Remembering Victoria Henshaw

I’m saddened to learn that urban planner and smell enthusiast Victoria Henshaw passed away last month. The multisensory emphasis of GARLIC & GREENS project and my artistic explorations of place and walking share many intersections with Victoria’s research. After years of working in town management, Victoria pursued design research focused on encouraging urban planners to recognize the value of the smell in the urban landscape. Victoria advocated for the need to preserve and protect the smells of the city, both pleasant and pungent.  I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria in Edinburgh in December 2011 after she gave a presentation at a conference we were both attending called “Sensory Worlds: Environment, Value and the Multi-Sensory”.


St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh, December 2011

I remember being very inspired by Victoria’s talk, but also touched by the fact that she followed up with me after the conference, emailing a personal note with links to some books we had discussed.

For long time I have had the idea to make a smell map of Chicago: something like the work of designer Kate McLean mashed up with Jesse Seay’s Favorite Chicago Sounds. The project would document iconic Chicago smells, like the scent of the river after a sewage overflow event, or more pleasant odors like the Blommer’s chocolate factory (which now has its own tumblr page).

Who is going to take up the important work Victoria was doing to highlight the invisible and under appreciated aspects of the urban landscape? It seems there is a renewed urgency for me to work on a “Favorite Chicago Smells” map, and a nudge to continue the walking based performance projects that I started last winter. Thank you Victoria, for the inspiration and guidance. We’re going to miss you.

Here’s an interview that was published in Edible Geography: and here’s Victoria’s obituary in the Guardian newspaper from last month:

exciting new project

We here at GARLIC & GREENS are really looking forward to a new year-long collaborative project called FULTONIA, celebrating the legacy of Dr. Alvenia Fulton, a naturopathic healer who worked from a storefront at W. 63rd and Damen in Chicago until her passing in 1999. Most famously, Dr. Fulton wrote the forward to Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ with Mother Naturenatural diet
You can experience the Fultonia project in several ways. Sign up to attend vegetarian dinners, lead a bike ride, or contribute stories to an oral history archive about Dr. Fulton. We hope to see you there!

In the meantime, here’s a short introduction to Dr. Fulton’s work from Frederick Douglass Opie:


Do not open until 2021

new jar of Iranian garlic pickles

Newly canned jar of Iranian garlic pickles from the gallery installation. Photo by Jori Remus.

Happy new year everyone! Last week as part of the RISK exhibition, Columbia College Chicago’s office of Asian American Cultural Affairs hosted a special edition of their “Food for Thought” series in partnership with GARLIC & GREENS. Lunch guests were treated to Iranian food from Chicago restaurant Noon-o-Kabab and they learned about the new year celebration of Norooz, which falls on the vernal equinox. In the Zoroastrian tradition, a festive table spread called “haft-seen” is laid out with seven objects beginning with the letter “seen” and symbolizing the return of new life in spring. One of these items is often garlic, called “seer” in the Persian language. Pickled garlic (“torshi-eh seer”), is also known as Seven-Year Pickle because it is best eaten after being aged several years. Sometimes people start a jar on a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, and some of the finest pickles have been kept for decades. I have displayed some freshly packed jars of garlic in the gallery, and they are available for free to anyone who would like to have one, while supplies last! Just contact soulfoodstories-at-gmail to request your jar. The jars are labeled “Do not open until 2021″ with the hope that people who take the jars home might be reunited in 7 years’ time for a pickle-tasting party. There are ways to cheat and accelerate the pickling process, but most Iranians agree that the older the garlic, the better the taste!

Image of Iranian pickles - seer-eh torshi

This image shows two types of Persian pickles, also known as “torshi”. Aged garlic pickles (on the right) turn dark and soft after being preserved for many years. The sharp garlic flavor mellows to a caramelized sweetness.


gallery exhibit opens February 13th

Here’s an update about the 3 components of my installation at the RISK exhibit. The opening reception is Thursday February 13 from 5:30 – 8:30pm and the exhibit runs from February 10 – April 26, 2014 at the Glass Curtain Gallery, 1104 S. Wabash in downtown Chicago.

1) Anxiety Garden: Financial Crisis Mycoremediation
This piece features oyster mushrooms decomposing books that represent the anxieties of the global financial crisis, including financial guides about risk management, texts authored by Chicago School economists like George Stigler, and books by and about the figureheads of neoliberalism, such as Margaret Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping.

2) Anxiety Garden: Do not open until 2021
This piece features jars of Iranian pickled garlic (torshi-eh seer), also known as Seven-Year Pickle because it is best eaten after being aged several years. This is not a heat-pasteurized or traditional salt brine ferment, and as such it may be considered risky by professional food safety standards. Chicago health code prohibits commercial kitchens to do their own canning without special permission to do “Modified Atmosphere Packaging”, requiring a course in “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points”. However, traditional folk methods usually do not follow these types of stringent procedures. For generations Iranians have pickled all sorts of vegetables in large clay pots which were stored in cellars to age. Please email if you would like to take home one of the jars of pickles at the end of the exhibit.

To learn more, join Columbia College Chicago’s office of Asian American Cultural Affairs for Food for Thought: Operation Pickle, at the Glass Curtain Gallery on the first floor of 1104 S Wabash Ave. Try food from Iran and learn about the traditional Persian new year, Norooz, which falls on the vernal equinox. In the Zoroastrian tradition, a celebratory table spread called “haft-seen” is laid out with seven objects symbolizing the return of new life in spring. Come to the gallery to learn more about one of these items which happens to be garlic. Seating is limited, RSVP to

3) Anxiety Garden at the Green Art + Social Practice (GASP) Fair
The first ever Green Art + Social Practice (GASP) Fair is seeking proposals for student work to be exhibited during a pop-up art and science fair at Columbia College from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm on Friday, April 25, 2014. The GASP Fair takes the notion of a traditional poster session and combines it with the strategies of social practice, using participatory engagement to explore the diverse intersections of art, science, and the humanities. To apply, contact

In addition to acting as the faculty organizer for the GASP Fair, I’m starting seeds indoors to be transplanted to the Papermakers’ Garden at 8th and Wabash. The garden bed will be used to grow powerful medicinal plants that are used to treat anxiety. To learn more, join me for Heritage Tea Time from 12:30-1:30 on Monday March 10 to try some anxiety tea and heritage and heirloom foods like benne wafers.

Fresh start for 2014

Happy new year everyone!
seerChicago ushered in the new year with a dramatic polar vortex. Winter hibernation has been a time for brewing, fermenting, and fruiting mushrooms in preparation for a new chapter of GARLIC & GREENS. G&G will be featured in an exhibit about social practice at Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery in the South Loop. GARLIC & GREENS: Anxiety Garden will focus on the therapeutic properties of gardening for self-care and medicine, while also addressing the political anxieties of contemporary culture. For this exhibit G&G will highlight traditional Persian pickled garlic, oyster mushrooms from recycled waste materials, and herbal remedies you can grow in your home garden. Stay tuned for updates!

The opening reception is February 13 from 5:30 – 8:30pm and the exhibit runs from February 10 – April 26, 2014. For more information go to:,-art-and-social-practice/index.php

fall update

GARLIC & GREENS has been busy with urban agriculture tours and farm dinners hosted by Rooting, which had its closing reception and symposium this past weekend.

We are also thrilled to let you know that the Shoebox Lunch project was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune! You can read the full article on-line at this link:



Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns

“Shoebox Lunch” is currently featured in Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns, a symposium and exhibition highlighting projects by artists, cultural workers, radical chefs, rural and urban farmers, and small businesses spotlighting creative responses to the extreme environmental, social and economic changes facing local and global communities with a focus on the Chicago, New Delhi, and other regions in India. To find out more, visit the exhibit which is up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries until October 13.

Shoebox Lunch Launch

Last week marked the “Shoebox Lunch” launch event, introducing the completed book-in-a-box to the public.

One of the featured speakers in the documentary is Marcus, pictured below with a couple of friends, Chakeyda and Lily, holding their complimentary copies of Shoebox Lunch.


From left to right: Chakeyda, Lily, Fereshteh, and Marcus at the Shoebox Lunch Launch event.

Copies of the book are still available but quantities are limited, so do be in touch if you’d like one. All purchases will allow the project to be shared for free with people who are low or no vision.

It was a great joy to celebrate with a wonderful, supportive community of friends and supporters! Thanks so much to everyone who made it out to this event.

Many thanks also to Archeworks, Spontaneous Interventions, the Global Alliance of Artists Environment Xchange, and Majani Catering for their participation in this event!

Gratitude for chickens

photograph of chickens at Prairie Crossing Learning FarmOne of the objects featured in the Shoebox Lunch book is a chicken feather. It’s been a few months since we received our feathers, and we’d like take a moment to thank the chickens and the humans who sent them our way. The feathers were donated by Chicago residents Laura Foley and Carla McGarrah, as well as The Prairie Crossing Learning Farm in Grayslake, Illinois. Laura and Carla both keep chickens at their homes, while Prairie Crossing is a working organic farm that does hands-on education promoting conservation and healthy ecosystems. They have all kinds of classes and workshops and tours for the public; it’s definitely worth a field trip to learn more about this fantastic project.

Our contact at Prairie Crossing, Erin Cummisford, tells us that their feathers came from multiple breeds: Black Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, and Buff Orpingtons. She was kind enough to send a photo of the chickens, which you see above. Some of them were adopted to new homes last fall, others were butchered for food.

photograph of feathers from the Prairie Crossing Chickens

GARLIC & GREENS would not be possible without the support of the people and animals who have contributed to this project. Next time you are out, listen closely for the sounds of birds, insects, and other creatures who make their home in our gardens and farms, and thank them for their service! To get a chicken feather for yourself, order a copy of the book by contacting us at soulfoodstories -at- gmail -dot- com.

envelope from the Shoebox Lunch live event

This is a close-up from the envelope made for each feather featured in the live version of “Shoebox Lunch”.

Shoebox Lunch LIVE

cherry_brandy_labelOn Sunday 9 June at 8:30 PM, GARLIC & GREENS is proud to present a live version of Shoebox Lunch at Chicago’s own Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival. This interactive listening event will take you on a train journey completely in the dark. One by one, you will meet characters telling personal stories about families and food heritage. These memories will be shared with you through sound, touch, taste, and smell.

Attendance is limited to 15 participants, so if you can’t make it, never fear! Please join us later this summer for the official Shoebox Lunch book launch party:
Wednesday 17 July, 2013
6-8 PM
625 N. Kingsbury St.
Chicago, IL 60654
RSVP to Archeworks:

65$+ Kickstarter contributers may pick up their copies at this event, otherwise they will be shipped by mail. Contact us at if you would like to have your very own copy of the Shoebox Lunch book-in-a-box. Quantities are limited. Your purchase will allow us to share the project for free with people who are low or no vision.