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November 16, 2004

Art Chicago Lives: or Location, location, location

This art fair business is officially getting interesting again.

Having settled a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against them by McPier, Thomas Blackman Associates has announced a date and location for Art Chicago 2005. The future of the Stray Show remains in doubt.

If you'll recall, Blackman's renewed fair will be held under a 125,000-square-foot tent (as it had been in its formative years). They've now found a place to pitch it, and I've gotta say I like the location: Grant Park's Butler Field, just east of the Art Institute and kitty-corner with Millennium Park.


Recall also that TBA had hoped to move the fair to mid-summer so as to avoid running against the spring auction season out east and various shows abroad. Butler Field, however, was unavailable then and so the coming installment will again be held in the spring, April 29–May 2—a mere week before Pfingsten Publishing's competing Chicago Contemporary & Classic fair that is taking over Art Chicago's old spot at Navy Pier, May 6–9.

SOFA ran its stint at the pier earlier this month, so I'd imagine it's only a matter of time before we learn whether or not Mark Lyman and his crew will now follow through with their plans for a third fair, bringing us the red-hot, Leone-style showdown we've been promised. Might I suggest the weekend of May 13–16?

The big question regarding Art Chicago is whether moving it off of the pier will be enough to revive what has become a struggling enterprise as of late. Blackman is quoted in today's Sun-Times:

"The fair needs to be reinvented from time to time to make it new and exciting, and this is an exceptional opportunity for us to do that again," Blackman said of the new venue, which will be similar to that of Art Chicago's first two years. "People remember the original shows we did in 1993 and '94, and they remember what a great setting it can be."

And yet it seems that there are no drastic changes in the works:

"We're planning on doing the show that people have been most familiar with for years in Chicago," Blackman said.

I'd imagine, though, that this is mostly an attempt to reassure vis a vis Pfingsten's rush towards the second tier.

(Little more at the Trib.)

At any rate... let the jockeying for exhibitors begin.

"Art Chicago Lives: or Location, location, location"
Posted by Dan at 10:37 AM


Referenced in this post:

Art Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago Park District: Grant Park
Chicago Sun-Times: Art Chicago to raise its tent in Butler Field for 2005—Kevin Nance
Chicago Tribune: Art Chicago announces new venue, dates
Iconoduel: A Discouraging Art Fair Digest
Iconoduel: Alan Artner is Making Sense, and other art fair business I've missed
Iconoduel: Art Chicago Back Under the Big Top in '05
Iconoduel: Art Fairs a Go-Go
Iconoduel: Three Fairs for Chicago
Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo
Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
Millennium Park
Stray Show