According to Chicago DCASE commissioner and culture czar Mark Kelly, speaking Wednesday at Navy Pier, our fair city is “the epicenter of art for the country and the world.” Or at least it is this week, while Expo Chicago 2017 is displaying work by 3,500 artists from 25 countries and 58 cities.
That’s a big enough pond for Chicago’s own to get lost in, but a quick opening-night cruise yielded multiple happy sightings of hometown dealers and work.
There are some familiar pieces, like Roger Brown’s 1991 painting, The War We Won, on display courtesy of Kavi Gupta. It confronts viewers with a life-sized Cold War quartet of Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Bush (the first), and Reagan.
Luftwerk’s White Wanderer casts their light-as-medium magic on the wall at the Natural Resources Defense Council booth, by training spots on mirrored glass. The inspiration was the now-free-floating Larsen C ice shelf and climate change.
The Chicago Artists Coalition booth features Yvette Mayorga’s High Maintenance (Art After Nov. 8, 2016), an eye-popping, immersive, rococo, satirical, and Candy Land-pink critique of immigration law, sexism, racism, the American Dream, and life in general in the Trump era.
You can’t miss SAIC’s Memorial to an Unbuild [sic] Monument and/or A Litany of Reduction, 2017, which has artist Emilio Rojas using an 1892 coin to re-create the image of a proposed Columbian Exposition building on the booth wall—all done while standing on two piles of books in the nude.
And then there’s the deliciously arch Balas & Wax (aka Susy Bielak and Fred Schmalz) installation in the Threewalls space. Titled Construction/Demolition/Salad, the multipart work includes three vintage photos (an artfully constructed full-color salad, flanked by hotels under construction and exploding), along with urban-planning documents that have undergone radical intervention, and apples as designed objects — on display and wrapped in vellum with text, for the taking.
At closing time, performers from Nick Cave’s Up Right Chicago swept through and led the way out.