When EXPO Chicago started in 2012, the popular opinion was that President and Director Tony Karman had five years to make this fair great. If he couldn’t, it was likely dead in the water. This weekend marked year three of the midwest fair, and exhibitors and attendees remarked on the palpable momentum. 19 Chicago galleries participated, the highest number yet, and EXPO continued to draw galleries from around the world, including repeat exhibitors like New York’s CRG Gallery who has been on board all three years, and Diana Lowenstein Gallery of Miami, who has been exhibiting at Chicago fairs every year since the 90s.
Last year’s inaugural EXPO Chicago fair was generally characterized as being slow, but ultimately successful. The 2012 Vernissage, with a handful of exceptions, lacked the kind of frantic early purchasing that typically happens at the other big art fairs. By the end of that inaugural fair, there were many galleries happy with the sales that occurred over the course of the weekend and few grumblings from others, some of which had brought huge, expensive secondary market work that went unsold. This year feels markedly different.