Expo Chicago 2012: Art fair wars redux

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Former Merchandise Mart art fair exec Tony Karman has snagged starchitect Jeanne Gang to design Expo Chicago, "The Inaugural International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art and Design," scheduled for September 20-23 at Navy Pier. He's also got the Museum of Contemporary Art on board, bringing back Vernissage, the traditional opening night benefit event. And legendary Chicago gallerist Rhona Hoffman is on his selection committee, poised to pick "no more than 100 top tier dealers" to participate.

Karman's partners include Mark Lyman and Michael Franks of the Art Fair Company, which produces the SOFA show. They're aiming for that most elusive prize: the dazzle and draw the old Pier show once had.

Meanwhile, Art Chicago, now headed by Staci Boris and Ken Tyburski, has reinvented itself as Next Art Chicago. Set for April 27-29 at the Mart, with an emphasis on emerging artists, it's being touted as "An International Fair of Contemporary Art," and "the largest, most important visual arts event in the Midwest."

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