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March 23, 2005

Working Up a Head of Steam

Two and a half weeks ago found me dragging my tanned and peeling ass back to sunny Chicago for what has turned into a minor stint of internet hibernation.

I suppose that, now that every ounce of melanin in me has withered and died, it's about time to shake off the tropical sand. As if by way of help in this regard, the first day of spring, in the wake of a week of snow and rain, brought with it a pair of swollen tonsils alongside a fascinating array of other ear, nose and throat ailments. Yet, even as I sit here swabbing my nostrils and hacking up all sorts of surprising crud, I soldier on... on account of I care so damned much.

In any case, where else to begin but with a belated art fair update (in a post I'd meant to write a week and a half ago)?

With the fairs less than a month and a half off (signaled as it were by a recent post-Armory press release from Art Chicago), it's time to check in again with all the latest developments.

So... into the home stretch...

The Park vs the Pier: the Participants Revealed

For starters, and jumping in where we left off, both Chicago Contemporary & Classic and Art Chicago have finally posted exhibitor lists. While both lists are continually updating, as of Sunday CC&C boasted 58 exhibitors hailing from 31 different cities, eleven countries and three continents (plus the Netherlands Antilles). Eight of these outfits are from Chicago, including antiques dealer Rita Bucheit. Of the seven local art galleries CC&C has lined up, only four—Carrie Secrist, Aldo Castillo, Belloc Lowndes and Marx-Saunders—are devoted primarily or exclusively to contemporary work (with Belloc Lowndes focused on British work, Castillo on Latin American and Marx-Saunders devoted strictly to contemporary glass).

Art Chicago lists 85 exhibitors, including 20 local galleries. Of these, 13 focus primarily or exclusively on contemporary art: Roy Boyd, Lisa Boyle, Bucket Rider, Catherine Edelman, gescheidle, Van Harrison, Marx-Saunders, Ann Nathan, Perimeter, Carrie Secrist, Linda Warren, Western Exhibitions and Zg. On the whole, Art Chicago exhibitors represent 39 cities from ten countries on four continents.

You might notice from just these lists some galleries pulling double duty. In fact, by my count there are ten galleries participating in both fairs, including four of the seven local galleries signed up with CC&C. Robert Henry Adams, Marx-Saunders, Richard Norton, Carrie Secrist, Jerald Melberg, Pan American, Praxis, Russeck Gallery, Galeria Trinta and Walker Fine Art will all split their business between the park and the pier.

In CC&C antiques news (if anyone cares at all)... in her February 18 Chicago Reader column Deanna Isaacs reports the departure of auction czar Leslie Hindman (formerly of AntiquesChicago at Navy Pier) from the pier show fold following their last-minute change of dates, the new dates conflicting with a major west coast antiques show (LA?). For whatever it's worth, CC&C also goes up against the Chicago Antiques Fair at the Merchandise Mart.

The Stray Show is Reborn Lakeside

In her column Isaacs also makes note of the genesis of the NOVA Young Art Fair (and, if I'm not mistaken—though there's a very real possibility that I am—her short blurb comprises the only real press coverage of NOVA to date) and then almost offhandedly mentions that "Thomas Blackman will move the Stray Show of emerging galleries, previously held on Kingsbury, to his Art Chicago tent."

The Stray Show may have never been officially dead but the last we heard anything about it we had TBA's Heather Hubbs (who has since moved on to greener pastures with NADA) seeming to suggest its ultimate demise. Or maybe not... but that's how this Chicago reader read it at the time. As of right now, the Stray Show lives on as the Stray Section at Art Chicago, and participants are currently being selected on an invitational basis.

Stray booths will be more expensive this year than in the past, but participants should now enjoy the benefits of visibility alongside the main fair by virtue of both proximate location and inclusion in the Art Chicago catalogue. How much of a benefit this will offer ultimately depends on how the main fair fares (that's the big question, isn't it?), but the Stray Show, which is from what I'm told considerably cheaper than NOVA, still looks to offer the best deal in town dollar-wise.

NOVA Swallows the West Side

For their part, CC&C has buddied up with NOVA for purposes of cross-promotion and shared marketing and ticket sales. NOVA gets to piggyback on CC&C's bonanza of national advertising and CC&C apparently gets to slap their cattle brand on the West Loop, dubbing it the "after-party destination for Chicago Contemporary & Classic." (TBA was also approached by NOVA organizers looking for some sort of similar sponsorship arrangement, but they never bit.)

While the Stray Show finds some sweet real estate in Grant Park, NOVA seems to be banking on working up a party pitch in the West Loop gallery district. Director Michael Workman's vision for the fair has it being a "community-based art event" and, indeed, the NOVA project looks to overtake the neighborhood.

In what appears to be nothing short of a classic pincers movement, NOVA will flank the district with its commercial fair on Fulton at the north and an "artist friendly" space to the south, where Bridge has leased a 5,000 square foot space above the auto shop across Washington from Kavi Gupta's building. Slated for a fall opening, this space—christened the NOVA (Network of Visual Art) Center—is to eventually offer exhibition and performance spaces as well as room for up to four galleries and at least ten artists' studios. During the NOVA fair, however, the space will serve as site for exhibits from individual artists and non-profits. (The Hyde Park Art Center is apparently already lined up with an installation by Rael Salley.)

Lord help us if they ever get a foothold on Morgan.

... and the Commie Peaceniks Get Down on the South Side

Finally, as far as the "genre-bashing" "community-based art event" business goes, NOVA will find a bit of competition in Version>05, a 10 day art summit for the neo-Situationist set culminating on May Day (which, as it should happen, falls right in the middle of the big art fair weekend).

In the midst of its distributed, hybrid festival, Version will feature an art fair/trade show of its own down in Bridgeport:

The Version NFO ART EXPO is a trade show for experimental artists, info agitators and organizers of cultural interference. Alternative spaces are hubs for encouraging little utopias. Art and cultural places will act as laboratories for collaboration and explorations of emerging cultures. Version>05 will be hosting an NFO ART EXPO and space summit. We extend an invitation to members of artist run spaces, alternative institutions, cultural and social spaces, open universities, and individual artists and activists to present their work and mission within a booth or table at the version expo. A space summit will be organized to share stories, strategies and methods of survival and connectivity. The NFO ART EXPO will take place in a factory within the oldest manufacturing district of Chicago in a neighborhood called Bridgeport. Booth spaces are 15 x 15 feet. NFO tables are 3" x 6".

No word as to how much it will cost artists, spaces and collectives at the NFO EXPO to rage against "the roaring bullshit carnival that has become reality," but it's nice to know someone's on top of it.

"Working Up a Head of Steam"
Posted by Dan at 03:13 AM


The Reader also covered the Navy Pier outdoor
exhibition, Navy Pier Walk. Schjeldahl, the critic for the New Yorker is organizing an exhibition of outdoor art. Kind of like New York's public art fund, this exhibit appears to be the leading producer of visual art exhibitions outside the traditional context of museums and galleries. Kay Rosen, Ruckriem, Franz West and a handful of developing artists are showing side by side in the front of the pier.
Newsworthy? Don't know.
Unfortunately, most successful art exhibitions are revealed in the rear view mirror....

Posted by: Traffic Cop on March 23, 2005 at 01:29 PM

Glad you're back ;)

Posted by: sarah on March 23, 2005 at 02:08 PM

You know, considering all the denigration of the Chicago art scene that I've heard from Chicagoans, this sounds pretty happening.

Good to have you back. Peace and blessings be upon your tonsils.

Posted by: Franklin on March 23, 2005 at 03:35 PM

You know, considering all the denigration of the Chicago art scene that I've heard from Chicagoans, this sounds pretty happening.

I'd have to agree. I mean, you can see the struggles and tradeoffs happening, but let's face it: many places would be quite happy for this level of activity.

And yeah, it's very good to see you back. But what, no pictures?

Posted by: MS on March 23, 2005 at 07:41 PM

Thank God you're back! I was afraid I'd have to write about all this myself plus do all the gallery shows etc. etc., when all I want to do is print right now (or maybe paint).

Sounds like most of the Chicago galleries have voted for the park. Where in the park, I wonder? Near the Bean, which is supposed to be fixed and shined up by now? Good news (I think) about Srray Show. Why do they have to call the other one "Young Art"? Name immediately turned me off. And no, I'm not railing against the current hatred for art of the post-30 crowd, though I think with title of show there may be a little pandering going on.

Posted by: Cynthia on March 23, 2005 at 11:20 PM

Re: The Reader on the PierWalk...

I don't recall this. I can imagine, though, it being "the leading producer of visual art exhibitions outside the traditional context of museums and galleries" in the city. And they do get some big names involved (you mention Schjeldahl; as I recall, Dave Hickey was juror one year, back when he was still kind of Big Dog). It's a shame it's all so easily lost in the mire of the developed Pier, though.

(Art Letter thread with discussion of the Pier Walk)

> sarah: Glad you're back ;)

I was just waiting to be missed :)

Franklin and MS:

Thanks for the perspective. I think the frustration people have may be from the sense of a potential constantly deferred, not to mention a long history of brain drain to NYC and LA.

Bear in mind that not many people foresee a very successful go from either big fair this year, as the world's attention has all but shifted down to Franklin's neck of the woods. And the fate of the smaller fairs seems linked directly to that of the main players. If the collectors don't come and if the sales aren't there...

This NOVA Center is a nice development, though, and arrives independent from the international art fair party circuit.

> MS: But what, no pictures?


> Cynthia: Sounds like most of the Chicago galleries have voted for the park. Where in the park, I wonder?

Butler Field: kitty corner to Millennium Park and across Columbus from the Art Institute.

I think whether we can say the galleries "voted for" art in the park or "resigned themselves" to sticking with TBA for lack of anything much better is open to debate.

Posted by: Dan on March 24, 2005 at 01:53 AM

I think it should also be noted that, while a look at the local exhibitors can give a sense of where the smart local money is laying its bets, to gauge the overall health of the fairs we'd want to see whether they're pulling in quality exhibitors from outside of Chicago.

As it currently stands, both fairs are listing around half as many exhibitors as they'd probably hoped to pull in or less. CC&C's materials claimed that they were anticipating around 140 modern and contemporary art galleries, and last year's Art Chicago (in another down year) featured nearly 160. It doesn't appear that either fair can afford to be the least bit discriminating this year, if only for the sake of minimizing their losses.

Posted by: Dan on March 24, 2005 at 09:22 AM

Here is a link to the Schjeldahl information
regarding his Chicago project...

www.pierwalk.org/about.html [Ed: URL fixed 3/29 17:23]

Posted by: DC on March 29, 2005 at 04:50 PM

Referenced in this post:

Adams Fine Art
Aldo Castillo Gallery
Ann Nathan Gallery
Art Chicago: Exhibitors
Artdaily.com: 13th Art Chicago in the Park to Open April 29
Belloc Lowndes
Bucket Rider
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Catherine Edelman Gallery
Chicago Antiques Fair
Chicago Contemporary & Classic: Exhibitors
Chicago Reader
Digital Arts Network: Lastest News—Invincible Desire
Galeria Trinta
Hyde Park Art Center
Iconoduel: A Discouraging Art Fair Digest
Iconoduel: Alan Artner is Making Sense, and other art fair business I've missed
Iconoduel: Art Chicago Lives: or Location, location, location
Iconoduel: Book It, Dano
Iconoduel: NOVA is Go
Iconoduel: Pfingsten Demands Satisfaction
Iconoduel: Who Wants In?
Jerald Melberg
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Leslie Hindman
Linda Warren Fine Art Gallery
Lisa Boyle Gallery
Los Angeles Antiques Show
Maine Antique Digest: Two Chicago Shows Move in Together—Danielle Arnet
Marx-Saunders Gallery, LTD.
NOVA Young Art Fair
New Art Dealers Alliance
Pan American Gallery
Praxis International Art
Richard Norton Gallery
Rita Bucheit, Ltd.
Roy Boyd Gallery
Russeck Gallery
Simpsons Archive: Bart the General (7G05)
Stray Show
Van Harrison Gallery
Walker Fine Art
Western Exhibitions
Zg Gallery