Once again the Merchandise Mart became Artropolis for the last weekend in April — the collection of Chicago’s annual major art fairs. Although smaller than previous years, they were well-attended and the energy level was high. Unless you were looking for a lot of blue chip work, there was something for almost everyone. In addition to art, there were panel discussions, other programs, New Insights (up-and-coming MFA grads) and more, making the fair a trade show of sorts, an area where the Mart excels.
For the first time, NEXT shared the floor with ArtChicago. It also seemed to be a little more tame. There were no antique Firebirds crashing into each other, heavily armed ice cream trucks or Jello wrestling. It did have thumping music and free-flowing Grolsch during the opening party, though.
Throughout its histories, the Chicago fairs have ebbed and flowed. I hope they get back to full strength in the future, helping Chicago retain its status as a player in the art world.