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Art Wed Apr 20 2011
Chicago's largest art fair, Art Chicago, has taken a hit in recent years due to mismanagement and other logistical issues. For the local art community, the fair - now a massive four-day event encompassing multiple floors of the Merchandise Mart - often isolates or ignores the eclectic, diverse, and ever-changing Chicago and Midwest-based art galleries, publications, and institutions.
Three of Chicago's most celebrated art entities-- threewalls, Roots and Culture, and Public Media Institute-- present the MDW Fair, a celebration and gathering of Chicagoland area independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries, publishers, and artist groups, and something of a response to the much larger fair which takes place the following weekend. Running April 23 and 24, the fair aims to "demonstrate the diversity, strength, and vision of the people/places making it happen in the art ecology of our region."
Some of the participants for this year's festival have participated in past fairs in conjunction with Art Chicago such as NEXT, but many will be participating in such an event for the first time. New and established participants include Spudnik Press, Golden Age, The Suburban, The Post Family, PEREGRINEPROGRAM, Johalla Projects, and the Hyde Park Arts Center. A full list of participants is available on the fair's website. In addition to the numerous participants, the fair will also include a series of talks, presentations, and ongoing conversations with local curators, journalists, and gallery directors. On Saturday at 2:30pm, Tom Burtonwood, an artist and co-founder of the Oak Park-based exhibition space What It Is, will lead "On the Road," a discussion that hits at the heart of the festival by exploring artist run or dealer led art fairs and expos.
In addition to the discussions, visitors are encouraged to attend the MDW Fair Party on Saturday at 7pm, with performances from Hunter Hussar, J+J+J, and Beast. Later that evening, an after party at the Co-Prosperity Sphere gives visitors a chance to view the space's new exhibition, The New New Chicagoans, as well as hear performances from Casual Encounter, onYou, and I Kong Kult.
The MDW Fair takes place at the Geolofts (3636 South Iron Street) on April 23 from 1pm to 10pm and April 24 from 1pm to 6pm. Admission to the fair is $5.