Some of the guests at the Art Expo Chicago 2017 Vernissage celebrate six years of art and partnership in a city that is gradually becoming the art center of the world with a bottle of Ruinart champagne. Image: Expo Chicago
CHICAGO- More than 8,500 people were at the Vernissage marking the opening of the sixth edition of Expo Chicago, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art on Wednesday. The opening night event of Art Expo Chicago 2017 viewing benefited the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, and $300,000 was raised.
The Art Expo Chicago 2017 private showing brought together a vast crowd of the Chicago’s business, civic and cultural leaders, as well as artists, collectors and art enthusiasts who filled the Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. By 5:00 pm, the hall was filled with guests who were treated to a special preview of artworks presented by more than 135 of the world’s leading galleries from 25 countries and 58 cities.
Co-chaired by MCA Women’s Board members Tonya Geesman, Christine Poggianti and Ellen Wallace, the Art Expo Chicago 2017 night began with a patron reception in the VIP Collector’s Lounge. Presented by Northern Trust, guests were treated to amazing food by some of Chicago’s top restaurants and food providers including 20E, Talbott Hotel, BellyQ, Chicago Raw, Marisol, Big Star, Riva Restaurant, Tanta, The Windsor, Yusho, Eli’s Cheesecake and Skinny Pop and Nude Dude Food. The featured beverage sponsors include Lagunitas and Terrazas de los Andes.
Some of the notable guests at the preview showing for the Art Expo Chicago 2017 included Lena Baume, Allison Berg, Bruce and Barbara Berger, Marlene Breslow and Berle Blitstein, Fred Bidwell, Neil Bluhm, Barbara Bluhm-Kaul and Don Kaul. Others include Pierre Boulais, Gwen Callans and Biff Ruttenberg, Larry and Marilyn Fields, Caryn and King John and Sharon Hoffman, Bill Gautreaux, Helyn Goldenberg and Michael Alper, Rod Lubeznik and Susan Goodman, James Gordon, Paul and Linda Gotskind, Ken Griffin, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Anne Kaplan, Susie Karkomi and Marvin Leavitt, Liz Lefkofsky, Nancy Lerner and David Frej, Jennifer Litowitz , Susan Manilow, Eric McKissack, Gary Metzner, Bob Munch, Lewis and Susan Nerman, Claire and Mike O’Grady, Randall and Shelia Ott, MK Pritzker, Alan and Rebecca Ross, Cathy Ross and Chris Liguori, Lyn Segal, Amir Shariat, Irving Stenn, Kristin Binder Stevens and Stan Stevens, Carl and Marilyn Thoma, Lucas Walton, and Helen Zell, among others.
The Art Expo Chicago 2017 Vernissage presented the opportunity to thank those who have been supporting Expo Chicago for the past six editions. As the celebration of art continued, President and Director of Expo Chicago Tony Karman took the floor and thanked the crowd for their tremendous support for the fair’s sixth year. He then called on MCA Chicago’s Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn to speak to the incredible partnership between the MCA and Expo Chicago.
Madeleine Grynsztejn expressed her appreciation for the collaboration between Expo Chicago and MCA. This year, she noted is even more important because “we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MCA Women’s Board. Thank you to the Women’s Board and all of you for making the MCA the preeminent contemporary art museum in Chicago and beyond for 50 years.” In her speech, she celebrated the importance of the collaboration and announced that a new partnership between the MCA, world-renowned artist Kerry James Marshall and fashion brand MZ Wallace. “Together, we debut a gorgeous bag based on a painting by Kerry James Marshall in our permanent collection, and all proceeds go directly to our education programs,” she said.
Northern Trust Wealth Management Central Region President Mac MacLellan, one of the major supporters of the art fair celebrated the growth of the art fair and its impact on the city of Chicago. According to Mac MacLellan Northern Trust is “the only financial services firm based in the U.S. to sponsor a modern and contemporary art exhibition of this scale and size, showing our firm commitment to the art community.” He concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of collaboration:
The entire art world will have its eye on Chicago the next couple of days and that is entirely because of the unique collaborations that Expo Chicago has made possible. Collaboration between the City of Chicago, Navy Pier, Corporate Sponsors, arts organizations, artists and galleries—and in this day in age, when we have so much dissonance between so many despaired groups, it’s nice to see collaboration come together and be successful. Expo Chicago is a great example not only for the City of Chicago but for the rest of the country.
On her part, Navy Pier’s Chief Program and Civic Engagement officer Michelle T. Boone noted that Tony Karman’s vision for Expo Chicago “has really paved the way for establishing Navy Pier as one of the most exciting cultural districts in the city of Chicago and I am just thrilled and honored to continue this tradition and partnership.”
In his address, Chairman of the Chicago Architecture Biennial Jack Guthman echoed Michelle T. Boone appreciation of Tony Karman’s saying “I told the Mayor we had to align the Biennial with Expo Chicago because no one promotes Chicago the way Tony Karman promotes Chicago. I wanted the biennial, my little ship, to follow in his wake, and the Mayor got it right away.”
As for Mark Kelly, the City of Chicago Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in addition to celebrating art, Expo Chicago with all its partnership exemplifies good karma. He congratulated MCA and Expo Chicago for making Chicago the art center of the world. He notes:
On behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I want to thank Tony Karman and his staff for lighting a fuse, making Chicago on fire with the visual arts. This is a civic event that reaches out into the entire city including artists, museums, galleries, cultural organizations and more. We are not only the center of visual arts in the country but in the world. When you take Expo Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the upcoming Art Design Chicago, the Year of Public Art and all the great work going on in the city, right here and now, this is the epicenter of great visual arts in the world.”
A bottle of Ruinart Champagne was popped and all gathered together for a celebratory toast before making their way onto the show floor.
As the night wore on guests at the Art Expo Chicago 2017 private showing mingled throughout the show floor until Nick Cave’s Up Right Chicago commenced on the show floor featuring a processional of dancers in soundsuits making their way through Festival Hall. The performance, a part of Here Hear Chicago and a unique collaboration between Cave and architect Jeanne Gang continued in the Aon Ballroom welcoming guests of Vernissage in addition to the general public.