Artropolis, Chicago’s triumvirate of art and antiques, came to a close on Monday, May 3rd, after a four-day, tour de force of visual stimulation. The extravaganza of artistic gluttony made possible by the immense size of the Merchandise Mart building itself, divided over 300 dealers between three floors forming Art Chicago, NEXT and The International Antiques Fair. In addition to the works on display, there was programming and events with over 85 cultural partners, that was available for collectors, dealers, art professionals and enthusiasts. Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc., (MMPI) organized a renowned line up of speakers, curators, artists, critics and industry insiders for this annual celebration of arts and culture. Public programs and exhibitions included Art Chicago Speaks, Converge Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum, Perspective Texas, New Insight, Partisan and Survey America.
Art Chicago, the international fair of contemporary and modern art, entered its 30th year with a robust exhibitor list of leading galleries from around the world. Many national and international galleries returned in 2010 after a brief hiatus, bringing strong work to the fair. Chicago dealer and Art Chicago veteran, Tom McCormick (seen above) told me that after four years at The Mart, the fair "gets better every year" with "good and better dealers". He compared the crowd and energy of Thursday night's preview party to the mid-90's at Navy Pier.
Converge Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum. Aperture Presents The Midwest Photographers Project with Karen Irvine (MoCP) and artists, Curtis Mann, Brian Ulrich and Lesley A. Martin.
NEXT, the younger and more rebellious sibling to Art Chicago, is the heralded exhibition of emerging and contemporary art and culture (Chicago's HungryMan Gallery seen at right). MMPI describes it as a “portal” into the contemporary world. The critically acclaimed fair was organized by Chicago dealer/NEXT founder and Curatorial Advisor, Kavi Gupta and Curatorial Director/co-owner DCKT Contemporary, Ken Tyburski. Joel Ferree of Spencer Brown Stone Gallery in New York, had a review similar to Mr. McCormick's of NEXT. He said that his overall exerperience has been "pretty good," explaining that there was a good balance this year, and, if the given the opportunity, may return in the future.
The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair is the leading antiques show in the Midwest (Chicago's Golden Triangle gallery at the Antiques Fair seen above). Ranging from vintage Chanel jewelry to Asian Art, Americana, decorative arts, furniture and 20th Century Design it was a spectacle of the ages.
I had a unique view of this year’s juggernaut of art, as I worked from an exhibitor’s booth at Art Chicago. Lending help to Laurie Glenn of TH!NKART, allowed me to experience the fair from a completely different perspective. In the past, I was a mere spectator, an unbiased observer roaming from booth to booth, floor to floor. This year, I spent a majority of my time with the gallery, talking with other dealers and greeting collectors as they visited the booth. The four day residency gave me access to document the people, art and performance that descended on our city.
--Robyn Farrel Roulo
(All images by Robyn Farrel Roulo. Top image credit: Tony Tasset, Blob Monster. 2009. Mixed media. Height 13 feet. Installation view on Orleans Avenue, outside the Merchandise Mart. Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago)
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