MMPI Cancels Art Chicago after 30-year run... Chicago Looks to Fall Art Fair on the Horizon


Buzz abounded with the stunning news that the 30-year old Art Chicago fair (renamed Next Art Chicago but never mounted as such) has been cancelled by fair owner Merchandise Mart Properties (MMPI) a little more than 2 months before it was due to take place in late April.  Many in the art community are disappointed at the news and will have to rearrange their spring calendars and adjust to the first spring in Chicago without an art fair in 30 years.  Still on the cultural horizon will be the Merchandise Mart's venerable International Antiques Fair, April 27-30, and the new EXPO Chicago taking place at Navy Pier.

MMPI had this to say about the abrupt cancellation of Next Art Chicago via an emailed press release to vendors and partners:

After a thorough analysis of the art fair landscape, MMPI has determined not to move forward with the production of the 2012 edition of Next Art Chicago, and that Chicago will not remain a primary focus of its art fair business activities...It is our conclusion that the great majority of the art fair market in the United States has gravitated toward the coasts.  This is where MMPI will be reallocating its considerable resources.

CGN featured an article by writer Kevin Nance in our January-March issue discussing why Chicago collectors don't collect Chicago art - a question that has dogged many in the art community for many years.  Nance gave an overview of the ongoing Pacific Standard Time survey of art in LA.  CGN's publisher also talked about why Chicago is always caught in the middle between New York and LA, when really we have legs up on both ciities because of some uniquely midwestern strengths that just happen to get overlooked.  The Merchandise Mart was the owner of Art Chicago for just a brief time period, but unfortunately it chose to move 'its considerable resources' 'toward the coasts' - therefore chasing the same trendy dreams others have already been seeking.  Chicago's been down this road before and has been left for younger, sexier enticements, but we've also survived as much many times over. 

Now, we look 100% hopefully and earnestly towards Expo Chicago, the highly anticipated truly international art fair that will be launching in Chicago's original art fair confines, Navy Pier by the lake, September 20-23, 2012.  The long-running SOFA art fair, founded in Chicago, also at Navy Pier, also takes place again this fall for the 19th year.  Onward and upward!

The Chicago Tribune also reported on the story.