Thursday, November 19, 2009

Georgina Valverde: Moral Geometry

Opening Friday December 4, from 6pm-10pm

December 4 - January 2, 2010

With performance by Microgig starting at 8:00 p.m.

In the introduction of The Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo speaks of “moral geometry” to explain how ‘The Philosophy of Tea,” or “Teaism,” embodies Eastern ideals related to purity, simplicity, and a sense of proportion to nature and the cosmos. “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence,” says Kakuzo.

Moral Geometry makes sense out of the “sordid facts” of the quotidian: repetition, waste and consumption. Using the components of over 1600 teabags donated by friends and acquaintances, Georgina Valverde creates a body of work exploring the potential for repeated small actions to manifest form, beauty and meaning.

The centerpiece of Moral Geometry is a small building titled Teacage based on the Wardian case, a precursor of the modern terrarium. Working for the British East India Company in 1848, Robert Fortune used Wardian cases to smuggle 20,000 tea plants from Shanghai to start the first plantations in Assam, India. Teacage is a flexible structure that can be broken down into a series of screens or space dividers. As such, Teacage is a forum for performance, workshops and social encounters. The first event is a performance by Microgig. Other events will be announced.

Georgina Valverde was born in Mexico City in 1962. She has a BFA, 1987, in Painting and Printmaking and a BA, 1987, in Modern Languages from James Madison University, Va., and an MFA, 2003, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Georgina’s work has been most recently featured at the Centro Jaime Sabines in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Tamaulipas, México, the University of Texas Pan-American, Edinburg, and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Her work has also been exhibited at the former Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art and the Cullacht Residency program at the Galway City Arts Center, Ireland among other venues.

This project is partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Also this month's Project Wall Space: Chris Wood


The project, Recomposition, is the culmination of a five year long process. The first four years involved building the collection. It started off rather casual, but became more serious as time went on. The very initial collecting of the foods happened more out of a general aloofness toward the state of my refrigerator, but soon developed into a curiosity: What will grow next? Why are these milks aging differently? Hummus... really? In time, I grew attached to certain items of interest and refused to part with them, even at the prodding of friends, roommates and those who helped move them to a new apartment. Though the final product carries with it a touch of absurdity, it is an earnest representation of a set of objects I find interest in, particularly when viewed as a set. Through documentation and presentation, the characters are presented in a slightly more permanent, though still liminal condition.

Chris Wood, a native of Pittsburgh, earned a BFA in Illustration from the University of Dayton in 2001 and an MFA in Painting from Northern Illinois University in 2005. His work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions nationally. Currently he lives and works in Chicago, where he runs his studio and teaches at the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago. His recent work uses a diverse range of materials, from graphite, charcoal and acrylic to digital, photography, foil and food.

Opening Friday December 4, from 6pm-10pm

December 4 - January 2, 2010

1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608
antenapilsen (at)
(773) 257-3534
Hours: by appointment only

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art review in the Loyola Phoenix

On the state of the zombie:
Antena Gallery offers an introspective.

by Stan Golovchuk

Walking through Zombie: A Mindless Affair, I couldn’t help but feel alive. The exhibit is an ambitious sprawl of mixed media art whose ideas on death and the unnatural manage to stand out in the onslaught of Halloween-themed entertainment offered in Chicago. Zombie could even be this season’s best kept secret, so it’s a good thing the Antena Gallery is keeping it active until Nov. 21.

Antena is a wing of Miguel Cortez’s studio apartment. Part zombie gallery exhibit, part living space surely sounds like an unnatural creation, but it’s actually less weird than it may seem.

The gallery is located in the heart of Pilsen, around the corner from the Jumping Bean Café and behind a green metal door. After knocking on the door thrice (because that seemed appropriate) I was welcomed by the smiling, laid back owner. Inside, I was led to the gallery and let loose on the exhibit. The grotesque, peculiar and chilling creations immediately absorb the viewer’s attention.

Zombie consists of 35 different works done by 32 artists. Practically every medium and material imaginable went into creating this exhibit, from oil on canvas, to film, meat, prose, leather and music, just to name a few. Every work is somehow unique and brilliant in its own way, but all together, the collection is mesmerizing.

A piece that I thought quite frightening was Andrea Jablonski’s “Clare and the Captured Moonlight.” Half of the piece is a painting of a tortured baby doll with torn hair and a gouged eye, adjacent to a bright crescent moon behind a railed window. This installation is accompanied by a clever poem that tells the story of how a doll named Clare was tormented by her owner and the revenge that followed suit.

A few feet down lies Jacob C. Hammes’ “Meat Phone.” This creation looks just like it sounds, and is vaguely reminiscent of a rejected prop from David Cronenberg’s movie, Videodrome.

On a few occasions, small or seemingly more discreet installations can startle, ones that jump out at the viewer when seen from the right angle.

Bert Stubler’s “Anabaptism” serves as a perfect example. It’s made from fimo, paint and wire, but it basically looks like an androgynous figurine sliding down the wall with a trail of blood. Its simplicity and small size might make it incongruous at first glance, but it becomes unforgettable once seen.

Some of the work is for sale, including a painting called “The Pure Harmony.” This oil on canvas painting by Vladimir Kharitonsky is priced at $3,000. If not for the cost, I would have bought it immediately. The 28” x 34” painting shows a man with a cabbage head posing next to his wife, who has a rabbit head. The work looks like a photo of an old sideshow act, both odd and intriguing. The subtle commentary on gender roles makes me wonder if it was painted after a break up.

On the opposite side of the room is a wall with two portable DVD players. At these stations, viewers can see short zombie films made by local filmmakers.

Organ Factory, which can be bought on DVD for $25, is a six-minute homage to the gore and conventions of traditional zombie cinema. Lots of organs are eaten in this short film, and the make-up looks as though legendary horror makeup artist Tom Savini might have designed it.

The other film is a funny commentary on the frustrations of dating zombie men. I’m SOOO over Zombies tells the stories of two girls and the challenges they face dating the undead. But to be honest, the women in this movie sound awfully shrewish: It’s surprising that their boyfriends haven’t eaten them yet.

The entire exhibit was put together by Cortez’s friend and contributing artist, Edra Soto. Visits are by appointment only, contact information for the artist and information on the exhibit is available at

Original post:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(re)load : new media art

Catherine Forster
Amanda Gutierrez
Patrick Lichty
Shane Mecklenburger
Mari Ortiz
Rob Ray
Sara Schnadt
Michael Una

Opening Friday May 15 from 6pm-10pm
May 15 - June 13, 2009

New media art is an art genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, interactive art technologies, computer robotics, and art as biotechnology. The term differentiates itself by its resulting cultural objects, which can be seen in opposition to those deriving from old media arts (i.e. traditional painting, sculpture, etc.). This show is a small portion of what some artists have created in Chicago.

1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608
antenapilsen (at)
Saturdays noon-5pm or by appointment

Monday, April 13, 2009

from Proximity Magazine

Primal Dildo

Paul Nudd and Nick Black at Antena
February 20 - March 21, 2009

A myth within a myth spoke to us unconsciously of a time before history in which a group of ape-people, known as the “primal horde,” cowered in fear before the arbitrary but absolute brutality of a male who neither shared nor gave away anything, but ate, penetrated, defiled, and pummeled anything and anyone he pleased. Eventually the feared male is killed, and the guilt causes the group to project reverence onto a “totem,” an animal or other such image that serves as a common ancestor and protector of the group, while the horror at communal castration causes the totem to be represented in magical erotic objects, or fetishes. Just as Freud’s archetypal birth of perversion was declared obsolete by the evolving consensus of the supposedly scientific psychoanalytic community, it became apparent that the anxiety caused by the desire to kill the violent, cruel, jealous, animalistic “primal father” was a strikingly appropriate motif for the denuded manhood of a sedentary, rootless, commodity-worshipping modern culture.

Mutent Toy by Nick Black. Courtesy of Antena Gallery.

Mutant Toy by Nick Black. Courtesy of Antena Gallery.

In their show at Antena, “The Pour Rubber,” Paul Nudd and Nick Black have created a cabinet of curiosities that indexes every form of phobic jizz dripping from the hindbrain of modern masculinity. Among Nick Black’s frisky Frankensteined toy automata, a suspicious duck-billed Santa Claus farts loudly while bouncing a naked Chinese baby doll on his knee. In another, a brown-skinned baby dominatrix yanks the chain leash for a half-naked smiling white anchorman type on all fours in a little “Pet Shop” set, accompanied by the immortal strains of House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” Evil smoke pours from sundry openings in Paul Nudd’s large black sculptural heads. Nudd’s pieces also feature large drawings advertising unseemly balms, salves, and chutneys, and video screens portraying colorful fluids and solids emerging from and retreating within frantically quivering orifices. The ideas could be partially summarized as tongue-in-cheek dioramas of implied profanation, but Black’s delicate DIY engineering and Nudd’s effortless repurposing of graphic design and video production are so ruggedly handsome in their presentation than they elevate pubescent naughtiness to a level of Baroque grandeur.

This installation could be considered as a museum of triggers for anxieties linked to buried traumas and/or violations of deeply instilled boundaries. A museum, rather than a chamber of horrors, because the artists put their visual provocations into a well-lit space and abstract them beyond any clear depictions of brutality or obscenity. This taxonomically impersonal defanging of psychological and moral strictures recalls the analytical, affectless cruelty of the Marquis de Sade, a “primal father” for modernity if there ever was one.

But what the show celebrates is hilarity, playing off the letter against the spirit of laws around taboo. Black and Nudd express their mischief through imaginative fetishistic props that create erotic drama, a practice Gilles Deleuze associates with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, namesake of sadism’s partner syndrome, masochism. Deleuze claims, opposing him to Sade, that “Masoch aspires to a world of suspense and waiting, and thus aestheticizes the real as a series of tableaux vivants.” These fetishes erase the “lack” of the mother’s phallus, and so this immersively titillating show leaves us with the secret truth of our era: the “primal father” is a dominant mother, an amazon lurking in the scat-fantasies of a few dozen generations with no fatherhood ideal. But through the corrosive power of office humor, the male employee of the MILF CEO secretly retains control. Without apology or vulgarity, Black and Nudd’s elegantly crafted work portray dilemnas at the heart of the modern gender divide with tenderness and some uncanny awe.

by Bert Stabler

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

next show opens April 3, 2009

Secret School 05: Food at Antena, Chicago
In Collaboration with Alexander Stewart

Also this month:
Project Wall Space: Anni Holm
Monthly Video Series: Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Secret School is pleased to collaborate with Alexander Stewart to examine the importance of food in fostering social networks and the possibilities of barter exchange in decentralizing market systems. A food for art supply swap will begin the event at 6PM and last until 8PM, followed by a 90 minute program of videos that explore cultural relationships with food, including those of Patty Chang, Cecilia Ramirez-Corzo, Joey Frank, Andy Cahill, Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon, Sophia Peer, Karen Tam, Pizza Dog, and a few other food-themed surprises. Secret School and Stewart will issue a corresponding book of recipes, essays, and anecdotes about food.

Bring a homemade dish or art supplies for entry. Arrive early for the swap, stay for the screening.

Return for open format crafting and snacking sessions, a.k.a. Crafternoons.
Noon-5PM every Saturday from April 4 - May 2. Bring snacks, crafts, and friends.

Secret School explores the importance of the hidden and invisible in the social identity of a community through a series of time-based events and collaborations. Ranging from the political to the personal, epic to the quotidian, unknown to unknowable, how do secrets function in the transfer and preservation of power? At a time in which oversaturation of readily available information already exceeds our capacity for adequate synthesis, how can the poetics of secrets cut through the logic of facts? When does the form of a secret supersede its content, and under what circumstances must information remain a secret? Secret School spans an indefinite number of sessions and range of spaces and extends from the aesthetic practice of building systems of social exchange.

For more information, visit or email

Opening Friday April 3, 2009 from 6pm-10pm
April 3 - May 2, 2009

1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608
antenapilsen (at)
Saturdays noon-5pm or by appointment

Refreshments provided by Red Stripe:

Monday, March 2, 2009

review in the Chicago Weekly

The Surreal Life: Paul Nudd and Nick Black bring the weird to antena gallery
Written by: Melanie Treuhaft

One of Nick Black's Mutant Toys; courtesy of antena gallery

One of Nick Black's Mutant Toys; courtesy of antena gallery

It was cold enough outside to catch me off-guard with the momentary conviction that Santa had set up shop in Miguel Cortez’s antena gallery. Sounds of running motors and clicking machinery came from an array of colorful objects placed sporadically throughout the room, creating a mechanical harmony. Viewers engaged with their surroundings, pulling knobs and tinkering with little objects: experiencing the artwork required participation. But the wholesome aspect of this first impression was disrupted upon surveying the small, high-ceilinged space more closely. The contraptions lining the walls revealed themselves not as charming teddy bears and dolls, but instead as mildly perverted reconstructions of old children’s toys. Artist Nick Black had dismantled the playthings, rearranged parts, and reassembled them into an “Orgy of Mutant Toys.”

Rubber seems to be almost entirely absent from the scene…until one sees it seeping through the walls by way of Paul Nudd’s drawings. Slimy greens and dirty browns assume organic forms resembling hairy amoebas and other oozing blobs. Each drawing features a short message, either a humorous catchphrase or a random combination of words, absorbed into the flow of the composition.

Nudd also furnishes the gallery with a large, black, smoke-emitting sculpture which blends in with its environment by clouding its own image. One corner of the room is dominated by its four hollow heads, each taller than the people staring through its eyes to the back inside surface. Each is connected to a tubular post, all four of which merge into one long tube at the base. A smoke machine positioned at the opening of the communal tube generates white smoke which slowly creeps into the room through the facial orifices. After a few rounds of smoke machine magic, the small room takes on a hazy atmosphere through which the distorted sculptures shimmer like relics from mystical religious ceremonies.

Amid the drawings, the mutant toys, and the four-headed smoke beast, podiums are dispersed throughout the room, supporting more darkly fanciful works of sculpture. This almost cluttered organization creates a surprisingly comfortable space in which viewers can feel right at home. Despite what some would probably consider unsettling imagery, the room facilitates a friendly, open environment in which to embrace such a collection. The curator seems to have meticulously thought out and arranged the objects in the space. What could have easily turned into a random muddle is successfully distributed throughout the gallery. In addition, the warm lighting helps maintain an atmosphere at ease with the disturbing art objects.

At the opening, Black fit right into the scene. He hurried to join any interested viewers, excited to share the story of the piece before them. His enthusiasm illustrates the vibe of the gallery and the type of genuine enthusiasm about experimentation in the arts that antena promotes. In the spirit of Cortez’s space, everyone excitedly engages with the art before them and shares ideas about new projects and events.

Black and Nudd have successfully created an environment in which the fanciful and bizarre both find a comfortable retreat. But while the installation provides an interesting aesthetic challenge, the art maintains itself at a certain relational distance from the observer. There is limited potential for breaking the ice between the fluidity of human emotion and the explicit absurdity of the images. That said, if you find yourself having a weird day, this exhibit will be thoroughly engaging, even refreshing.

antena gallery, 1765 S. Laflin St. Through March 21. Saturday, noon-5pm or by appointment. (773)344-1940.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Pour Rubber

"The Pour Rubber"
Individual & Collaborative Works by Paul Nudd & Nick Black

Opening Friday February 20, from 6pm-10pm
February 20 - March 21, 2009

The Pour Rubber is... Black Nudd - Smoldering Heads - ThunderCRUSTS - Two Rerouted Thrift Store Fog Machines - Black Blisters - Feb-lloweenies - Oozing Pour Rubber - Inflatable Heads - Open Rivers of Primal Muck - Werewolves in Pilsen - Double Tongues - Black Bush Cream - Canned Crusts - (((Wonky Thunderstick SOUND))) - Bathroom Glowballs - Double Deer Head Karaoke - Inflatable Godhead & Hair Gel Fountains - An Orgy of Mutant Toys - Melted Fun - Hyperactivity - Skunk Apes - Murky Streams of Ripened Sludge - Gallons of Sticky Fog Juice - Black Pig, Dog & Ape Tongues - Seven Heads & Headstones - Misc. Black Salves, Creams, Balms & Chutneys - Black Bush Pus - Rubber Masks in Black - Hard Black Great Stuff - Pour Rubber Molten Flesh - (((BLACK NUDD : NUDD SOUND))) - Thunderlusts - Warm, Slimy Cakes of Fake Rare Meat - Cave of the Mounds - Forty Black Dog & Donkey Tongues in Sticky Sweet Creams - KlusterLUSTS - Oceans of Dried Rubber - Black Fun Furs & Clays - Old Crusted Wigs and Loose Black Curly-Q's - Modern Art - Weeping Death Heads - Portraits of the Doomed - Rubber Blubber

Keith Herzik poster and Michael Bulka writing available.


"Beneath the Human Soul There Runs a River of Sludge: An Exhibition of Anonymous Children's Drawings from the Collection of Paul Nudd"

Nick Black was born in Chicago in 1958. He has attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Massachusetts College of Art. Recent exhibitions include Byron Cohen Gallery, Kansas City, Uncle Freddy's Gallery, Highland, IN, and Joymore, Buddy Space, and Klein Art Works, all in Chicago. Nick has had key works at Art Chicago, the Stray Show, Version Fest, and the New Chicagoans.

Paul Nudd was born in Harpenden, England in 1976. He graduated in 2001 with an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recent exhibitions include Jack the Pelican Presents, Brooklyn, Western Exhibitions, Chicago and the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago.

1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608
antenapilsen (at)
Saturdays noon-5pm or by appointment

Thursday, January 22, 2009

article by Daniel Tucker

Critical Culture in Chicago – Article #2: Groups and Spaces

by Daniel Tucker

Hey Obamacrats! Lets learn about Chicago!

Since the time of my first article in this series on social/political art in Chicago, the whole world has had an introduction to this city through the lens of Barack Obama – who adopted the city as his hometown 20 years ago. What this event means for the world is yet to be seen. What this event means for Chicago is that the local culture and politics are going to come under greater scrutiny and more people are going to be trying to learn about and be introduced to this city.

The extraordinary amount of cultural production in Chicago wasn’t missed by Obama in his time in the city – he was actually on a foundation board (the Woods Fund) that gave out grants to community organizers and socially engaged art.

Visitors observations of artistic practice in Chicago consistently cite an extreme commitment and openness to collaboration. It could be that this derrives from some lack of pretention or commitment to egalitarian living. It could also be a pragmatic response to scarity of resources for cultural work. Regardless of the root cause, the city is undoubtedly ripe with art collectives and small collaborative initiatives. Interestingly, a number of those groups actually run cultural spaces or venues. Both the groups and the spaces will be discussed here, in an attemp to give an international audience a sense of the range of practices coexisting in this newly founded Obamaland.

One key art group HAHA began in 1988, initiated by Wendy Jacob, John Ploof and Laurie Palmer. Their twenty year long practice shifted focus regularly from the highly local and public to whimsical works made for galleries and museums throughout Europe and the U.S. Their forms ranged from Flood - a storefront community center on the north side of the city where vegetables for AIDS patients were grown and distributed, to a rooftop advertising unit on a taxi cab which could be programmed with site-specific text messages controlled by a GPS unit. Their approach to community, participation and pedagogy has had a strong influence on the local art scene, not least of which on the group Temporary Services (TS) directed by Brett Bloom, Salem Collo-Julin and Marc Fischer. TS has strongly defined the field of collaborative art in the city, with over ten years of public work, self-publishing and the facilitation of at least three different venues for presenting the work of other artists. TS’s work about ecology and economy has had a clear influence on collectives like Material Exchange, JAM, People Powered and InCUBATE. Their approach has made the nature and style of collaboration their material and subject matter with a number of projects literally dealing with how groups work together – most notably in their recent book simply entitled “Group Work.” As a group they have collaborated closely with other artists like Brendan McGaffey, Melinda Fries of and the couple duo Rob Kelly and Zena Sakowski aka The Biggest Fags Ever – sometimes leading to the renaming of a super-group known as the Biggest Temporary Gang Ever!

TS maintains, a virtual platform for documenting collaborative art practice and has initiated a venue for forming new collaborative relationships known as Mess Hall – another storefront on the north side of the city just blocks away from where HAHA produced Flood in the mid 1990s. Five years later Mess Hall has minimal involvement from the original TS members and is run by a group of “keyholders” who are responsible for maintaining and coordinating the space’s weekly free events ranging from yoga to sewing workshops to reading groups and lectures by traveling activists and thinkers.

Other groups running venues in the city include the artist-run bookstores Golden Age and No Coast, both in the southern Pilsen neighborhood. Just down the street is Antena, the project space of Miguel Cortez and the Polvo collective who have also run magazines and galleries together for ten years.

Publishing and the administration of venues seem to go hand in hand. Three other important spaces – the Green Lantern Gallery, ThreeWalls residency and gallery, and the Co-Prosperity Sphere all publish their own magazines and pamphlets. All three venues are committed to educational festivals, seminars and workshops. They have also been committed individually and collaboratively to cataloging the proliferation of “alternative spaces”, non-commercial galleries and the ubiqutous apartment galleries that Chicago is known for. One important apartment gallery to collaborate with nearly everyone mentioned in this series is Vonzwek, founded by Philip Vonzwek in 2005.

Fortunately the city boasts several theoretically oriented group learning projects, including ARC109, Finding Our Roots, Freedom School Communiversity, Chicago Political Workshop/49th st. Underground, the Midwest Radical Cultural Cooridor, Platypus and FeelTank. The latter three have strong commitments to considering the intersections of art and politics. All of the projects have significant, though unofficial, connections through their membership to local universities – leaving the significant challenge of making rigerous educational projects trancend the academy partially unresolved. Their contribution to the intellectual and theoretical development of the city’s self-identified political artists is hugely important.

The city has a rich theater tradition exemplified in the 200 producing neighborhood based theaters, forming an impressive constallation of hyper-local live entertainment within walking distance of peoples homes. David Issacson of Theater Oobleck has said “it is a point of pride that Chicago does political theater.” The theater scene is divided from the visual arts community, which is unfortunate because their physical infrastructure of venues could easily facilitate collaboration with other disciplines, serving as a home to multi-use activities of other artists and activists operating without a stable home.

There are a number of performance troupes blurring the lines between visual and performing arts with their art actions including Lucky Pierre, Chicago County Fair, the Neofuturists, and the now defunct Goat Island. Groups like the Drag Kings and Teatro Luna put gender politics on the stage, while the FeFees, Young Women’s Action Team and the now defunct Pink Bloque took them to the streets.

Public art groups like CAFF Collective, You Are Beautiful and Anti Gravity Surprise ask people to participate in the production of their own public space. Similarly, the youth-centered art groups Cooperative Image Group, University of Hip Hop and Kuumba Lynx all blend street art and graffiti in public space with Pedagogy of the Oppressed inspired educational and political work.

This city is indeed ripe with collaborative and social art and venues that faciliate its presentation and evolution. Without being able to pinpoint the source or motives for this, it is undoubtedly a virtue and a feature which makes working here easier and more sustainable for those interested in cultivating an artistic practice which can hope to transcend the logic of the commodity.

My previous article in this series dealt with the local history which preceeded these examples of groups and spaces. The next article will deal with the institutions both large and small, which hold the city’s culture together, or in some cases which keep it from evolving.

Daniel Tucker is the editor of AREAChicago ( For more information see