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Three ways to do Expo Chicago

For free, for fun, or for profit

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If you want to start collecting

With dozens of gallery booths spread across Navy Pier's 170,000-square-foot Festival Hall, Expo Chicago offers a prime opportunity to see new art. But is it also the right venue for someone who's looking to begin collecting? Adam Fields, who's been collecting for six years and has attended Expo since its inaugural, believes it is. "It showcases the majority of the local galleries and local artists," he says. Fields is a Chicago native who now lives in New York, where he's the founder and CEO of Arta, a start-up he describes as "Expedia for high-end art shipping."

Fields suggests that new collectors head for the Exposure and Special Exhibitions sections, the places where one can spot work by emerging artists because, he says, "there are always accessible price points." He recommends that novice collectors should also check out the Editions + Books area. "It can allow younger collectors to get a big, recognizable name at a more accessible price," Fields says.

Most importantly, new collectors shouldn't be too hasty. "Be patient," Fields says. "Walk around the fair, take notes, both mental and actual, of what interests you. Don't be afraid to ask considered questions. Hopefully go with your gut and buy things that mean something to you, things you appreciate, and not just for a name that you read in a magazine or heard from a friend." Tal Rosenberg

KELLY TAUB/BFA.COM
  • Kelly Taub/BFA.com

If you just want to party

For those looking to skip the formalities and go straight to the afterparty, there are plenty of chances to rub elbows with artists and art lovers with a cocktail in hand.

The fun kicks off Thursday with Unbridled: Silver Factory at Untitled (111 W. Kinzie), a free Andy Warhol-inspired celebration of adult-film performers, drag queens, socialites, musicians, and artists hosted by local burlesque icon Michelle L'amour.

On Friday, galleries across the city present their own "Art After Dark" events in conjunction with Expo. Some highlights include the opening reception of "Skillshot: The Collaborative Art of Pinball" at the Glass Curtain Gallery (1104 S. Wabash); a one-year retrospective of the work of FMK5x5 artists at Fulton Market Kitchen (311 N. Sangamon); and After Dark, a party in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing (111 S. Michigan) that includes live entertainment from the Pheels, Fee Lion, and Shaka 23, plus a specialty cocktail inspired by the exhibit "A Lot of Sorrow."

On Saturday, Party Noire and Rootwork Gallery (645 W. 18th) team up for Art/Noire, a BYOB night of dancing and Viktor le. Givens's multimedia exhibition "The In-Between Space."

For those who want to get a little sunshine with their art, the East Room (2354 N. Milwaukee) hosts the Backyard BBQ and Open-Air Pop-Up Gallery, featuring live painting, food from the Boiler Room, drinks from the bar, and exhibitions by artists Emma McKee, Sick Fisher, Keithstone Smith, and more on Saturday and Sunday from 1-8 PM. Brianna Wellen

KELLY TAUB/BFA.COM
  • Kelly Taub/BFA.com

If you want to see it for free

There are gratis concurrent exhibits and events at local galleries all weekend long. Here are six best bets:

"#30 Dia de los Muertos: Journey of the Soul" The National Museum of Mexican Art's 30th annual Day of the Dead exhibition features material by more than 35 artists from across the country. Opening reception Fri 9/23, 6-8:30 PM. 9/23-12/11, National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th, 312-738-1503, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.

"The Annual" The yearly exhibit of work by local artists, curated by Edra Soto of the Franklin, includes a chance to view and purchase pieces during a free breakfast on Fri 9/23 at 9 AM. RSVP required. Through 9/29, Chicago Artists Coalition, 217 N. Carpenter, 312-491-8888, chicagoartistscoalition.org.

"Beta" A collection of paintings by Wasalu Jaco, better known as Lupe Fiasco. 9/23-11/30, Ed Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins, 312-533-4911, edpaschkeartcenter.org.

"High Phi" New work by printmaker Jim Pollock. Opening reception Fri 9/23, 6-10 PM. 9/23-10/23, Galerie F, 2381 N. Milwaukee, 773-819-9200, galerief.com.

Pop-Up Aron Packer Projects The gallery presents a group exhibit featuring work by Krista Hoefle, Nancy Mladenoff, Lorraine Peltz, and Jennifer Yorke. Closing reception on Sun 9/25, 1-3 PM. Through 9/25, Mars Gallery, 1139 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-7808, marsgallery.com.

"Spun" A collaborative installation led by Kevin Maginnis that includes the work of Erik Beehn, Sabina Ott, Tony Tasset, and more. Opening reception Sat 9/24, 7-9 PM. 9/24-11/5, Stuart and Co. Gallery, 2250 W. Ohio, 312-487-1850, stuartandco.com. Brianna Wellen  v

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