Archive for 2009

Annotated Links: TPG11

Helena’s Picks:

galileosmoonGalileo Galilei’s Moon Drawing

First known drawing of the Moon through a Telescope

Michael Light – Created a book, titled Full Moon, of 129 images of the moon culled from the 32,000 images taken during Apollo missions.
*note: it looks like he is building a new website… this link may not be active much longer?

Astronaut Alan L. Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon and retired early from NASA to focus full time on making paintings depicting his lunar travels.

Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels

Tiny Showcase – Alec Thibodeau Lunar Calendar Poster

The Moon in Contempoary Art:

Wax and Wane by Cassandra C. Jones seen at Baer Ridgeway Gallery in San Francisco

Wax and Wane is a Snap-Motion Re-Animation made from 900 found photographs placed in order to re-create one full cycle of the moon.  The photographs that are included in Wax and Wane came from around the world and are taken by different photographers, mostly amateur. I collect them from friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, image banks, photo exchanges, thrift stores, libraries, private collections, want adds, eBay and the public domain archives ofthe US Army, NOAA and NASA.”


Aleksandra Mir‘s “First Woman on the Moon” is part land art, part social commentary, and part performance.  In 1999, inspired by the thirtieth anniversary of JFK’s famous speech leading us to moon exploration, Aleksandra Mir created a lunar landscape on a Dutch beach and documented her exploration, as the first woman on the moon, on video.

Chris Thorson’s “Waning

Art of the moon: an exploration in space:  From Galileo’s conspiracy theories to Paul Van Hoeydonck’s secret sculpture installed on the moon, Skye Sherwin, a writer for The Guardian(UK), looks at how the relationship between art and lunar exploration has endured

Wikipedia gives us:
A Chronicling of the Moon as an inspiration for works of literature, art, and music and
The Moon in Mythology

A Time Alongside Time by Matthew David Rana

“[A] qualitative alteration of time…would have the weightiest consequence.”
-Giorgio Agamben, Infancy and History

Waxing its way to fullness, or waning its way to newness, the double promise of enrichment and becoming has been brought to bear on the moon. As a venerated celestial body and object of astronomical contemplation, the moon has been made to transcend itself as a powerful and resonant symbol. It is capable of teaching us about our position in the cosmos while providing a distant location on which to pin our hopes and desires.Whether it?s being shot for or leapt upon, the moon, like the starry firmament that surrounds it, is a reminder both of our limitations as terrestrial creatures and our intractable persistence in the face of an incomprehensible vastness.

In his book Infancy and History, Giorgio Agamben speaks to this kind of existential angst when he writes of time as a moment of tension where action and potentiality converge and life is revealed in its totality. Drawing on the ancient Greek notion of cairos, he emphasizes not being a slave to time as a universal or historically unfolding abstraction. Rather, for him, time issues from the specificity of human acts. As action without time
would be meaningless, so is time without action rendered desolate, void. To paraphrase Hakim Bey, it?s the idea that since we refuse to be nothing, there must be a project. In this sense, time can be thought of as something intensely personal, a unique form of temporality inflected by one?s actions within the flow of experience.

While not quite the revelation that Agamben described, my experience with Helena Keefe?s “Phases of the Moon,” was of qualitative alteration. The time that issued from the modest gesture, enacted daily for one synodic month, of affixing to my clothes a pin representing the changes in the moon?s phase, was a peculiar one in which my place and position in the world were thrown. As I repeated this aesthetic act, a major principle around which my daily life is organized began to loosen its hold. My orientation shifted away from a solar calendar and towards a lunar one. Although the new structure remained cyclic and related to the sun, I began to behave differently. I developed a ritual: check the widget, replace the previous day?s pin and attach the new one (rarely have I dressed myself with such intentionality and care). Having gained an awareness of the moon that I previously lacked, I began seeking it out at night, verifying that I was properly synched up. Although the act bore similarities to the careful placement of a flower in a lapel or the jauntiness of a feather in a cap, it was more than an anachronistic or ironic flourish. Somewhere between a Victorian-era locket and a campaign button, the pins themselves drew equivalences between the time produced by ritual and remembrance and the time produced by discourse and communication. More subtly, they came to represent a time in which what?s private and what?s public can productively exist together.

For a time, I was in a time alongside time. To try to recover or extend that time, to cultivate it and make it something enduring would, I think, be to somewhat miss the point. The message is a bit less dramatic than that. It?s even less complicated than a faith in the promise of the fleeting moment. In fact, it?s deceptively simple: for even our smallest gestures, there are weighty consequences

Matthew David Rana
is an artist and writer based in Oakland. He is a featured contributor to Art Practical and his writing has appeared in the books, There is No Two Without Three and I’m a Park and You’re a Deer. Matthew is also co-director, with Michelle Blade, of The Living Room, a storefront project in Oakland. He is currently pursuing a dual MFA/MA in Social Practice and Visual & Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts.

Interview With Helena Keeffe

Helena Keeffe was interviewed on August 23rd, 2009 by Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise of The Present Group.


icon for podpress  Interview with Helena Keeffe - Part 1 [16:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

icon for podpress  Interview with Helena Keeffe - Part 2 [22:48m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Introduction to “Phases of the Moon”


“Phases of the Moon” is an edition of 50 framed sets of moon phase lapel pins.  Each set is accompanied by a digital widget that displays the current lunar phase and it’s corresponding pin.   The fabric pins were created by applying discharge paste – which removes dye rather than adding ink – and the backing is printed with a placeholder image of each pin.  The frame is designed to be rotated at every full and new moon.  This project was produced in the Summer 2009 by Bay Area artist Helena Keeffe and The Present Group on behalf of The Present Group subscribers.

Helena’s proposal was chosen by the current subscribers as part of our yearly “Subscribers Choice” Voting Round.  You may read all the finalists proposals here.

frame_empty_244 frame_full_244

Helena Keeffe has developed an art practice based in situations and exchanges, inviting others to engage in a participatory experience and encouraging vulnerability and intimacy where one might otherwise expect a formal authority. Her work typically involves repurposing a familiar format and disrupting the expectations of the viewer. Many of her projects explore ideas of generosity and economics of exchange that function outside standard monetary models. Her projects are inspired by and deal with real-life situations, often celebrating or bringing to light aspects of urban environments that are normally overlooked.

The digital widget was designed and programmed by Oliver Wise

More Musings on Exposure as Payment

This article was pointed out to me by @maryanndevine on Twitter a while back but somehow I missed it.

Corwin Christie, writing for Technology in the Arts, has a really good article and has spawned quite a bit of conversation in her comparison of the Google scandal to standard Non-profit arts practices.

Last week I wrote about the indignation I feel when I see a company like Google wanting to use art without financially compensating the artists. The post and ensuing discussion on Facebook generated some interesting feedback, and many people expressed the concern that perhaps artists have set the bar low themselves.

This got me thinking about how it is that artists begin accepting less than they are worth–and I think, unfortunately, it is because of the close collaboration that artists have with non-profit arts organizations. And this is much more difficult to get irate about. As I rail against Google for devaluing the work that artists do, I can’t help but think back on the numerous non-profit arts organizations with which I have either been involved or encountered as an artist.

Non-profit organizations, those bastions of hope, those doers of good, whose belief in the arts propels us through the darkest hours of our economic crises, are they immune to the tirade I so readily unleashed on Google?

Click here to keep reading on Technology in the Arts

I’m glad to see people talking about this issue.  I too find it an almost impossible conundrum.  But discussion is good.  What about you, the great wide internet world?  Have you found any examples of nonprofits recognizing this issue and changing the way that they do things so that they start paying the artists they show?  Or does the answer lie outside of the non-profit world, in the shall we say, “no-profit” or “not-for-profit” world?  There are people rethinking, but most of what I have seen comes from this latter world.  There will also always people who want to get their work out for free for a time.  It’s like internships.  I never understood all the people who took a year after they finished college to do an internship.  I had to support myself as, I think, most people do once their schooling is finished.

Art is valuable and everyone knows it. But somehow we just think that it should also be free.

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

a gentle reminder

Just as David Horvitz’s piece (TPG9) reminded you to take a pause and gaze at the ocean or the sky, Helena Keeffe‘s upcoming edition from The Present Group will help you reconnect with the movements of our astral partner, the moon. In some ways, art serves as a gentle reminder to see the world a little differently every day.

Click here to support Helena and three other talented artists in the coming year. Keep your life filled with reminders of the world, the people in it, and their creativity and ideas.

Have you noticed what the moon’s been up to lately?

Neat. We have a Band – “You came out” stop-motion animated music video

Seems like when you put a whole bunch of really creative people together you get something awesome. From what I can tell: Concieved by W+K‘s creative team: Fabian Berglund and Ida Gronblom, Directed by David Wilson, and Art Directed by Hattie Newman.  I like.

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.

TPG Spotting: Washington DC


At the home of Stephanie Hanson and Tom Damassa

Phases of the Moon

We’ve been all about the moon here at TPG headquarters in preparation for Helena’s upcoming piece. But at some point we realized that none us really understood what’s going on up there. A couple hours of internet research revealed that the heyday for earth/moon animations was the mid 80s.

This animation was useful because it has the view of the moon from earth coupled with the relative positions of the earth and moon in relation to the sun. It also drives home the difference in speeds between the earth’s rotation and the rotation of the moon around the earth.

Another fact that was new to me was that the same side of the moon is always facing us. It’s sort of like what would happen if you put a coffee cup on a lazy susan with its handle facing out. As you spun the lazy susan, the handle would remain pointing out. That means that the “Dark side of the moon” is always changing, but the “far side of the moon” is always the same. And technically the “far side of the moon” gets more total sunlight than the side of the moon we see.

And then there’s my personal favorite: this incredibly infectious educational hip hop video for remembering the moon phase terminology. “Quarter moon’s a half moon. Half moon’s a quarter moon”

If anyone comes across any useful descriptions or videos we’d love to hear about them.

The latest in food-funding-art: Portland Stock


Stock is a monthly public dinner event and presentation series, which funds small to medium-sized artist projects. Hosted at Gallery Homeland in Portland, Oregon, diners pay a modest $10 for a dinner of homemade soup and other local delicacies and the chance to take part in deciding which artist proposal will receive the evening’s proceeds. In other words, the dinner’s profits immediately become an artists grant, which is awarded according to the choice of the diners. Winning artists will present their completed work at the following Stock dinner.

Posted via web from thepresentgroup’s posterous

Why, bake sales of course!

I just learned about a new attempt at helping artists raise money. Brooklyn based Tracy Candido started Sweet Tooth of the Tiger as “a way to talk with people about dessert,” but it has grown into a new funding model for artists projects. Artist submit for “residencies” where they say what project they’re trying to raise money for. Tracy sets them up with an event where there will be lots of people to buy their goods (we’re talking bake sale – brownies, cupcakes, sugar in all forms) and find out about their project. She meets the artist at the venue, helps out in the selling, takes a small cut of the profit, and interviews the artist for her blog throughout the night. fun!


Spicy Dark Chocolate Ginger Brownies at WORK gallery (Brooklyn, NY)
photograph by Tracy Candido

About Sweet Tooth of the Tiger: Sweet Tooth of the Tiger is part entrepreneurial/d.i.y. food service project and part participatory art project that uses sugar as a medium and explores eating as social practice. The project takes the form of a bake sale that utilizes the community and public sphere as a place for eating, feeding, and talking with your mouth full. Sweet Tooth is invited by members of its community to set up a bake sale table at awesome events and engage with participants by exchanging baked goods for some money. Hopefully, participants are activated by their sugar high to engage in conversation with other participants, heightening their awareness of their own social position as well as a broadened perspective concerning their present environment.

guidelines: spaces call to artists

I like their approach and wording… sounds like they may choose good shows. I also like the term “artist/curator”. It seems like a burgeoning term.

Posted via web from thepresentgroup’s posterous


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.



The never-ending exposure as payment problem: Some Illustrators talk out against Google.

When Gary Taxali gave Google the finger (both in words and pictures) over 200 other illustrators and artists cheered him on.   Taxali wrote a post on Drawger that gained a lot of attention and apparently some legal threats as the post has now been taken down.  The New York Times today has reported on it here: Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No to Google.  And Reuters has an article with a bit more back story: Artists Give Google the Finger

Basically, it goes like this.  The economy is down, so people are trying to wring their freelancers for rights and free work.  This is such a common problem.  Don’t people realize that if enough people stop paying for work, eventually there won’t be anyone to do the work.  People have to make money at their work, whether it be illustration, art, architecture, floral design, catering, or any other service or product.

People have to hold their ground collectively, otherwise the whole field gets screwed. That’s not so easy to do though.

Striking a chord: Art house interventions

The two projects below are recently striking a chord over the intertubes though both are a little bit old. Maybe because of the foreclosures that are running rampant, or because of places like Detroit, where whole city blocks are abandoned, these house interventions seem to me especially apt.



heather-benning-life-size-doll-houseArtist: Heather Benning (no website found), Dollhouse, 2007

Oliver and I have been spending some of our time looking to buy a house, some of which are foreclosures, short sales, or even multi-units. Yesterday we looked at a triplex where two of the apartments had residents, two older gentlemen, who had obviously lived there forever. We walked through their apartments, getting a little glimpse into their lives. Other houses, though vacant, clearly show remnants of the past residents: a door covered in a child’s favorite stickers, outlines on the walls of every picture in the house. Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning’s “Dollhouse”, though re-created, gives us this same sense of loss and mystery that remains when you see the objects of human history.




This transformation of two vacant houses about to be demolished by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, Inversion (called Tunnel House by many people,) subverts the structure of a house. It was commissioned by Art League Houston back in 2005.  Besides looking really good, the art/house served as a passageway through which one can literally travel, the lives of the people who lived there and their history re-formed.



most Inversion photos by Brother O’Mara

Annotated Links

Contemporary Artists using the structure of the Still Life:

Laura Letinsky (from Wikipedia) “Much of Letinsky’s work alludes to human presence, without including any actual figures. For example, in the Morning and Melancholia (c. 1997-2001), and the I Did Not Remember I Had Forgotten (c. 2002-2004) series, Letinsky seems to document the aftermath of a sumptuous gathering or dinner party.  Faded flower petals intermingle with empty glasses and crumbs of food on partially cleared tables, often covered with a white linen that bears the mark of spilled wine. As alluded in the title Morning and Melancholia these scenes are often filled with a fresh, clear light, as though one is viewing from the perspective of the morning after, what the host failed to clean up the evening before.”  There is a really great interview with her here.

Pat Hobaugh – oil paintings of still lives with sex objects

Emily Eveleth – paints almost exclusively jelly doughnuts.  Yet they ooze with fleshyness, sexuality, and a tactility that draws you in like you’d never expect.  from the catalogue for “All the more Real,” by Merrill Falkenberg:

“Eveleth has painted donuts for the past ten years.  While there is something amusing in her choice to tenderly represent a seemingly inconsequential object, her program is more serious.  She uncovers the donut’s corporeal qualities, rendering them so they become metaphors for our own bodies.  Blood-red liquid encased in fleshy dough drips and oozes out of holes that symbolize bodily orifices or wounds.  A blend between still life and portraiture, Eveleth’s paintings, the larger of which often include dramatic lighting and dark backdrops, incorporate a range of art historical references of Rubens, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio to Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville.”

Stephanie’s Links:

Odd Nerdrum – I always find this painter inspiring and deeply moving on a very human level. His writing on Kitsch is amazing, and I cannot believe so few people know about it.

Franco Mondini-Ruiz– I own one painting by Mondini-Ruiz, and I hope to buy more soon.

Colette – I love reading Colette and Isak Dinesen.

Dream Games: The Art of Robert Shwartz – This is one of my favorite exhibition catalogues. I wish the exhibition had traveled to Chicago where Shwartz was actually born. His paintings are so inspiring, I never tire of them. More of his work can be seen here.

Karen Kilimnik – this particular version of Karen’s work was my favorite iteration of it. The Serpentine, very picturesque in its April 2007 setting, was totally transformed by Kilimnik. Her vision permeated everything. Every detail was thought out and totally in place, in situ at the Serpentine. I was totally immersed in her work, and at the same time, completely able to laugh! Titles do matter, and very much so with Kilimnik. This exhibition was one of my favorite gallery experiences ever.  Her work traveled to Chicago, later and it wasn‘t the same…. In the sterile cubic setting of the museum gallery, Kilimnik’s work seemed quaint, kitschy, and underserved. Every aspect of the architecture of the serpentine understood Kilimniks work, and in Chicago, every aspect of the museum, worked against her. I feel that most people who saw her work probably felt the effect of the huge empty gallery surrounding her small installed “room” as a negative space, literally and figuratively.

Emma Tooth – I found Emma’s work “Concilium Plebis” as I was looking for exhibition spaces for Modern Groceries. Her work is very contemporary, but also very traditionally grounded in skill and craft, much like Odd Nerdrum.

William Eggleston was the first photographer that I truly loved and whose work I continue to go back to over and over again.

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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