BY Michelle Grabner in Frieze | 18 APR 16

The World to the Fair: Chicago

A hub for experimentation and entrepreneurship

BY Michelle Grabner in Frieze | 18 APR 16

In a 5-part series from the upcoming issue of Frieze Week magazine, Chicago, São Paulo, Berlin, Tokyo and Los Angeles come to Randall's Island.
The city’s majestic skyline rises from the shore of Lake Michigan like that of Oz. Chicago’s cultural contours and its creative influences keep shifting. Since the late 1990s, it has become an experimental hub for artist-run project spaces such as Julius Caesar, Born Nude, Ballroom Projects, Fernwey, New Capital, Boyfriends, and The Franklin. However, outside the heartland, the city is principally known as the home of the esteemed professor, planner, developer, activist, and preservationist Theaster Gates, who sees Chicago as the proper milieu for making art “in the biggest ways possible.” 

Lisa Williamson, Dimensional Shapes in Space (Installation View)
Courtesy Shane Campbell Gallery
Photo: Evan Jenkins

The Renaissance Society, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art are the city’s institutional backbone. (The artist-loved Threewalls closed its West Loop space in January, after 12 years.) A new non-profit, Sector 2337, and its publishing imprint, Green Lantern Press, focus on Chicago-based artists such as Magalie Guérin, Duncan Mackenzie, Esau McGhee, and A Laurie Palmer. The Graham Foundation has teamed up with the Chicago Cultural Center to launch a Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015.
From Shane Campbell Gallery’s inclusion of a “Recommended Reading List” on its website, to the Corbett vs. Dempsey directors’ curating of exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum, Hyde Park Art Center, and elsewhere, the influence of the School of the Art Institute lends some of the city’s commercial sector a pedagogical bent, while apartment-run galleries such as Night Club and Regards draw on the legacy of 1990s project spaces. Along with Aspect/Ratio, The Mission, Document, and Patron, these galleries represent the new entrepreneurs, assuming ever more significant places in the shifting commercial scene following the closing of the late Donald Young’s gallery in 2012. Each unique in brand, style, and influence, they reflect the realities of the global market and an embrace of radical regionalism.
Margot Bergman, Dolly, 2015, Courtesy Corbett vs Dempsey

The full article appears in the first New York edition of Frieze Week magazine available here or with your tickets to Frieze New York.

Read Part II: São Paulo
Read Part III: Berlin
Read Part IV: Tokyo
Read Part V: Los Angeles

Frieze Week magazine is the insiders’ guide to our art fairs with a preview of the best works on view, news of curated projects and talks, and tips on the most important exhibitions and events taking place around town. Frieze Week is published in anticipation of Frieze New York in May and Frieze London & Masters in October.

Michelle Grabner is an artist, curator and professor in the Department of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is Director of the exhibition spaces The Suburban in Milwaukee, USA and the Poor Farm in Wisconsin, USA.