NADA's First Chicago Fair Invites Viewers to Engage With Art

A visitor talks to the dealer from Proyectos Ultravioleta of Guatemala City 



On a picture perfect Chicago morning in the city's most photogenic part of downtown, the nonprofit New Art Dealers Alliance debuted the Chicago Invitational at the restored Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, one year after it cancelled its New York fair. At the time NADA announced the new fair, it was a win for Chicago, but the reality is even better.

The fair opened to VIPS at 10am, one day before EXPO Chicago's Vernissage, just a mile away on Navy Pier. I made my way through hotel guests and young professionals popping into the CAA for coffee to walk the first of three floors of the exposition. Running September 18-21, the Invitational overlaps with but is distinct from EXPO. 


The addition of a new fair in the city with a commitment to newer voices and unconventional initiatives in the art community will broaden the scope and appeal of events taking place during this busy time in Chicago and build on and extend the profile of the city as a hub for contemporary art and culture. 

Earlier this year NADA Executive Director Heather Hubbs said, “Historically, Chicago has been a hotbed of artist-run galleries and alternative spaces. The city then and now embodies the experimental spirit of NADA, and we look forward to connecting our exhibitors with this audience.“

The fair takes place in various spaces throughout the iconic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, with a curated selection of galleries in the hotel’s historic Stagg Court and Tank spaces, and a takeover of 13 hotel rooms on the fourth floor. Word spread throughout the fair on Wednesday morning that though dealers were given the option to have the room beds removed for a $120 fee, most opted to work with the beds in the room and to fully work within the confines of a hotel fair. In the larger, some what more conventional spaces with side-by-side gallery booths on the first as well as the fourth floor, dealers featured solo shows as well as gallery selections. CGN's highlights are shown below. 

Fair organizers emphasize that the inaugural edition of the Chicago Invitational further exemplifies NADA’s expanded commitment to year-round programming and producing alternatives for galleries to exhibit artwork in a new setting. NADA recently held the New York Gallery Open, a new initiative designed to bring visitors and collectors to over 50 art spaces across New York City for public tours, talks, and performances, and NADA House, the organization’s second off-site exhibition on Governors Island, which was recently on view from May through August 2019.

The Chicago Invitational runs through September 21, 2019 at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at 12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago


Et al. Gallery from San Francisco featured Brook Hsu's verdant lucite boxes placed atop crisp white pillowcases and sheets, with coordinating framed see-through menu panels pasted to east facing windows overlooking Millennium Park. 


Floral still lifes by Shana Sharp of Good Weather Gallery from Little Rock, Arkansas stood in for real flower arrangements as well as in place of clothing that otherwise would be hanging in the closet. At the bottom is another panel by Brook Hsu.


Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, displayed a mega-sized pair of black pants by artist Amanda Ross Ho across most of a king-sized bed. 


Misako & Rosen Gallery of Tokyo featured a cheeky white canvas with blue painted letters that stated "Oil on Canvas" by Ken Kagami. 


Galerie Christian Lethert,  from Cologne, Germany displayed a series of small scale, framed color collages made from acrylic on plastic film by Imi Knoebel.


Chicago-based DOCUMENT hung a series of embossed monotypes by Elizabeth Atterbury on its outer wall, while inside they featured a selection of work by gallery artists, including several photographs. 


Proyectos Ultravioleta of Guatemala City curated a booth full of small collages made out of magazine cutouts by Viennese artist Elisabeth Wild, who is 97 years of age.



Regards showed work by artists such as Judith Geichman and Devin T. Mays, as well as John Pittman's The Mondrian Trio, made of Alkyd/Wood with concave strips of primary color carved out of each beige block of resin. 


PATRON, also from Chicago, mixed two and three dimensional work. The center of the booth features an installation of three works by Alex Chitty, Linnet I, II and III, which trace the flight patterns of the common linnet bird in constructions made from powder, coated steel and cast aluminum.