Impressive Numbers From Opening of EXPO CHICAGO 2017 and 2nd Chicago Architecture Biennial



If you attended EXPO CHICAGO or the opening of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial last week you knew that things were busy. EXPO and the City of Chicago both announced just how busy things were – 8,500 people on opening night for EXPO's Vernissage, and 40,000 people over the courst of the fair – and the news is positive on all fronts. Early sales wrap-ups from participating galleries have been healthy and encouraging, and the overall attendance numbers set records. 

“This is the first year that Lévy Gorvy participated in EXPO CHICAGO and we were thrilled by the reception that we received from collectors, curators and a very enthusiastic public. Chicago has a personal significance for me, and a phenomenal history as a pioneering city for art, architecture and collecting. We were very pleased to see old friends and to enjoy the revitalized energy of this fair. In particular, we were happy that works by Pat Steir, Carol Rama, Senga Nengudi and Dan Colen found new homes in the Midwest.” — Brett Gorvy | Lévy Gorvy

“Participating in EXPO CHICAGO for the first time, we wanted to show a dynamic selection of works. We were delighted with the level of engagement with the art from private collectors, as well as from representatives of major institutions.” — Millicent Wilner | Gagosian 

“EXPO CHICAGO brings a wonderful audience of patrons and museum groups every September. Over the years, this has allowed us to debut major exhibitions, in addition to an ambitious presentation at the fair. We were thrilled to prominently feature work by artists in both the booth space as well as a part of IN/SITU. We also featured modernist and blue-chip contemporary work for the first time and are beyond happy to place these works in prominent collections.” – Kavi Gupta | Kavi Gupta

"The fair had and strong international representation of galleries this year and we continue to do good business with both known and new regional collectors. If a consensus can be achieved, and more top galleries join, EXPO CHICAGO is on it's way to being the dominant date and meeting point for American collectors West of the East Coast." —Christopher D’Amelio | David Zwirner

The opening of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, and the simultaneous launch of the second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial were also very good for the City of Chicago, since the city welcomed more than 100,000 visitors from around the world last week, a figure reported by Mayor Emanuel himself, “Renowned exhibitions at both the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO bolstered Chicago’s reputation as the vanguard of architectural, art and design innovation on the national and international stage and underscores the city’s important convening power,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I want to thank all of the architects, organizers, and residents of Chicago who made this week such a tremendous cultural, educational and economic success for our city.” 

EXPO presented 135 leading international galleries from 25 countries and 58 cities. Additional special projects in collaboration with both CAB and EXPO CHICAGO took place at Navy Pier with Nick Cave’s Here Hear Chicago performances as well as at the DuSable Museum of African American History’s Roundhouse for the Palais de Tokyo’s first-ever off-site exhibition in the United States, in partnership with the Institut français. 

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) expanded to include over 140 practitioners from 20 countries at exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center hub, as well as at six neighborhood sites across the city. The estimated attendance at CAB was over 30,000 at opening festivities. The Biennial runs through January 7, 2018, and is free and open to the general public at the Chicago Cultural Center and sites across the city. EXPO returns to Navy Pier September 27-30, 2018.

It's hard to believe EXPO CHICAGO 2017 is already over, but the 2018 dates have been set and we will look forward to once again seeing what's next for the fair as well as the contemporary art world. In the meantime, there is still so much to see around the city that is part of the Architecture Biennial as well as the city's programming for the Year of Public Art. Congratulations to EXPO, the MCA, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the City of Chicago and all who participated during the weekend!  – GV


EXPO CHICAGO's press release regarding opening night is below:

The Opening Night benefit for EXPO CHICAGO, Hosted by the MCA Women’s Board, Raises $300,000

(Chicago, IL) EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, opened its sixth edition to more than 8,500 people during Vernissage, the opening night event benefiting the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. A vast crowd of the city’s business, civic and cultural leaders, as well as artists, collectors and art enthusiasts filled Navy Pier’s Festival Hall Wednesday, September 13 as they were treated to a special preview of more than 135 of the world’s leading galleries from 25 countries and 58 cities. 

Notable guests included Lena Baume, Allison Berg, Bruce and Barbara Berger, Marlene Breslow and Berle Blitstein, Fred Bidwell, Neil Bluhm, Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul, Pierre Boulais, Gwen Callans and Biff Ruttenberg, Larry and Marilyn Fields, Caryn and King John and Sharon Hoffman, Bill Gautreaux, Helyn Goldenberg and Michael Alper, Rod Lubeznik and Susan Goodman, James Gordon, Paul and Linda Gotskind, Ken Griffin, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Anne Kaplan, Susie Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt, Liz Lefkofsky, Nancy Lerner and David Frej, Jennifer Litowitz , Susan Manilow, Eric McKissack, Gary Metzner, Bob Munch, Lewis and Susan Nerman, Claire and Mike O'Grady, Randall and Shelia Ott, MK Pritzker, Alan and Rebecca Ross, Cathy Ross and Chris Liguori, Lyn Segal, Amir Shariat, Irving Stenn, Kristin Binder Stevens and Stan Stevens, Carl and Marilyn Thoma, Lucas Walton, and Helen Zell, among others.
This unique celebration, co-chaired by MCA Women’s Board members Tonya Geesman, Christine Poggianti and Ellen Wallace, began with a patron reception at 5:00 pm in the VIP Collector’s Lounge, presented by Northern Trust, featuring food by some of Chicago’s top restaurants and food providers including: 20E, Talbott Hotel, BellyQ, Chicago Raw, Marisol, Big Star, Riva Restaurant, Tanta, The Windsor, Yusho, Eli’s Cheesecake and Skinny Pop and Nude Dude Food. Featured beverage sponsors include Lagunitas and Terrazas de los Andes.
At 6 pm President | Director of EXPO CHICAGO Tony Karman took a humbling moment to thank the crowd for their tremendous support for the fair’s sixth year. He then called on MCA Chicago’s Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn to speak to the incredible partnership between the MCA and EXPO CHICAGO.  
“We have been collaborating with the art fair since the inception of Vernissage and we are especially proud of that partnership this year because we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MCA Women’s Board. Thank you to the Women’s Board and all of you for making the MCA the preeminent contemporary art museum in Chicago and beyond for 50 years.” She added, “Collaborations like this are so important, and I am proud to debut another collaboration between the MCA, world-renowned artist Kerry James Marshall and fashion brand MZ Wallace. Together, we debut a gorgeous bag based on a painting by Kerry James Marshall in our permanent collection, and all proceeds go directly to our education programs.”
Northern Trust Wealth Management Central Region President Mac MacLellan then took the stage stating, “We are thrilled with the growth of the art fair and the major impact it has had on our entire city. Northern Trust remains the only financial services firm based in the U.S. to sponsor a modern and contemporary art exhibition of this scale and size, showing our firms commitment to the art community.” He continued, “The entire art world will have its eye on Chicago the next couple of days and that is entirely because of the unique collaborations that EXPO CHICAGO has made possible. Collaboration between the City of Chicago, Navy Pier, Corporate Sponsors, arts organizations, artists and galleries—and in this day in age, when we have so much dissonance between so many despaired groups, it’s nice to see collaboration come together and be successful. EXPO CHICAGO is a great example not only for the City of Chicago but for the rest of the country.”
MacLellan then introduced Navy Pier’s Chief Program and Civic Engagement officer Michelle T. Boone, who welcomed everyone to Navy Pier stating, “Tony and his vision for EXPO CHICAGO has really paved the way for establishing Navy Pier as one of the most exciting cultural districts in the city of Chicago, and I am just thrilled and honored to continue this tradition and partnership.” She reiterated MacLellan’s sentiments by adding, “This is a tremendous demonstration of the power of partnerships and collaborations between private, public and non-private sectors pulling together to make this the most exciting arts week not only in Chicago but in the nation.”
Chairman of the Chicago Architecture Biennial Jack Guthman also took a moment to thank Tony Karman for his vision. “I told the Mayor we had to align the Biennial with EXPO CHICAGO because no one promotes Chicago the way Tony Karman promotes Chicago. I wanted the biennial, my little ship, to follow in his wake, and the Mayor got it right away.”
The City of Chicago Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Mark Kelly concluded the remarks, perfectly encapsulating the unique collaborations of the night and throughout the city. “This year is the 50th anniversary of the MCA and the sixth year of EXPO CHICAGO. 50 is the most perfect number in numerology, and six is the most harmonious of the single digit numbers so what we have is major good karma here today. Congratulations to the MCA and to EXPO CHICAGO. On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I want to thank Tony Karman and his staff for lighting a fuse, making Chicago on fire with the visual arts. This is a civic event that reaches out into the entire city including artists, museums, galleries, cultural organizations and more. We are not only the center of visual arts in the country but in the world. When you take EXPO CHICAGO, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the upcoming Art Design Chicago, the Year of Public Art and all the great work going on in the city, right here and now, this is the epicenter of great visual arts in the world.”
A bottle of Ruinart Champagne was popped and all gathered together for a celebratory toast before making their way onto the show floor.  
Guests mingled throughout the show floor until Nick Cave’s Up Right Chicago commenced on the show floor, featuring a processional of dancers in soundsuits making their way through Festival Hall. The performance, a part of Here Hear Chicago and a unique collaboration between Cave and architect Jeanne Gang, continued in the Aon Ballroom welcoming guests of Vernissage in addition to the general public.

EXPO CHICAGO 2018 will return September 27–30. For more information on EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK visit