Publisher's Letter: Spring In Chicago: What Once Was and Is Again

CGN publisher Ginny (Berg) Van Alyea on a trip to Chicago in 1994 – notice the Art Chicago banner by JNL Design in the background. Photo: Jo Sittenfeld


Finally, spring is here, just in time, and I feel blessed. The events that have roiled the world, just between the publication of this new issue and the annual arts guide we sent out at the end of 2021, have been breathtaking. A COVID surge roared back and threatened to once again change plans that had already been put on hold. Then case counts and measures improved so far the other way we could go mask optional nearly everywhere. 

When my son learned he didn’t have to wear a mask to school anymore, he said to me, “My friends will see my face!” The fact that businesses and spaces are open, with most restrictions gone, is very exciting as life begins to spring up again. There is so much to do. Where do we start? Maybe by enjoying and holding on to the freedom to see friends and favorite places again in person. 

As many of us find our footing after two years of being apart and following varying rules, it can feel hard not to worry if there is another setback around the next corner. Emerging from the pandemic, we are suddenly watching a shocking, new war in Europe, understanding all over again how precious each day is and how fortunate we are to safely be able to make it around the corner at all. We never know what’s ahead. 


I’m beginning to feel in 2022 how long I have been here in this city and in this job. I first started at CGN 20 years ago this fall. In digging through boxes of old photos recently, I came across a picture of myself as a very young tourist in Chicago, several years before I began working at CGN. I was visiting from Cincinnati for a weekend with my parents and a friend, and we were strolling on Michigan Ave., most likely having just come out of Crate and Barrel, when their flagship store was where Starbucks is now. In the picture it is spring, it’s the mid-90s, there are daffodils and there is no danger. I wasn’t even old enough to drive. 

I could not have known yet where I would end up, but there was literally a sign over my shoulder. I didn’t give a second thought to it then: there, in black and yellow, is an Art Chicago street banner advertising the fair at Navy Pier. 28 years later I know that kind of fair, and I know art fair weekend very well. I would first work at CGN’s booth at Art Chicago in the spring of 2003, nine years after that trip to the city.

Within the next decade, from my job at CGN I watched Art Chicago change ownership as well as locations. Then Tony Karman’s EXPO CHICAGO debuted in 2012 and moved the fair back to Navy Pier and to a September time slot. Now another decade later, the fair takes place once again in the spring, during the season when it all began. This April’s return of EXPO feels almost divinely arranged. The opportunities, new perspectives and energy borne from such a barren two years of life and business during COVID are blessings. Things are growing back and renewing, ushering in the start of a full season to be embraced and enjoyed. 

I know now how lucky I am to be here. We all are. 

See you in the galleries and see you at the fair!


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