Your art-filled weekend: Expo Chicago and more
Chicago's big art weekend is upon us. The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, aka Expo Chicago, returns to Navy Pier's Festival Hall this evening with Vernissage (6–9pm)—a lavish opening-night gala benefitting the Museum of Contemporary Art—and continues through Sunday, Sept 22. The Tony Karman–helmed Expo intends to expand on last year's success with an ongoing emphasis on collaboration, partnerships, site-specific work and design (Jeanne Gang once again conceived the interior, grid-like layout and oversize mylar cones).
It also maintains its size, with around 125 international galleries and 20 special exhibtions, compared to mega-fairs such as Art Basel Miami (more in the ballpark of 250 exhibitors). "I’m glad they’ve been so stringent about keeping the number of galleries small, because I think that’s been a downfall of some recent fairs in other cities,” MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling told me last year, in advance of the inaugural Expo Chicago. “There’s just too much, and the quality often tends to suffer.”
This year, we're especially looking forward to the Dialogues series, presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute, which features Michelle Grabner discussing her work with artist Gaylen Gerber, Cleveland MOCA curator David Nora and the Cleveland Museum of Art's Reto Thuring (Sept 20 at 12:30pm); a convo about art criticism on the web with panelists Paddy Johnson (Art F City), Josh Baer (The Baer Faxt), Forrest Nash (Contemporary Art Daily) and moderators Richard Holland and Duncan MacKenzie of Bad at Sports (Sept 20 at 2pm); a panel with Solveig Øvstebø of the Renaissance Society, artist William Powhida and gallery owner/director Charlie James (Sept 21 at 12:30pm) and much more. And don't miss EXPO VIDEO—a selection of film, video and new media works curated by the Walker Art Center's Dean Otto—which will be situated in the hall this year. ("Last year, no one could find it," explains Expo publicist Mia Di Meo.) The second annual art fair opens at 11am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; entry is $20 for one day and $30 for three.
But Expo Chicago's not all that's going on this weekend. There's a lot happening, art-wise—in tandem, in conjunction, as a satellite event or however else organizers convey "happening simultaneously but not, like, competitively"—including Gallery Weekend Chicago, a Wesley Willis exhibition presented by Project Onward, plus two more fairs:
Fountain Art Fair Organized by a Brooklyn-based company and featuring avant-garde art, Fountain is an alternative fair focusing on smaller independent galleries, artists and collectives. If the Expo's the overachieving, buttoned-up elder sibling, Fountain's the more casual, uninhibited kid sister. The Friday preview benefits the endangered Detroit Institute for the Arts, Detroit's Adult. performs Saturday and be sure to check out the performance art series TUYAU, curated by Meredith Weber, co-director of the Happy Collaborationists. Mana Contemporary. Sept 20, noon–7pm, VIP/press preview; 7pm–midnight, opening reception. $10 daily; $15 weekend pass; $50 VIP.
EDITION Chicago In the past few years, the newly refreshed and improved Chicago Artists Coalition has proven its value to the city's arts community. What was once viewed as a somewhat out-of-touch arts group for hobbyist painters and the like is now, under new leadership, an innovative, multipronged organization dedicated to building a sustainable marketplace for Chicago artists. To further its mission, CAC hosts the inaugural EDITION Chicago, a satellite art fair during Expo weekend. Its aim is to cultivate a new audience of collectors in Chicago by offering contemporary art at affordable prices (in other words, pieces you don't have to be Jay Z to buy). Exhibiting galleries include dealers from Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto and Bloomington, Indiana. A limited-edition print by Chicago-based artist Cody Hudson will be available on-site. Chicago Artists Coalition. Sept 20 & 21, noon–7pm; Sept 20, noon–6pm. $10 suggested donation.