The inaugural installment of EXPO CHICAGO is in full swing throughout the weekend at Navy Pier's Festival Hall. Galleries from across the globe have set up shop, bringing with them a museum-load of modern and contemporary art. There's more, though—artists' installations dot the floor, the contemporary art media have set up outposts (shout-out to Bad at Sports), and an active schedule of talks and discussion panels (including Art Institute curators Katherine Bussard and Lisa Dorin) round out the bill.
Organizers describe EXPO as a concept-driven affair, an approach broadly evident in their choice of Studio Gang (founded and headed by certified genius Jeanne Gang) as fair architect. Studio Gang's layout for the fair echoes the grid of Chicago's streets, organizing galleries numerically along parallel axes running the length of the hall. You could compare these to, say, Ashland, Damen, and Western. A diagonal path intersecting the main avenues leads visitors to highlights of the fair. This is probably analogous to Milwaukee Avenue, but I'd like to imagine it's Elston (Chicago's cool up-and-coming diagonal avenue).
Hiring an architect to imbue the fair with Chicago's wayfinding DNA makes perfect sense—Chicago has a history with art fairs and loads of famous architecture, and Studio Gang is Chicago-based. So, as you can imagine, the Art Institute of CHICAGO isn't going to let such a Chicago-y event go by without getting our artistic mitts all over it. Nope! This coming Monday, we're opening the first-ever exhibition devoted to Studio Gang's wildly creative output. Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects explores not just the firm's projects, but also its processes, materials, and practices. So go check out EXPO and stop by Aqua on your way out, and head to the Art Institute before February to get the full Studio Gang scoop.
But the fun doesn't stop there! The Art Institute has its own booth at EXPO, entirely dedicated to a sneak preview of seminal conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg's installation No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R 'n' R, opening today in the Modern Wing. Designed as a survey of American vernacular music—folk, gospel, blues, rock (you know, the good stuff)—Ruppersberg collects album covers, amateur music photography, and musicians' obituaries, along with hundreds of recorded songs, as an invitation to consider the history of America's colloquial music and the lives of those who made it.
So there you go, you've got something to do this weekend. Tell your friends you won't be at brunch! You've got art to put in your brain!
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[Photo by Charles Traub: http://bit.ly/1NtpS2J]