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Claremonter returns from Argentinian art pilgrimage

Claremont native and professional artist Antrese Wood set off on a mission in the summer of 2012 to travel to each of Argentina’s 23 provinces, painting the people and the places along the way.  
It was to be an eight-month adventure, an expedition that would meld her artistic talents with her love of travel and allow her to showcase the splendor of her newly-adopted country of Argentina where she now resides with her husband, Jorge.
“I want to paint the country as it is, to remove the tourist lens, the clouded glass through which we see others,” she told the COURIER in June 2012. “I want to eliminate the preconceptions we generate of another country when we view it through a filter of our own.”
True to her word, Ms. Wood did just that. A Portrait of Argentina: Paintings and Photographs from an Epic Journey from the Jungles to the Glaciers” is Ms. Wood’s latest art series, scheduled for unveiling Saturday, March 7 at The dA Center for the Arts in Pomona.
Employing oils and watercolors, Ms. Wood’s most ambitious series yet is a moving portrait of cathedral-like, ever-changing skies; people working in cities and on farms; tiny cafes; Carnaval; processions to honor the Virgin; sheep in fields; gauchos on horseback; even penguins trekking across the land.
“For me, painting these images really allowed me to see the place…to slow down and watch,” she says. “When I look at a painting or a photograph, I will remember the moment a guy honked his horn at me or when I got bit by a mosquito.”
The nearly two-year journey was made possible by a funding campaign on Kickstarter which raised over $25,000 for the artist, funding her entire trip. Equipped with her art supplies and camera, Ms. Wood loaded up her 2002 Toyota Corolla and began her epic road trip through Argentina.
“The country is way bigger than I anticipated and the infrastructure isn’t the same as the US,” Ms. Wood says of traveling through Argentina. “The US has many highways; there’s really only one major one in all of Argentina. Route 40 takes you from Bolivia to Ushuaia. There are a lot of portions of the country that aren’t paved. You really have to plot out your trip.”
“I decided I’d do the easy stuff first, thinking that down the road my husband could close up shop and come with me,” she says. “Then I started to realize how remote things are. I’d get to these tiny towns and start calling around for a place to stay for 4-5 days and they’d always ask, ‘Where’s your husband?’ Women just don’t really travel by themselves.”
She traveled to a few more towns on her own before enlisting her husband on the remainder of her Argentine adventure. The couple faced many challenges along the way: floods, snow and ice, running out of gas, political unrest and rioting and thieves breaking into their car.
“There’s supportive husbands out there and then there’s bend-over-backwards husbands like Jorge…I feel really lucky for that,” she says with a giggle.
The expedition yielded over 30,000 photos and Ms. Wood painted nearly 400 landscapes and portraits throughout her travels, a portion of which will be on display at The dA Center for the Arts. 150 of those were sent out to people as reward for those contributing to the Kickstarter campaign.
To her disappointment, Ms. Wood didn’t make it to all 23 provinces just yet. Still, she is grateful for the opportunity and insight the country and its people have given her thus far.
“Getting to really understand where my husband comes from on a different level was the biggest reward from this adventure,” says Ms. Wood. “Seeing how these people live off nothing. Argentina is really a country of MacGyvers. They make stuff out of nothing in the most amazing way!”
Experience Argentina through the eyes of the artist and hear Ms. Wood’s story of her epic 3,000-miles painting expedition at an artist reception this Saturday, March 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The dA Center for the Arts located at 252-D S. Main Street, Pomona Arts Colony.
“A Portrait of Argentina: Paintings and Photographs from an Epic Journey from the Jungles to the Glacier” opens on this Saturday and runs through March 28. For more information, call (909) 397-9716.
For more information on the artist, visit www.antrese.net.
—Angela Bailey
news@claremont-courier.com