There was a sexy preview event last night in Navy Pier's famed Festival Hall, which seemed to have the air of history about it more than usual, with many fond references made to the glory days when some of the world's grandest art fairs took place in the soaring space. The setting last night was very loungey - lots of red, black and white, amidst club music and low lighting - conveying a feeling of hip coolness. For an evening all about art, there actually wasn't any around, but that's because the buzz was about anticipation - all that's promised to come next fall, September 20-23 for Chicago's newest international art fair.
Tony Karman and his team unveiled a heavy-hitting list of announcements, and the audience cheered in all the right spots. Here's the list.
• Vernissage is back. The very cool, arty party to benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was always in demand back in the day, and now the party days promise to be back. Stay tuned. And start figuring out a way to get an invitation...
• 'Starchitect' Jeanne Gang (of the famous Aqua Tower here in Chicago) has been enlisted to design the fair environment... This is no ordinary fair, folks. It's an experience.
• Along with the good looks, the food promises to be great as well, since MK chef Michael Kornick will be overseeing the menu for food offerings at the fair.
• Some art world big wigs have already signed-on to get the ball rolling. To name a few: David Zwirner, Richard Gray, Galerie Karsten Greve, the Mayor Gallery, and Rhona Hoffman (one of 3 super powers on the selection committee charged with picking a limited number (100) of participants)
Last night showed that the team behind the fair is serious about making it work right out of the gate - they're going after the biggest names in the contemporary art world so that the biggest collectors will want to come to Chicago to see the show, as well as the city itself. We have everything here to be a worldclass city, but sometimes people need reminders. Goodness knows this is a big endeavor, and it has the potential to give Chicago a shot in both arms. As far as I see it, the Olympics? Who cares that that never happened here. A major art fair that can get the cultureati to land here, not just flyover, is certainly welcome and worthy of close watching. A successful run will have a lasting impact throughout our city, not just in galleries and museums. Ever heard the addage that a rising tide lifts all boats? I certainly hope that's the case here, for our collectors, galleries, art fairs, artists, and certainly our civic pride.
There's a lot more info, including a new blog, on expo's site. And there should be more loungey events this winter and spring as the news keeps coming, which is smart, since besides juicy news bits, everyone loves a free cocktail...