations are a part of an on-going investigation into the lost and obscured histories of America. She is currently in the midst of a long-term traveling road show, entitled Beautiful Possibility Tour. This traveling exhibition is an interactive project combining art, history, and anthropology and will engage various communities and public art spaces from California to South Dakota, and across the Northern United States and lower Canada. Beautiful Possibility Tour kicked off from Southern Exposure in San Francisco in March 2010, and the artist will be traveling through October. Pebworth has received many public grants and awards for her art and research practice, including from Southern Exposure and the Center for Cultural Innovation.


Distraction, 2010

Lindsey White works in still photography, video and installation, offering subtle and often humorous insights into questions of truth vs illusion, found vs fabricated and synchronicity vs chaos. Her manipulations of materials and settings, by both analog and digital means, mixed with a keen eye for coincidence make for playful yet haunting images of the not so mundane everyday.

Lindsey White lives and works in San Francisco, where she teaches photography at the California College of Art. She received her BFA in Photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland, OR) and her MFA in Photography from the California College of Art (San Francisco, CA). She has exhibited recently at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland, OR), Southern Exposure (San Francisco, CA), the Kala Institute of Art (Berkeley, CA), the Headlands Center for the Arts (Marin, CA) and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (San Jose, CA).

The Present Prize! Voting has begun.

Vote on the winner of the first Present Prize:
a $1K travel grant for a Bay Area artist.

The Present Prize is an intermittent artist grant funded by web hosting fees and awarded by the community of hostees with help from the general public. Each grant period will have a new theme targeting an underfunded area of the creative landscape.

For our first prize, we have teamed up with the Collective Foundation to create a $1K travel grant to a Bay Area artist in order to address a possible reason why Bay Area artists often leave the area after a period of “incubation”. Joseph delPesco, founder of the Collective Foundation speaks eloquently about the reasoning behind this grant theme on the SF Moma blog. (excerpt below)

“Unlike most first-world countries we don’t have a cultural agency at the state or federal level that funds artists’ travel. I have an untested theory that if Bay Area artists had support for mobility that they would be more likely to stay. While the last sentence may sound counter-intuitive, I think one reason artists leave is the relative isolation of the Bay Area in relation to the art centers. More to the point, It appears that most of the artists who have stayed are those who have been able to develop projects and find exhibition opportunities outside of the Bay Area.”

Nominees* for The Present Prize:

Ajit Chauhan, Alison Pebworth, Amanda Eicher, Andrew Venell, Christine Kesler, Lindsey White, Margaret Tedesco, Matt Borruso, and Nathaniel Parsons

We want to YOUR discerning eye!

This stage of the voting is open to all members of the public.  View proposals and give us your preference in randomized arena-style matchups**.  Voting is open until February 28th, 2011. VOTE NOW >>

*Artists were nominated by two groups of hosting clients whose fees contributed to the creation of this grant.  Artists were then contacted to provide short statements about where they wanted to go and why, an image, and a weblink.

** One of the things we were concerned about regarding the voting process was that we wanted to involved the public, but didn’t want it to just be an online popularity contest.  That’s why we decided on the head-to-head matchup style and a proposal-centered presentation.  We hope that this encourages voters to more fully consider the proposals merits rather than simply voting once for their friend and leaving.

Our Chinese tcpsndbuf Error

A couple weeks ago we noticed in Virtuozzo that we were getting a lot of tcpsndbuf “Black Zones”.  Thankfully, it wasn’t taking down the server, but it was disheartening.  Checking our bean counters the failcnt (the last number) was huge:

tcpsndbuf        192296     192296    2867477    4096277  151117486

Why was it happening?

After a little research into what a tcpsndbuf is and why this error might arise, it turned out that most people have this problem when tons of emails are being sent out all at once.  If you think this is your problem, check your mail log to see if anything’s fishy.  Look at what was happening email-wise at the time of the “black zone”.  Here’s a post about tracking down a rogue email script.

Another reason this might happen is when large files are being downloaded simultaneously.

Tracking it down

First we checked the mail logs to see if one of our clients had a script that was spamming, or sending out newsletters to a giant email list or some other nefarious plot was at hand.  No dice, they’re good citizens.

Next we checked the bandwidth usage and noticed that one domain in particular was using much more than usual (like 20 times what it usually uses per month).  This site was a blog that ran a weekly feature tracing a single song through all its manifestations being covered by other artists.  Each post had 5 – 10 mp3s. Now we were getting somewhere.

Checking out their apache access logs it turned out that these audio files had been discovered by a website in China.  There were tons requests for the audio files with no referer, originating from an IP in China, or from the site itself.

Fixing It

I’m not trying to hook China up with free Xiu Xiu mp3s so here’s how we stopped them.  Basically we set up an .htaccess file that rejected requests for audio files where the referer didn’t at least have our domain name in it, or that came directly from the offending site.  Here’s the code:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} /audio/.*
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.*theDomainInQuestion.* [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} .*the\.incomingIP\.fromTheChinese\.site.*
RewriteRule .* – [F]

The problem with this method is that it’s pretty strict.  Because it will refuse any downloads that don’t come directly from the domain, this means it will deny links from an RSS feed too.  You could get around this limitation by changing line 3 to something like:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^$ [OR]

which would prevent requests from no referer, and then tweak it from there, adding more [OR]s to block specific sites.

In consultation with the site owners we decided this strict method was fine.  We added a notice to each post in their RSS feed explaining the problem and notifying readers that the audio files were available on the site.

WordPress “Error establishing a database connection”

If you have the misfortune of experiencing the white screen of doom featuring the simple words “Error establishing a database connection” on your WordPress site, this post might help you troubleshoot.

The Simple Fix

Most people on the internet seemed to have this problem because their wp-config.php database info was incorrect. From the WordPress Forums:

This either means that the username and password information in your wp-config.php file is incorrect or we can’t contact the database server at localhost. This could mean your host’s database server is down.

* Are you sure you have the correct username and password?
* Are you sure that you have typed the correct hostname?
* Are you sure that the database server is running?

If that’s indeed the problem then you’re in luck, just put the correct database name, database user name, and database password in that file.  Make sure your database host is ‘localhost’ or figure out what is via your hosting company.  Or hassle your hosting company to fix their mysql server.  Here’s the part of wp-config.php you’ll want to change btw:

// ** MySQL settings ** //
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘*****_wrdp1′); // The name of the database
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘*****_wrdp1′); // Your MySQL username
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘*****’); // …and password
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost’); // 99% chance you won’t need to change this value

The Hard Fix

Unfortunately this wasn’t my client’s problem.  We are the hosting company and everything was working fine; her db user could connect and had the correct privileges, etc.  After a little tracking down, it turned out that somehow the ‘siteurl’ option for her WordPress installation had been deleted.  This value is also what resides in the “WordPress address (URL)” field under “Settings” on the backend.  Note: don’t delete that.

I went into her database in phpmyadmin, found the table ‘wp_options’, and searched for ‘siteurl’ in the ‘option_name’ field. It was indeed empty so I entered her domain name- ‘http://’ and all- into the ‘option_value’ field.  Viola.

Here’s the sql is you don’t roll GUI:

UPDATE ‘wp_options’ SET option_value=’’ WHERE option_name=’siteurl’

Web hosting that supports artists.


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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