Jake Myers rides glacier sculpture
By Jason Foumberg
Did you know that the South Side MDW airport predates ORD? Whatever the metaphor, last weekend’s MDW Fair—the third iteration in two years—was the best it’s been yet and a very promising showing of Chicago’s dynamic creative population. With organizational duties shared among the Public Media Institute (Ed and Rachael Marszewski), Document (Aron Gent’s photo publishing business), Roots and Culture, and ThreeWalls, the fair’s conglomerated energy made me hopeful for the future of this art fair and Chicago’s independent art culture. In total, it was a fun event, and I hesitate getting overly serious about the MDW Fair’s consequences or meanings, even if the success of the fair means serious business for all involved. A few observations and reflections:
MDW Fair trend #1: Affordable art. From the publications tables downstairs, which featured low-cost published multiples and artists’ books, to low-priced prints throughout the fair—prints at $5 to $25 and a large-scale sculpture at $500 (John Harms’ “Kissing Booth”)—participants gladly realized the appropriate economy of scale for this alternative art fair. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Pedro Velez
By Robin Dluzen
“There’s going to be an EXPO Chicago next year, right?” Chicago dealer Linda Warren asked Tony Karman Sunday at Festival Hall, voicing the concern that all of us are harboring. We were discussing how the fair was unfolding, Karman mentioning that he wished more collectors from the greater Midwest region would have come out and talking about the holes he’d like to fill in the future. As Karman spoke about how he was the first to arrive at the fair that morning at 9am to take in his fully realized creation before the final day’s activities commenced, he was the confident marketing machine that was responsible for convincing the amazing architects, dealers and vendors to invest in this first year fair. But as Warren inquired about EXPO 2013, Karman’s pitchman countenance disappeared as he sat down on the floor in front of our bench. With his knees bent, Karman began pulling up the dress socks that had pooled around his ankles and politely asking us to pardon that action before admitting with a sheepish smile, “There had better be a fair next year, or I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.” Read the rest of this entry »
Jerry Saltz and Robin Dluzen (photo by Pedro Velez)
By Robin Dluzen
“Chicago is slow” was the mantra throughout the day on Thursday as hopeful EXPO staff, exhibitors and speakers repeatedly assured attendees that the sparsely populated aisles and red-dot-less walls shouldn’t be judged so quickly. At 10:30am sharp, Jerry Saltz spoke to a bleary-eyed full house at the EXPO Dialogues stage after an introduction by SAIC’s Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Lisa Wainwright. A bundle of nervous energy, Saltz spoke to his Chicago roots and the city to which he flies a few times a year to advise SAIC painting graduate students. “Chicagoans are shy,” explained The People’s Critic, who admitted that though he is not an authority on art fairs, that he’d like to see EXPO Chicago replace the prominence of Art Basel Miami. “Chicagoans move slow and our money moves slow,” he said of Wednesday night’s Vernissage, which many expected to be the time when a majority of the art would be sold. After that, Saltz’s talk went a little wide, starting with an impression of Jeff-Koons-as-Ronald-Reagan before giving his advice to artists and defending the importance of art as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »
By Pedro Velez
During Artforum’s dinner party on Thursday night at The Publican, renowned dealer Christopher D’Amelio told me that for EXPO Chicago to succeed it must attract an army of unidentified collectors from all over the Midwest. At least that’s what everyone is hoping will happen on Saturday and Sunday, since sales were kind of slow on opening night. After all, what does it mean when the biggest art brokers at the Vernissage were art critic Jerry Saltz and the mayor of Chicago, and not Mr. Cash?
Lauren Adams’ agitprop installation “We the People” (detail) in which she fuses slogans by the Tea Party and Occupy movements to create an anachronistic view of American politics
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By Robin Dluzen
“It feels like the old times,” former Chicago art dealer Melanee Cooper told me last night at EXPO’s Vernissage, “but it feels fresh at the same time”—a sentiment I heard echoed almost word-for-word throughout the opening night. In many opinions, Tony Karman and his fair have already succeeded on a number of fronts: EXPO’s Studio Gang interior is beautiful, the art is amazing, the food rocks and the people came. The galleries, many of whom haven’t been to Chicago in years, decades or even ever, brought with them the best of what they have.
The press rolled into Vernissage around 3pm, followed at 4pm by the “patrons” at $400-$600 a ticket, and while the aisles felt rather empty for the first few hours, I was repeatedly assured that the folks with money indeed were here, and presumably the money and art were changing hands. Some EXPO dealers were happy to announce sales in these early hours, like Chicago’s Corbett vs. Dempsey; some were optimistic about the feedback, like The Green Gallery from Milwaukee (in the fair’s Exposure section for emerging galleries); while a few other out-of-towners seemed less confident. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been some time since Chicago was a major player on the international art fair scene. First the International Art Exposition and, later, Art Chicago, were standard-setters in the eighties and nineties, though as Art Chicago moved out of its longtime home in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, a gradual decline led to its cancellation, under the name Next Art Chicago, earlier this year. EXPO Chicago, the product of longtime Art Chicago administrator Tony Karman, is now attempting to tap some of Art Chicago’s early prestige with a return to Navy Pier and a set-up that is, as Karman says, “respectful to the work that’s put in it.”
“Festival Hall at Navy Pier was built in large part because the art fair meant so much there was no way they could replace it,” says Karman. “So with that as a foundation there’s a way to tap a bit of nostalgia and to put a new varnish on what an art fair or an art exhibition looks like for 2012 and beyond.” Studio Gang, the architecture and design studio of MacArthur “genius grant”–winner Jeanne Gang, has designed an interior for the festival that is modeled off of the city’s urban grid, with the 120 booths of participating galleries bisected by walkways and a wide diagonal “avenue.” Karman says that capping dealers and galleries at 120 was done to maintain “quality over quantity” and prevent EXPO from turning into a mega-fair. Read the rest of this entry »
Spinoza and Heidegger made similar points, illustrated with a hatchet and a hammer respectively, that a tool, subsumed in its utility, only truly becomes an object when broken—as do, by implication, our brains and bodies. At the end of Peter Greenaway’s 1985 film “A Zed And Two Noughts,” twin veterinarians obsessed with making time-lapse films of decaying animal corpses finally euthanize themselves before their automated camera—which ceases to function when the room is overrun with snails attracted to the rot. The malfunction, the glitch, breaches the thin line between the ideal, virtual form or function, and the electrified molecules comprising its material substance—and thus, new forms and functions arise. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s an eclectic good time,” says Charlie Rees, a member of the Flat Iron Artists’ Association (FIAA) and an organizer for this year’s Coyote Art Festival. In its second year, Coyote will bring more than 140 artists of everything from music to poetry to visual arts to Chicago’s Near Northwest Side.
Wicker Park/Bucktown used to be the home to the Around the Coyote festival and arts organization, which would draw thousands of visitors yearly for a weekend festival in September. The organization eventually chose to leave their home neighborhood and hold a more curated event, but shortly after making the change both organization and festival disappeared. A few years later, the FIAA decided to start their festival borrowing the Coyote name, one that returned to the original idea of a neighborhood-based, uncurated event. Read the rest of this entry »
Ryan Duggan at Johalla Projects
By Damien James
“It’s the same old shit punctuated by happiness and tragedy,” read Ryan Duggan’s screenprint for Johalla Projects, a statement that aptly encapsulated 2011’s Artropolis. That happiness is the piece causing you to gape in wonder, the rare work you can’t tear your eyes from, while the tragedy is everything else on display, reiterating the fact that you can show art wherever you want if you’ve got the money.
What’s been true of Artropolis in the past still stands: NEXT continues to excite more than Art Chicago; people-watching is worth the price of admission; and the entire fair is becoming smaller, evidenced by joint tenancy on the twelfth floor of both NEXT and Art Chicago, which only sharpens your focus to the difference between the two. The energy of NEXT is undeniable, where art spreads itself across more forms; it rolls, spins records, hacks itself to pieces, stretches across rooms, flashes and sings at you, and even makes you want to take a bite out of it. Art Chicago, on the other hand, exists mostly in squares and rectangles on white walls.
Not that Art Chicago is bereft of enjoyment, though if you pulled the Ed Paschke’s down the overall temperature would’ve grown tepid. All of the Shepard Fairey’s sold, which makes Santa Monica’s Robert Berman Gallery the big winner, but Hammer Gallery stood up for Chicago by releasing a $75,000 Roger Brown painting into the world, along with a lovely Karl Wirsum. Carl Hammer himself said that the weekend was moving slower than in past years, but that he was pleased with how his space came together. If I had Chris Ware and Henry Darger on my walls, I’d be pleased too. Read the rest of this entry »
photo by Marian Frost
By Laura Fox
In a day and a half in Bridgeport last weekend, connections both professional and personal formed between local art groups and artists. The catalyst was the new MDW Fair.
The fair’s genesis itself is a bit of a feat in community-building. In February, Ed Marszewski, the founder of The Co-Prosperity Sphere, Version festival and Public Media Institute, asked threewalls and Roots and Culture if they wanted to help host an art fair focused on Chicago artists and art organizations. In two months and with less than $10,000, the three partners recruited sixty-plus exhibitors to fill 25,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Geolofts warehouse, plus a separate sculpture garden. Read the rest of this entry »