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

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