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Top photo: "Up 4, 1000 Mesa" by Juan Angel Chavez
Bottom photo: "Vannilla" by Michael Genovese

UTSA hosts 'Sign Language' exhibit through Aug. 25

(July 17, 2008)--The UTSA Downtown Art Gallery and Unit B Gallery will present the exhibit, "Sign Language," featuring new works by Chicago artists Juan Angel Chavez and Michael Genovese. Works will be exhibited at both galleries during Contemporary Art Month at the UTSA Downtown Art Gallery through Aug. 25 and the Unit B Gallery from July 18 to Sept. 5. The exhibits are curated by Kimberly Aubuchon.

Chavez and Genovese are non-degree holding artists and old friends who started making their art on the streets of Chicago doing "non-permission" collaborative works -- creating a graffiti-like sign language. Forming their ideas from found materials and street vendors, among other sources, the artists generate works as a result of experiencing what is in front of them.

Juan Angel Chavez is a multimedia artist whose work comes from obtaining and reconstructing things he finds. He gathers his art supplies from areas of the city that are deteriorating, finding objects with personality and history that describe our cultural make-up. The works are realized in large-scale sculptures, tableaux, collages, installations and public works that observe the natural and man-made and offer visual commentaries on the past and present.

Chavez was born in La Junta, Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1971 and now lives and works in Chicago. He studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at Bucket Rider Gallery, Chicago; Rhys Gallery, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Mexican Fine Art Center Museum, Chicago; and Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. His public commissions can be seen at The Toman Branch Library, Chicago; The Whipple Home in Lake Forest, Ill.; The Chicago Park District and Chicago Transit Authority, among other Chicago-area locations.

Michael Genovese is a sign painter who believes that traditional sign painting is a living language, much like graffiti, and that hand-painted signs are a world apart from the printed signs that so often clutter city streets. As a service, he likes to give back. He paints signs on local street vendors' food carts in exchange for a hot dog or a fruit cup. In his recent works, old-fashioned sign-making traditions come to life in large, hand-painted festive signs and aluminum engravings.

Genovese was born in 1976 in Chicago, where he currently lives and works. His recent solo shows include "Just Cause It's Legal Doesn't Make It Right" at Jack the Pelican, Brooklyn, N.Y.; "We All We Got" at Packer Schopf, Chicago; and "Cabesa de Gato" at Norse Projects, Copenhagen, Denmark. His recent group exhibitions include, "Dark Matter at Co-Prosperity, Version 8" in Chicago; "Fusiform? at Rhys Gallery, Boston; and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" at the Chicago Cultural Center. He recently completed residencies at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Chicago Cultural Center and at Co-Habitat in Monterrey, Mexico. His public collaborations can be seen in Chicago, Milwaukee, Boston and other cities.

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UTSA Downtown Art Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and by appointment, at 501 W. Durango Blvd.

Unit B Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m., Saturday, and by appointment. An opening reception, free and open to the public, is 6:30-10 p.m., Friday, July 18 at 500 Stieren St. (at Cedar Street).

For more information, contact Arturo Almeida, UTSA Art Collection curator, at (210) 458-4983.

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