EXPO CHGO ONLINE Programming Announced; Online Fair Runs April 8-12


By CGN Staff

With the news that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is planning to move to the long-awaited fifth phase of reopening in the not so distant future, we have already been thinking about art fairs like EXPO Chicago and when and how they will return to business. Phase five promises “all sectors of the economy reopen” and “conventions, festivals, and large events can take place.”

Coming up sooner is EXPO's online, five day slate of public panels and events, featuring 80+ local and international galleries, plus some starry artist, musician and performance names (Jeff Tweedy and Theaster Gates). We can't help but think that were this event to have taken place in person (as sort of planned as the first plan B when EXPO 2020 was postponed) these people would not have actually come together in the same way, making this seem like a glass half-full alternative opportunity we are grateful for after a year of closures and suspensions. 

EXPO CHGO ONLINE runs April 8–12, 2021 and is a curated digital exposition of contemporary and modern art complemented by five days of virtual programming. EXPO CHGO ONLINE will feature 81 galleries in a focused online presentation, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). The site will include a “Dealer’s Choice” feature, inviting exhibitors to select one artwork on view from an artist outside of their roster, emulating casual recommendations made at a physical fair. Additionally, notable international curators, museum directors, and critics including Renaud Proch (Independent Curators International), Humberto Moro (Museo Tamayo), Marcella Beccaria (Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea) and Eric Shiner (Pioneer Works) will curate a selection of works from EXPO CHICAGO ONLINE, to be featured on the exposition homepage (

Each gallery will also be invited to present one artwork that contributes to a broad rethinking of the environment, to be exhibited within a focused programming section. Accompanied by a curatorial statement from Katie Pfohl (Curator, New Orleans Museum of Art), the exposition’s Environmental Curator, this section is conceptually linked to the fair’s recent symposium Alternate Assembly: Environmental Impact in the Era of Pandemic, and will connect to a virtual panel organized by Pfohl as part of EXPO CHGO ONLINE’s program.

“With EXPO CHGO ONLINE we welcome the world to explore the artwork offered by our participating exhibitors, and to utilize the numerous features included in our virtual programming we’ve built to encourage the interplay between galleries, collectors, curators and patrons like one might experience at an in-person fair,” said Tony Karman, President | Director of EXPO CHICAGO. “We are deeply grateful to our exhibitors and for our partnership with Hook to present this unique platform. We pledge to continue to enhance our virtual offerings to better serve our participants and patrons,” he added. “In addition to maintaining our longstanding Curatorial Forum initiatives and our commitment to supporting local and international art institutions and partners, I am also proud that EXPO CHGO ONLINE will introduce a series of performances and talks that further highlights Chicago’s rich cultural community.” 

Alongside the virtual exposition, EXPO CHGO ONLINE will offer a series of dynamic discussions, film screenings, exhibition tours, music and dance performances reflecting Chicago’s interdisciplinary arts scene. 

Programs taking place during EXPO CHGO ONLINE will be free and open to the public via


Schedule highlights include:


o   The Curatorial Forum brings together curators from across the US with two main goals—promoting collaborations and knowledge-sharing across the country, and advancing civic-minded practice among curators and in the institutions they work for. For the last four years, convenings have addressed issues of racial inequities in the museum and curatorial fields, a topic which will remain at the center of this special interim session of the Forum. 12 p.m. CST: ICI | Race and Representation in Museums (virtual, Closed Door Session). Presented in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI)  

o  Framing the Moment: On Music, Architecture and Improvisation. Featuring David Brown (Artistic Director, Chicago Architecture Biennial), Ken Vandermark (Musician), Rosa Barba (Artist), and moderated by John Corbett (Gallerist, Corbett vs. Dempsey), this panel convenes thought leaders from visual art, jazz, and architectural backgrounds to discuss the ways improvisational techniques influence their diverse practices in the creation of visual, sonic, and constructed spaces. Panelists will explore how improvisational methods impact both collaboration and community.  5 p.m. CST: EXPO CHGO Kick-Off Program. Presented in partnership with Chicago Architecture Biennial



o   Attend a Curator-Led Digital Tour with Humberto Moro, deputy director and senior curator at the Museo Tamayo and EXPO CHICAGO’s EXPOSURE curator, for a tour of EXPO CHGO ONLINE. Since 2016, Moro has been an adjunct curator at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia and has previously held curatorial positions at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Museo Jumex in Mexico City. In this program, Moro will present a selection of works by emerging artists from a range of galleries featured in the EXPOSURE section of the digital exposition, in addition to key pieces from emerging artists throughout the exposition. 11 a.m. CST

o  Enjoy An Evening with Theaster Gates, a program led by artist, and Founder and Executive Director of Rebuild Foundation, Theaster Gates6:30 p.m. CST Program



o   Featuring the premiere of a new film and other new works, Jill Magid's Tender: Balance at the Renaissance Society thinks about the circulation of currency and measures of absence and loss, with dimensions that are both intimate and attuned to larger systems. This exhibition is the second manifestation of a larger unfolding project by the artist, set against the backdrop of the pandemic. While developing new threads, Tender: Balance parallels Magid's monumental but nearly-invisible public artwork, Tender, produced by Creative Time in New York last fall, for which Magid engraved the edges of 120,000 new US pennies with the words ‘THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE' and quietly put them into everyday circulation. On the exhibition's opening day at the Renaissance Society, artist Jill Magid joins curator Karsten Lund to discuss the project and its various manifestations, in Chicago and beyond. 6 p.m. CST: Artist Talk  

o   Tune in for a special live performance of solo sets by Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline at 7 p.m. CST: Performance. Presented in partnership with Corbett vs. Dempsey’s Sequesterfest 5, part of the Experimental Sound Studio’s The Quarantine Concert series



o   With The Arts Club of Chicago in a pandemic-induced hibernation during the cold winter months, three polymath artists explore the club’s rooms and think experimentally about how to perform in an empty institution. Tiny Performances in Empty Rooms features musical artist Angel Bat Dawid collaborating with composer and multi-instrumentalist Isaiah Collier, dance-maker/performer/choreographer Jasmine Mendoza collaborating with filmmaker Keaton Fox, and theatre artist/performer Kurt Chiang collaborating with performer Livia Chesley5 p.m. CST: Performance. Join for an in-depth follow-up with the artists on Monday, April 12 at 11:30 a.m. CST on the EXPO CHICAGO microsite. Presented in partnership with The Arts Club of Chicago

Also: EXPO CHGO ONLINE will be complemented by a thematic selection of short films on the environment by emerging contemporary artists, curated in partnership with Daata ( The works will be screened together as a compilation on Sunday, April 11, and will be available to view throughout the weekend on a dedicated page on the EXPO CHICAGO microsite. 



o   In his first solo museum exhibition, artist and musician Omar Velázquez (Puerto Rican, b. 1984) presents recent paintings and sculptures that address the intersection of painting, music, and folklore at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Velázquez speaks with Carla Acevedo-Yates, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator, from his studio, giving a peek into his painting and instrument-building practice and inspirations including Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller.  2:30 p.m. CST: Artist Studio Visit | Music and Art with Omar Velázquez. Presented in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


The Online Dispatch will be presented daily to relay the program offerings. Subscribe to The Online Dispatch here.

A full schedule of EXPO CHGO ONLINE programming and events including dates, times and streaming links will be available on March 22 via