By APRIL LANE
The Other Art Fair (TOAF), presented by Saatchi Art and heading into its 7th year in business, will make its first appearance in Chicago September 28-30, 2018 at Mana Contemporary Chicago in Pilsen. TOAF has become known as the leading art fair for emerging artists in the United Kingdom, and with Chicago being an epicenter for art -- brimming with historic museums, theatres and galleries -- there’s also an ever-growing population of independent, up-and-coming visual artists who would like to gain exposure by having their work featured in a big-name fair but who aren’t yet connected with an established gallery or exhibitor who can get them in the door.
“What we're trying to do is give a voice and a creative platform to those artists,” says Ryan Stanier, founder and general manager of TOAF.
TOAF has received more than 500 applications for the Chicago fair, and its team of seasoned art world partners and staff are hand-selecting 120 artists to exhibit their work in the upcoming exhibition this fall. Exhibiting artists come largely from Chicago and throughout the Midwest, but also from as far as Beijing, India, Colombia, Toronto and London.
What TOAF says sets it aside from many bigger name fair competitors is that it explicitly tries to invite first time art buyers and novice collectors to search for original artwork alongside artists who are at the fair to speak for and represent themselves and their work. “We’re connecting local artists in Chicago to an art buying audience by saying, ‘If you’ve got $100, you can come to The Other Art Fair, and you can find an artwork which you can fall in love with and talk to the artist about, and then you can own it,’” explains Stanier. "It really does make [the fair] accessible, and… that really is a big point of difference for us.”
What started off in 2011 as a smaller fair that took place once a year in London to draw attention to emerging artists has ballooned into an international success. Over the past seven years, TOAF has held a total of 22 fairs and has featured more than 1,000 exhibiting artists. This year TOAF is hosting a total of 10 fairs in cities throughout the United States, UK and Australia. Moving forward in 2019 Stanier says TOAF’s plan is to increase the number of fairs per year to 15.
There’s more to TOAF than just supporting local artists by selling art: the fair is meant to be an interactive experience for everyone who visits. The fair allows for visitors to spend a number of hours enjoying interactive art installations as well as various amenities, including music, numerous restaurant partners, virtual reality and tattoo projects. “It’s like when you go to a museum -- you almost want to experience something unexpected, and that’s what we are really try getting across during the fair,” says Stanier. “Even if you come and don’t buy anything, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, I want everyone to walk away saying that they had a really good day out.”
Other events at TOAF to note:
GUEST ARTIST HEBRU BRANTLEY PRESENTED BY LITTLE BLACK PEARL
Purchase a limited edition print, exclusive to the fair, by acclaimed Chicago artist Hebru Brantley. All proceeds support our Charity Partner, Little Black Pearl.
TOAF AFTER DARK SPONSORED BY THE COOPER SOUTHBANK
The Other Art Fair and The Cooper Southbank give you Art's biggest Saturday night on September 29, 6–10pm. Enjoy a late evening of art, live music, drinks and special programming. Tickets start from $13.50 and permit re-entry to the fair on Sunday September 30th.
THE LITTLE ART PAGES
Younger visitors explore the fair with a free creative newspaper suitable for all ages.
It happens to coincide with the 7th edition of EXPO CHICAGO at Navy Pier.
Visit theotherartfair.com for more info.