More art via subscription!

Just learned about a group called These Birds Walk. They are a small publisher out of Oakland(!) whose goal is ‘to provide affordable art books that quietly exist somewhere between a discarded pamphlet on the street and a high end coffee table book’.

It’s a little bit hard to tell what the deal is from their website, but they do offer subscriptions to four photography books distributed throughout the year. I am not sure if you can only buy them in the four book sets or if you can subscribe and start your subscription at any time. The first year resulted in a series entitled ‘The Kin Series’(link no longer works 10/09). They are just starting on their second series.

It is neat to find similar ideas all burgeoning around the same time. It seems like their subscription series started right around the same time as ours.


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.

Does the fact that we produce artist multiples make them less special?

This was a question from an audience member at our talk at the Headlands. The idea was that many art collectors cherish the uniqueness of the objects they possess, and although some TPG editions consist of unique pieces, this is not a requirement for TPG projects. The moderator, Natasha Boas, fielded the question by noting the importance of the artist multiple in art history, as a way for artists to make money and spread their work among influencial collectors. As we represented the “least traditional” art model in the discussion, here are a couple less traditional ways to look at the question.

We view each artist’s project as the art piece, so the fact that each subscriber will not always receive a unique object is not necessarily our greatest concern. It is part of our agreement with the artists that the project will not be reproduced, so each art piece represents a connection between a specific artist, a specific group of subscribers, and a specific place in time.

Or to look at it another way, during the talk, Julio Ceasar Morales, co-director of the Queen’s Nails Annex, mentioned how his goal was that the art community would support the artist space as much, if not more, than the individual artists they represented. In both our projects, the framework for experiencing and creating art is as important as its individual parts. The framework is an artist’s work too. No one would ever argue that the social space and community Julio has created is less ‘special’ than the physical objects for sale. In fact, a convincing case could be made to the contrary; that it is more visceral, engaging, rewarding, and possesses a greater capacity for change.

There’s no “I” in Present Group.

Voting for TPG7 commences now! We’re exploring the idea of a more inclusive art world and harnasing the power of collective decisions.

Check it out here.

We’ve got five great candidates. And even if you can’t vote, this is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with 5 new artists and their work.

Alice Waters on her community of food

I found this paragraph in Alice Waters’ new book “The Art of Simple Food.” She has such a lovely way of viewing the way she buys food, but I was struck by how she could just as easily be describing art produced through the subscription method. Just replace ‘farmers’ with ‘artists’ and you might not be too far from a vision of a future art world.

“When I started shopping at farmers’ markets, one of the best things about the experience was meeting farmers and learning from them – and influencing them, too, by asking if they could grow vegetables and fruits that has almost disappeared from commerce. After years of this weekly connection, I realized that I had become dependent on a family of friends – and they were dependent on me. By choosing to buy food grown locally and sustainably, in ways that are healthy and humane, I had woven myself into a community that cares about the same things. As a community, we share not only a commitment to protect our natural resources, but an appreciation for the value of food itself, a love for its taste and beauty and the deep pleasure it can bring by connection us to time and place, the seasons, and the cycle of nature.”
-Alice Waters

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